It would be impossible to overstate the influence and impact that Dr. Bob Light, former senior associate dean for research and outreach and chief operating officer of the college, had on Penn State Behrend.
Light, who died in February at age 64, arrived at Behrend in 1984 as a biology faculty member. Almost immediately, he took on additional responsibilities, including development of a program that funds undergraduate student research. The Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research and Creative Accomplishment Conference, which Light launched, has become the region’s premier showcase for undergraduate research.
His work on behalf of Pennsylvania Sea Grant positioned the college as a leader in environmental and ecological studies. Light’s efforts made Penn State eligible for Sea Grant College status—the highest designation given by NOAA. His leadership of Sea Grant changed how we view Erie: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to delist Presque Isle Bay as an environmental Area of Concern was based largely on research by Sea Grant staff.
Light also led the development of Knowledge Park, the cornerstone of the college’s open-laboratory philosophy. Today, the park plays a pivotal role in supporting academic and industry collaborations that advance student learning while fostering innovation in our region.
He also oversaw functions ranging from enrollment management and the college budget to community and workforce programs and campus sustainability projects.
To honor Light and recognize his contributions to the college, including his strong support of Behrend Athletics, colleagues and friends have established a program endowment in his name.
Gifts to the Robert W. Light Endowment for Penn State Behrend Athletics may be made online at giveto.psu.edu/LightAthleticsEndowment or by contacting the Office of Development at 814-898-6159.