In Brief

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Marketing students share creative ideas

Penn State Behrend students in Marketing 444 Buyer Behavior and Applied Research are helping the Hagen History Center with marketing plans to reach younger audiences.

Penn State Behrend students in Marketing 444 Buyer Behavior and Applied Research are helping the Hagen History Center with marketing plans to reach younger audiences.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

This spring, students in Behrend’s Marketing 444 Buyer Behavior and Applied Research courses were tasked with writing marketing plans for the Hagen History Center (HHC), to help the museum attract visitors under the age of 30 and grow that audience’s interest in history.

Students, working in small teams, conducted focus groups and researched other museums, including the Smithson­ian Institution in Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center.

By the end of the semester, students had generated ten detailed and insight­ful marketing plans for HHC.

Behrend students told HHC administra­tors that the individuals in the under-30 demographic are most interested in “ex­periences.” They want to have fun, share photos with friends, and buy keepsakes to remember the day. The students pro­vided other insights as well—for example, that young adults learn about events on social media primarily and they prefer to watch short videos rather than read long stories to gather information.

The recommendations by the students included sponsoring unique events—an “escape room” experience in the Watson- Curtze mansion, history trivia nights, a food truck festival, a virtual-reality interac­tive exhibit— providing enhancements to social media, featuring more videos on the center’s website, and planting a flower garden to enhance photos of the facilities. They even suggested some unique items to carry in the gift shop.

Museum administrators have already implemented some recommendations.

This is the second time Behrend Marketing students have worked with the HHC. In the spring of 2019, they recommended the museum use the moniker of Hagen History Center (it was previously known as the Erie County Historical Society), promote the slogan Make History with Us, and create a beer exhibit, an attraction that is, in fact, now nearing completion.

The exhibit—Brew History with Us—is planned for 2021 and will examine the history of beer production in Erie. The HHC has developed several interactive and fun events (for the over-21 set) too.

“This will emphasize engaging, fun exhibits about our rich community,” said Geri Cicchetti, advancement director for the center. “When these exhibits open, we hope the pandemic will be history and people will get out and visit our ever-grow­ing and dynamic Hagen History Center.”

Students inducted into business honor society

Thirty Black School of Business students were inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma international business honor society earlier this year. They represent students enrolled in the college’s residential programs as well as Penn State World Campus majors that are offered by the Black School.

Beta Gamma Sigma recognizes scholastic excellence among students in the world’s top business schools. Only those schools accredited by AACSB International—the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business—are eligible to host collegiate chapters. The Black School of Business is the only school in the Erie region to hold the AACSB designation.

To be considered for membership, students must rank in the top 10 percent of bachelor’s degree programs or the top 20 percent of graduate programs.

“Being inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma represents a high achievement for students,” said Dr. Greg Filbeck, director of the Black School of Business. “Membership in the society is available to students at less than 5 percent of business schools worldwide. Additionally, students must distinguish themselves among their peers in terms of academic achieve­ment. We are proud of our new inductees.”


  • Meadow Adams, Arlington, Washington
  • Janelle Agnew, Conneautville
  • William C. Arent, Boston, Virginia
  • Jason M Bentley, Waterford
  • Jane A. Brenc, Springboro
  • Anna Leigh Buck, Danville
  • Margaret E. Burns, Lakewood, New York
  • Christopher James Butler, Jamestown, New York
  • Chelsea Czerwinksi, Erie
  • Katherine D. Erb, Oak Harbor, Washington
  • Kristoffer A. Featheringham, Stone Ridge, Virginia
  • Sarah N. Garnica-Saldana, Erie
  • James Goodsel, Erie
  • Richard Grendys, Export
  • Tyler Michael Hall, Greensburg
  • Michael Harmon, Warner Robins, Georgia
  • Michaela Hodinko, Erie
  • Melody Yu Jin, Dunmore
  • Nicole Kittelberger, Pittsburgh
  • Benjamin John Kozminski, Greenville
  • William Hezekiah Kuhns, Pittsburgh
  • Leanne Lazenby, Erie
  • J. Michael Lindner, Erie
  • Kelly Alexis Mitchell, Erie
  • James Norwood, Chicago
  • Brandon Michael Riazzi, Waterford
  • Jason Turkovich, