A faculty member in Penn State’s online program in organization development will receive a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the organization development field. 

William J. Rothwell serves as a faculty leader of the Master of Professional Studies in Organization Development and Change program offered online through Penn State World Campus. The Organization Development (OD) Network Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the field of organization development. Rothwell will receive the award on June 10 at the Organization Development (OD) Network Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Rothwell, who is a professor of workforce education and development in the Penn State College of Education, thanked his colleagues from across the field for nominating and voting for him to receive the award.

A headshot of William Rothwell.
William J. Rothwell will receive a lifetime achievement award on June 10.
Penn State

“I feel blessed, honored, and humbled to receive this award,” Rothwell said.

He compared this award to a baseball player entering the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rothwell said it is exciting to be voted into a gallery of his own heroes for his work and achievements.

Organization development is a change process led by facilitators who support organization change, develop workplace group dynamics, and implement continuous improvements for the benefit of not only the organization as a whole, but also the individual stakeholders. A key aspect of OD is encouraging change to come from the stakeholders within the organization.

“OD thinkers have had a profound and long-term positive impact on the world,” Rothwell said.

He said this recognition broadens a network of connections for his students.

“It reveals to them a community of scholars, practitioners, and consultants who exist in the OD field,” Rothwell said. “This award promotes membership in that association for my students, which can provide resources that will help them advance in their learning and thinking about how to manage change and how to involve people in organizations in the decisions that affect them.”

Rothwell’s passion for helping others drives his work in the organization development field.

“Many activities inflame my passion. One is teaching students, helping them learn. Many of my students are employed adults, and it gives me a wonderful feeling to help them grow professionally and advance in their careers,” he said. “Every worker has talent and valuable insights, and it is the goal of OD practitioners to facilitate ways to unleash that talent and help organizations become great but also productive, innovative, and engaging places to work.”

Rothwell will continue his work after receiving this award, including penning books about OD as well as how to apply OD to diversity, equity, and inclusion inside organizations, while also bringing about social change outside organizations. 

The Master of Professional Studies in Organization Development and Change is a 30-credit online program that teaches students how to implement quality and continuous improvement initiatives within an organization. Students can develop skills and confidence through their practical experiences during this program.

Learn more about the Master of Professional Studies in Organization Development and Change offered online through Penn State World Campus.

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