In Brief

Dr. Ashutosh Deshmukh

Dr. Ashutosh Deshmukh

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Decades of Service Add Up for Accounting Professor

Dr. Ashutosh Deshmukh didn’t plan to be a college professor, but his path has led him to the highest academic rank possible at Penn State: He has been named distinguished professor of accounting and management information systems.

The designation of distinguished professor recognizes outstanding academic contributions to the University and service to students. Deshmukh joins Penn State Behrend faculty members Dr. Michael Campbell, distinguished pro­fessor of biology, and George Looney, distinguished professor of English and creative writing, in holding the title.

Deshmukh, who grew up in what was then known as Bombay, India, was just 19 years old when he earned his bache­lor’s degree in accounting. He worked as an accountant in India before coming to the United States to earn an MBA at the University of Alabama, which is where he got his first taste of teaching as part of an assistantship.

After getting his MBA, he obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Memphis and joined the faculty at Behrend in 1993.

“I enjoy teaching because it is a multi-faceted activity,” he said. “It demands that you be on top of your subject matter, be able to communicate complex issues easily, be able to motivate and energize students, stoke the curiosity of your audience, and give students survival skills to make it in the messy real world. The challenge of doing well in as many dimensions as I can is what I relish most about teaching.”

Creative Writing Faculty Publish New Works

The faculty members in Penn State Behrend’s bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.) in creative writing are collaborating both in the program and on the page: All three have new books in print, and each lists the others on the acknowledg­ments pages of their books.

“One of the great things about our B.F.A. program is the real sense of community among the students and the three of us,” said Dr. Tom Noyes, professor of creative writing and English and the chair of the creative writing program. “We are good friends as well as colleagues, and we share our work a lot.”

There has been a lot to share, lately. Noyes just released his fourth book—his first novel—The Substance of Things Hoped For. Aimee Pogson, associate teaching pro­fessor of creative writing and English, published The Sadness of Spirits, a collection of short stories. George Looney, distinguished professor of creative writing and English, published two new titles—The Itinerate Circus: New and Selected Poems 1995-2020 and The Worst May Be Over, a collection of short stories.

Behrend’s B.F.A. in creative writing is the only program of its kind at Penn State.

A Truck-Lite recruiter talks with students at a Penn State Behrend career fair.

A Truck-Lite recruiter talks with students at a Penn State Behrend career fair. (Photo taken pre-pandemic.)

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Are you living the dream (job)?

Have you landed your dream job? Found yourself doing something you never expected? Surprised by the things you’re discovering about yourself in your daily work? If you’re in a field or have a position you find exciting, challenging, or personally fulfilling, we want to hear from you. Whatever you do, if you go to work every day (or most days) with a smile, we encourage you to share your story with us. Email Heather Cass, Behrend Magazine editor, at [email protected]. Photos encouraged!

Truck-Lite moving corporate headquarters to Knowledge Park

Truck-Lite Co., LLC, a worldwide leader in LED lighting systems for commercial vehicles, is relocating its headquarters to the college’s Knowledge Park, where the company will have better access to engineering and technology talent as it prepares for the transportation industry’s shift to electric vehicles in the future.

“As the transportation industry shifts toward electric vehicles, developing new innovations for customers relies on our ability to attract, develop and retain qualified talent,” said Brian Kupchella, CEO of Clarience Technologies, the parent company of Truck-Lite. “Relo­cating our headquarters to Knowledge Park and expanding our association with Behrend creates a strong pipeline of future electrical engineers, data scientists, and business leaders.”

Approximately ninety employees, including engineering, planning, product testing, finance, marketing, and customer service staff, will work at the new location, which is targeted to open later this year.

The company believes the future research and development capabilities needed to design components in next-generation electric vehicles will require its workforce to have deeper expertise in electrical engineering, software programming, and advanced analytics. At Knowledge Park, the company will have more access to a specialized talent pool.

The move also increases opportunities for Truck-Lite to engage in Behrend’s Open Lab environment, which provides access to student and new graduate talent, faculty expertise, and facilities. Truck-Lite will build two research labs in the Advanced Manufacturing and Inno­vation Center: a 1,745-square-foot prod­uct-modeling lab and a 4,075-square-foot photometric testing facility, which will be used to study the light emitted by LEDs, lamps, and other devices.

The move expands a long history of collaboration between Truck-Lite and Penn State Behrend: The company has sponsored student research and later opened an innovation center at Knowledge Park. In March, Clarience Technologies announced an Early Career Professorship at Behrend. The company will work with a faculty member to guide four senior design projects in the field of data analytics.

“We look forward to this new phase in our longstanding partnership with Truck-Lite and Clarience Technologies,” said Ralph Ford, chancellor of Penn State Behrend.

Architectural rendering of the Federal House CORE project.

Architectural rendering of the Federal House CORE project.

Credit: Penn State Behrend


The Federal House at Penn State Behrend is believed to be the oldest brick structure in Harborcreek Township. It was built in 1838.

Construction updates

Construction is well underway on a $6.3-million renovation and expansion of Penn State Behrend’s Federal House to provide a new home for the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research, and Evaluation (CORE). The project is on track to be completed late this year for staff to move into the new space in early 2022.

Across campus, preparations are underway for construction of a 60,000-square-foot fitness and recreation center that will replace Erie Hall. The $28.2 million center, which will be triple the size of the current building, will address longstanding interest by students for individual and group recreation space. It will feature a gymnasium, fitness facilities, and locker rooms as well as team rooms, athletic training areas, and practice space for several of the college’s NCAA Division III athletic programs. Work on the proj­ect is expected to begin late this summer, with anticipated completion in Spring 2023.

