In Brief

Lawmakers drop in on Political Science Zoom meeting

U.S. Representative Guy Reschenthaler ’04 and U.S. Senator Bob Casey

U.S. Representative Guy Reschenthaler ’04 and U.S. Senator Bob Casey

Credit: Contributed Photos

Students in the Political Science program typically end the academic year at a celebratory dinner with their faculty members. This year, with restaurants closed due to COVID-19, the program’s chair, Dr. Robert Speel, came up with something different: A group Zoom call with surprise appearances by U.S. Senator Bob Casey and U.S. Representative Guy Reschenthaler.

“It was a way to still have the dinner, and to make it one they’ll remember,” said Speel, an associate professor of political science.

Casey talked with the group for about 15 minutes. Reschenthaler, who graduated from Behrend with a Political Science degree in 2004, spent nearly an hour on the call.

“It wasn’t quite, ‘Please hold for the president,’” said John Jarecki, now a Political Science graduate who is continuing his studies at the University of Dayton School of Law, “but it was still pretty surreal.”

New programs offered

The bachelor’s degree in Polymer Engineering and Science will give students an understanding of the structure, properties, and processing of polymers, which are among the most versatile materials in use today. Graduates of the program will have the knowledge and skills to design polymer systems meeting unique applications in a wide range of industries.

The Biomedical Engineering minor combines studies in biology and engineering, providing students with the foundational knowledge to apply engineering principles to medicine, health care, and related fields. In the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology minor, students use the principles of chemistry to understand biological molecules, structures, and reactions and also examine how such molecules interact to form cells, organisms, and behaviors. For students enrolled in these minors, the college is pursuing research, internship, and co-op opportunities with Magee- Womens Research Institute and other medical enterprises in the Erie and Pittsburgh areas.

The Data Visualization minor is designed to provide students with the skills to translate big data into visual stories that provide insights for decision-makers in government, insurance, banking, health care, research, and more. The minor includes coursework in digital arts and

In Memoriam: Eva Tucker Jr.

Eva Tucker Jr., a longtime faculty member at Behrend and a leader in the Erie community.

Eva Tucker Jr., a longtime faculty member at Behrend and a leader in the Erie community.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Eva Tucker Jr., a longtime faculty member at Behrend and a leader in the Erie community, died April 30 at the age of 84.

Tucker taught geoscience at Behrend, where he also supervised undergraduate research projects and contributed regularly to scholarly publications. He retired in 2001 after nearly forty years with the college.

“Eva had the rare ability to be low-key and approachable, while also being a force for change,” said Penn State Behrend Chancellor Ralph Ford, who served as a faculty member alongside Tucker in the 1990s. “His strength as a leader came from his ability to connect with people, not just on campus but in the broader community.”

Tucker was a well-known leader in the Erie area, serving on several boards. He was also active in community centers and with the Erie chapter of the NAACP.

He was perhaps best known in the community as a member of the school board of the Erie City School District for more than three decades. That position epitomized Tucker’s lifelong commitment to education, whether in Erie elementary schools or the halls of higher learning at Behrend.

College launches podcast, webinar series

Behrend Talks

Behrend Talks is a podcast featuring a variety of guests talking about topics key to the growth and success of the Erie region and beyond. The talks are hosted by Chancellor Ralph Ford and cover everything from resiliency and mental health in the COVID-19 era to politics with former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. Find past episodes at behrendtalks.buzzsprout. com or subscribe to Behrend Talks on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or Google Podcasts.

Rise & Shine Webinar Series

Development and Alumni Relations is hosting informative webinars featuring Behrend faculty and staff and others presenting on topics both timely and timeless.

The first event in the Rise & Shine series took a look at improvements to Wintergreen Gorge with Dr. Sherri “Sam” Mason, sustainability coordinator. See it at, where you’ll also find a list of upcoming Rise & Shine webinars. A new webinar will be posted each month. Register in advance to get a link to attend.

Auslander gift establishes early career professorship at Behrend

Ed Auslander ’85, ’91 M.B.A.

Ed Auslander ’85, ’91 M.B.A.

Credit: Contributed Photo

A new endowed early career professorship will honor Dr. Chester “Chet” L. Wolford, a former professor of English at Penn State Behrend. The endowment was made possible by a gift from a former student—Ed Auslander, the retired president and chief executive officer of LORD Corporation, a leading provider of adhesives, coatings, and control systems for the automobile, aerospace, and defense industries.

Auslander, a 1985 graduate of the Penn State College of Engineering, earned a master of business administration (M.B.A.) degree at Behrend in 1991. Throughout his career, which included oversight of business operations in twenty-six countries, with annual revenue in excess of $1 billion, he relied on skills he learned in a business writing course taught by Wolford.

“My first course at Behrend was taught by Dr. Wolford,” Auslander said. “I vividly remember my first paper in his class. I thought it was outstanding, but I received a C. Dr. Wolford provided some guidance that has stayed with me: He said, ‘Write about what interests me.’ In other words, think of the customer first.” Wolford was a member of the Behrend faculty for thirty-two years, teaching writing and English in both the School of Business and School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“I have thought of Dr. Wolford often over my career,” Auslander said. “His advice—be efficient, effective, and concise with your words—was so profound that I still think about it every time I write. I will always be thankful for the guidance I received from him.”

To honor Wolford, who died in 2009, Auslander and his wife, Elaine, made a gift of $400,000, which will support the teaching and research of a Behrend faculty member in the first decade of their career. The University will match $100,000 of that gift, which will create the Dr. Chester “Chet” L. Wolford Early Career Professorship. The first recipient of the professorship is Dr. Joongseo Kim, an assistant professor of management in the Black School of Business.

Alumnus provides crucial support to student hardship fund

Behrend alumnus Justin R. Bloyd ’05 and his company, RB Sigma LLC, made a commitment to the college to help students who are struggling with challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through his company, a consulting firm that specializes in project management, innovation, and business development, Bloyd, who graduated with a degree in history, made a gift of $25,000 to the hardship fund. He has given an additional $10,000 to the Black School of Business, where he has served as an Executive in Residence.

The Student Hardship Fund provides assistance to students who are experiencing unexpected and extraordinary circumstances that affect their ability to cover costs associated with their education.

Get Food Fast

This fall, Penn State launched Penn State Eats, a smartphone app that allows users to order food and drinks from their mobile devices, offering a convenient, cashless, and contactless food service experience. Orders are picked up at designated locations, so there is no waiting in line. Even better? There are no transaction fees. Download the Penn State Go app at