Every year, the School of Labor and Employment Relations honors exemplary students, faculty, and alumni with awards for academic achievement and performance, student engagement, excellence in teaching, and career success.

Undergraduate Awards

A Student Marshal is selected each year from the graduating seniors in both of the school’s majors—Labor and Human Resources (LHR) and Organizational Leadership (OLEAD). Being chosen as a student marshal is the school’s highest academic honor. The recipients represent the school and the college at spring commencement. Student marshals are chosen based on outstanding academic achievement and their contributions to student life in the school, college, and University.

The Outstanding Senior Award recognizes a senior LHR major who has compiled an outstanding record in both academics and engagement in student activities.

The Frieda Rozen Award is named for a former School of LER professor and recognizes a graduating senior who, as an adult or member of the Armed Forces, has excelled academically.

The Strand-Lumpkins Writing Award is given for the best undergraduate paper written for an LHR class. The award honors John Strand, an alumnus of the school, and Professor Charlie Lumpkins, who helped students become better writers through his writing-intensive labor history course for many years.

The Robert R. Kohler Memorial Award goes to an LHR major from the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania who has exhibited exemplary academic achievement.

The Dilip and Bharati Shah Award was established by the generosity of alumnus Nik Shah in honor of his parents. This award recognizes the outstanding achievement of the junior major in LHR who has achieved the highest cumulative GPA.

Graduate Awards

The Joseph and Karin Costello Graduate Award is presented to an HRER graduate student in his or her first year who has demonstrated excellence in their area of study.

The Chartwell Investment Partners Scholarship Award is given to full-time graduate students enrolled or planning to enroll in Human Resources and Employment Relations who have achieved superior academic records or who manifest promise of outstanding academic success.

The Helmut Golatz Graduate Assistantship is awarded to a student in the M.S. in HRER program who has compiled an outstanding undergraduate record. It honors Helmut Golatz, the head of the Department of Labor Studies (the former name of the school), from 1964 to 1982. It is funded by contributions from school alumni in honor of his leadership contributions.

The Arlene Smith Graduate Assistantship is awarded to a student in the M.S. in HRER program who has compiled an outstanding undergraduate record. It honors Arlene Smith, a former academic advisor for the Department of Labor Studies who worked with our students for three decades, from the 1970s to the 1990s. It is funded by contributions from school alumni grateful for Arlene’s academic advice and nurturing nature.

Online Students Awards

The School of LER’s World Campus Program’s Writing Contest is open to students in all three of the school’s online programs: Organizational Leadership (OLEAD), Labor and Human Resources (LHR), and Human Resources and Employment Relations (HRER).

Students with a GPA in the top 25 percent of their academic program who have completed at least 12 graduate credits or 24 undergraduate credits at Penn State are invited to participate in the contest. Eligible students who choose to participate submit a research paper related to a case study relevant to their program. Winners are chosen by a committee of the School’s online faculty.

Faculty Award

The Paul V. Whitehead Teaching Award was created to recognize a full-time School of LER faculty member for excellence in teaching. The award is presented annually to a faculty member whose efforts in the classroom have provided students with an exceptional learning experience. The awardee is chosen by the Schreyer Institute for Excellence in Teaching. The award honors Paul Whitehead, a former Professor of Practice in the school, whose dedication to teaching, advising, and mentoring students touched many lives and set a high standard for future faculty to emulate.

Alumni Award

Each year, the school’s Alumni Board of Directors chooses an alumnus to present the Annual LER Outstanding Alumni Lecture on campus. This honor is bestowed on a school alumnus who has gone on to an exceptional career related to the fields of labor, employment relations, and human resource management. The awardee is invited to present a lecture on the University Park campus which draws on their career and life experience to provide advice and guidance to current studies preparing to embark on careers of their own.

Labor Leader Award

Each year the School of LER, in conjunction with the United Steelworkers of America, invites a distinguished representative of the labor movement to present the Annual Philip Murray Memorial Labor Lecture at Penn State University Park. The lecture honors the memory of Philip Murray (1886–1952), first president of the United Steelworkers of America and second president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Lynn Williams, president of the United Steelworkers of America, presented the first lecture in November 1986.

The purpose of the annual lecture is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas between the University community—students, faculty, and staff—and the leadership in the labor movement. The goal is to contribute to a better understanding of the important role the labor movement has played, and continues to play, in a democratic society.