Parents, Families & Alumni Weekend Is October 1-3

Giving Update

The success of every Behrend student relies on the support of many, including generous alumni and friends whose gifts enrich the learning, research, and service experiences of our students. Since the start of the Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence fundraising effort in 2016, gifts to Penn State Behrend have combined to make an impressive impact.*

$60 million
In campaign gifts and commitments

Behrend scholarships awarded in 2020-21

Nearly $2.7 million
In total Behrend scholarships to students in 2020-21

New scholarships valued at $12 million

Nearly $993,000
In new scholarship monies

More than 13,800
gifts from 3,000+ distinct donors

*As of June 30, 2021

“Parents, Families & Alumni Weekend has long been a staple of the college’s fall programming, but this year, I think it will have special meaning,” said Ralph Ford, Behrend Chancellor. “Fall is such a beautiful time here on campus, and we could not be more excited to welcome everyone back.”

Parents, families & alumni weekend attendees won’t be bored.

If ever there was a year to come together and celebrate the simple joy of connecting with one another, it would be this year. And Behrend offers the perfect opportunity for you to do that. Parents, Families & Alumni Weekend will be held October 1-3, with most events being offered in person.

There will also be some virtual options for those who cannot be with us in person.

Among the activities planned:

  • Free family picnic lunch
  • Berkey Creamery ice cream social with Chancellor Ford
  • Glenhill Farmhouse tours
  • Midnight bingo (at an earlier time!)
  • Penn State football watch party
  • Behrend Black Alumni Reunion reception
  • School-specific alumni reunion gatherings

See a full schedule of activities at

New group to engage black alumni, students

Penn State Behrend’s Alumni Society recently opened a new chapter in the college’s Black history—an affiliate programming group (APG) known as the Behrend Black Leadership Alumni Coalition (BBLAC).

The initiative began as a conversation among college administration, faculty, staff, and alumni to explore opportunities to celebrate diverse voices and view­points. After months of collaboration, BBLAC was chartered to serve as a direct connection for Black alumni to share their unique perspectives and engage with current and potential Black students. Spearheaded by a group of Black Behrend alumni, the group is the first APG the Behrend Alumni Society has had in at least a dozen years.

BBLAC has hit the ground running with a robust membership and a board of directors who have already formed several committees around the areas of campus engagement, professional development, coalition events, collegiate recruitment, fundraising, and more.

A donation from alumna Tesha Nesbit, a 1993 Communication graduate and director of diversity, equity, and inclusion and corporate social responsibility at North American Partners in Anesthesia, will help advance BBLAC’s mission.

Mission of BBLAC

The mission of the Behrend Black Leadership Alumni Coalition (BBLAC) Affiliate Programming Group is to provide a direct connection for the college’s Black alumni to share their unique perspectives as alumni. BBLAC is positioned to: engage with current Black students to support educational opportunities; mentor current Black students as they make the transition to higher education; provide a conduit for Black alumni to advise Behrend leadership; assist in recruiting Black students; help develop greater financial support for Black students; facilitate allyship; and help improve the overall educational environment for students of color.

Leadership/Board of Directors

Executive Board
President: Brandon McGraw ‘09
Vice President: Adell Coleman ‘09
Treasurer: Jeremy O’Mard ‘13
Secretary: Angela Coston Jones ‘95
Emerita: Conchita Dixon ‘97

Committee Chairs
Conchita Dixon ‘97, Fundraising
Tesha Nesbit ‘93, Professional Development
Shelley Askew Floyd ‘92, Campus Engagement
Jeffrey Grant ‘90, Membership
Stanley Husband ‘90, Collegiate Recruitment
K. Sasha Singh ‘09, Coalition Events

To join the alumni group, visit To support BBLAC with a donation, visit

New Science and Business Major

The college’s School of Science and Black School of Business have teamed up to create a new major—a bachelor of science in Interdisciplinary Science and Business (ISB)—that will prepare students for unique career opportunities. It’s the latest example of Penn State Behrend’s strategic focus on creating programs that span disciplines.

Students pursuing the ISB degree will have a choice of three business modules—accounting and finance; technical sales; or operations and supply chain management—and three science modules—quantitative science, including courses in statistics, mathematics, visualization, and databases; laboratory science, covering biology and chemistry; or human health, emphasizing studies of the health-care industry.

Completion of the ISB degree will prepare students to work on the business side of science-based companies and organizations.

Behrend Theatre P-E-R-S-E-V-E-R-E-S

How do you put on a musical during a pandemic when you can’t have a show indoors and audience (and cast) members can’t be within six feet of one another? You put up tents in the Wilson Parking Lot on campus and hope for decent weather. In April. In Erie.

It probably goes without saying that Emily Cassano, assistant teaching professor of music, theatre, and visual arts, was more stressed than usual trying to pick and pull off a spring musical.

Cassano needed a show with a small cast that would have limited physical interaction with one another. She chose “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” by Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn. The musical is a celebration of twitchy middle-school awkwardness: One contestant, beset with allergies, traces the letters with his foot as he spells each word. Another speaks six languages and can say “hello” in seven more but can’t manage even a basic conversation with a boy.

The show, which is typically set in a middle-school gymnasium, required minimal staging. Cassano made one adjustment to maintain physical distanc­ing: Rather than sit the “contestants” on bleachers, where they would wait their turn to spell, she positioned them in chairs, spaced nine feet apart. The audience members sat seated socially distanced in a second tent.

The show was a hit with all but one performance sold out, from the first one when it snowed to the last one, three days later, when it was 60 degrees. That’s just April in E-R-I-E.