Abington Faculty in the News: The art of expressing gratitude

Penn State Abington corporate communication

Ross Brinkert, who passed away in 2020, was an associate professor of corporate communication at Penn State Abington.

Credit: Maria Narodetsky

ABINGTON, Pa. — An article on Philly.com explores gratitude as an industry, with countless books and apps dedicated to it, and as a field of study by college faculty such as Ross Brinkert, associate professor of corporate communication at Penn State Abington

Brinkert, who researches the effectiveness of gratitude in the workplace, said gratitude is increasingly seen as a core business practice, but it takes thought.

“Expressing thanks can seem like the most obvious and easy thing in the world. On the other hand, it's an art,” he told the reporter.

Abington dedication

Abington faculty Ross Brinkert with an architectural drawing of the iconic Sutherland Building. 

Credit: Maria Narodetsky

Brinkert extends his gratitude practice into the Abington campus community. He was instrumental in permanently honoring a prominent African-American architect who earned little recognition during his lifetime but whose work dominates the campus.

Students, staff and faculty, including Brinkert, dedicated a bronze plaque late last year to recognize Julian Francis Abele, the architect of the iconic Sutherland Building, He designed the structure in 1916 for the Ogontz School for Girls, which occupied the Abington site until its donation to Penn State in 1950.

The campus Multicultural Climate Committee (MCC) and the Black Student Union spearheaded the drive to remember Abele.

Brinkert, an MCC member, said racism accounted for the lack of acknowledgement of Abele's work and the work of countless others throughout history.

"But it is a wonderful part of the Abington origin story that he designed this building for a school that was dedicated to raising women up at a time when that wasn't very common," Brinkert said at the dedication. "It's another powerful part of our heritage."

Penn State Abington, formerly the Ogontz campus, offers baccalaureate degrees in 18 majors at its suburban location just north of Philadelphia. Nearly half of its 4,000 students complete all four years at Abington, with opportunities in undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more. The new Lions Gate residence hall will open in August 2017.