NEW YORK — Retired Sears chairman and chief executive officer Arthur C. Martinez will present the inaugural address in the new “Melvin Jacobs Retail Leadership Lecture Series,” at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business April 24.
The lecture series is a tribute to the late Melvin Jacobs, a 1947 graduate of Penn State and a former chairman and ceo of Saks Fifth Avenue.
“This is a tribute to Mel’s life and his valuable contributions to the business and retail industries,” said Roz Jacobs, his widow, who along with her daughter Peggy Learner, established the lecture series, which will feature leaders of retailing. “Mel was a visionary in his time. He had a creative but realistic approach to business and could always marry the future to the present.”
The lectures will take place twice a year, in the fall and spring semesters. In addition, Jacobs said she established two fellowships for outstanding undergraduate or graduate students pursuing retail careers.
Advisory board members of the lecture series include Martinez, Burt Tansky, ceo of The Neiman Marcus Group; Allen Questrom, J.C. Penney Co. chairman and ceo; Rose Marie Bravo, ceo of Burberry, and former Saks senior executive Helen O’Hagan.
Jacobs retired from Saks in June 1993. He started a retailing and investment company called Retail Options Inc., joined the board of QVC and died in September 1993. He started his career in the downstairs store at Bloomingdale’s, eventually moving up to executive vice president and general merchandise manager. In 1972, he was named president of Burdines, later becoming chairman of the Federated Department Stores division then a Federated vice chairman, and in 1982, chairman and ceo of Saks.
Before working at Sears, Martinez was vice chairman of Saks and reported to Jacobs.
“The leadership series provides a unique opportunity for our students to reflect on opportunities and careers in retail and the transformation of the financial and technological fundamentals of the retail sector,” noted Judy Olian, dean of the Smeal College of Business.
The lecture by Martinez will be in the Assembly Room of the Nittany Lion Inn. It is free and open to the public.