Brandywine Advisory Board grants emeritus status to three longtime board members

Three men hold boxes containing their gifts.

Douglas Smith, Michael Bradley and Jerry Parsons, longtime members of the Penn State Brandywine Advisory Board, were granted emeritus status at the board’s Nov. 15 meeting.

Credit: Bill Tyson

MEDIA, Pa. — The Penn State Brandywine Advisory Board has granted emeritus status to three long-serving board members who have contributed significantly to the campus’ growth and success in recent years. The three outgoing members were honored at the Advisory Board’s quarterly meeting on Nov. 15.

Emeritus status was granted to Michael Bradley, president and CEO of M.J. Bradley Company, who joined the board in 1990; Jerry Parsons, chairman and former CEO of CTDI, who joined the board in 2010; and Douglas Smith, vice president for state government affairs at Verizon, who also joined the board in 2010. Bradley and Parsons are former board presidents; all three have served as committee chairs.

An emeritus member is an honorary title that recognizes an Advisory Board member who has provided long-term and outstanding service to Penn State Brandywine and its associated community. Former Advisory Board members are eligible for emeritus status if they have served a minimum of three, three-year terms on the Advisory Board and have met or exceeded all meeting attendance requirements, annual giving goals, and have proven to be exemplary volunteers of time and talents to Penn State Brandywine.

Current Advisory Board President Jonathan Savage, vice president of Pennoni, commended them for their service and their commitment to the campus and its students.

These three board members have been longstanding contributors and instrumental to the growth of the campus and the student population here at Penn State Brandywine.

—Jonathan Savage , Penn State Brandywine Advisory Board President

“These three board members have been longstanding contributors and instrumental to the growth of the campus and the student population here at Penn State Brandywine,” Savage said. “From development of the campus residence hall to future opportunities to expand and grow, they've been foundational and certainly instrumental to the long-term growth of this campus.”

“They are all great people and we're very fortunate that we had them on this board for as long as we did,” he added. “They've been major contributors in many, many ways.”

Brandywine Chancellor Marilyn J. Wells thanked the board members for all they have done to support the campus — from fundraising to student career guidance to food pantry donations — and for their role as advisers, advocates and ambassadors for the campus in the local community.

“We’re so fortunate to have an engaged and dedicated Advisory Board at Brandywine,” Wells said. “Doug, Jerry and Mike have shined in their leadership roles on the board. They were strong advocates for Brandywine becoming a residential campus, and they’ve encouraged the campus’ expansion of academic programs, especially around STEM and STEM careers. Most importantly, they each have a sincere desire to support and encourage our students and give them every opportunity to prepare for success as Penn State graduates.”

Doug, Jerry and Mike have shined in their leadership roles on the board…they each have a sincere desire to support and encourage our students and give them every opportunity to prepare for success as Penn State graduates.

—Marilyn J. Wells , Penn State Brandywine Chancellor

Wells also noted that each has been instrumental in recruiting the next generation of campus advisory board members.

Each of the board members said they were motivated to serve on the advisory board as a way to give back to Penn State in return for the impact a Penn State education has had on them and/or their family members.

Parsons credits his Penn State education for the skills needed to etablish CTDI with his father and grow it into a global engineering, repair and logistics company serving the communications industry.

“What the board really meant to me was it was an opportunity for me to give back to Penn State,” said Parsons, who began his Penn State education at Brandywine and completed his degree at Harrisburg. “I really believe my electrical engineering degree that I received from Penn State was a huge part of who I am today. I would not be able to do the business things I'm doing today if I didn't have my engineering degree, so I'm very thankful to Penn State. Being involved with Penn State Brandywine allowed me to give back where I could many years after my graduation.”

Serving on the board was a “great honor,” said Bradley, who attended Brandywine and University Park and is one of at least two dozen family members to have graduated from or currently attend Penn State.

“Family is a big part of this campus,” he said.

Smith, while not a Penn State graduate, has six family members who are, including his children. That was his motivation for becoming involved.

“To see what Penn State did for them and the trajectory their careers and lives have taken because of the Penn State education, I thought, ‘What can I do?’ It was just a natural fit for me to come onto the Advisory Board to give back to the institution that really helped these six people live a full life,” Smith said.

All three said supporting Brandywine’s transition to a residential campus with the opening of Orchard Hall in 2017 was a key priority and perhaps the highlight of their time on the board.

“When I first got involved, I found out that we really needed to bring a residence hall,” Parsons said. “And there was a lot of talk about it. So we set out on a path to make sure it happened, and it took a number of years. But four or five years later, we were able to, in fact, open the residence hall. I think that then allowed Penn State Brandywine to start offering so many more things for a better student experience, and you see it today.”

“I think that was a big thing,” Bradley agreed, “and it was a long time coming. That was the number one thing that was really important to me as a board member — to reach that goal because it’s been a long time coming.”

Smith said another highlight of his board service was supporting the campus’ career development services for students.

“Personally, one of the things that I found really rewarding was working with Christine Allen in the Career Services Office and meeting with seniors and doing mock interviews for jobs,” Smith said. “I had an HR background at one point, so I was able to coach and help them with their resume development. I was on panels and talked about things to expect during opportunities for networking, business environments. To think that I might have made a difference to help them find permanent employment, full-time employment, it was very rewarding for me.”

Parsons added that, in addition to his personal relationship with Penn State Brandywine, he’s proud of the connection between the campus and CTDI.

“Having the opportunity to bring CTDI to the campus — not only the Parsons family but our company — is important,” he said. “For the campus, having that relationship with a technical company like CTDI just opens up so many other opportunities, especially as we're expanding into engineering programs, supply chain management programs, things like that where the corporate engagement supports Penn State Brandywine’s efforts.”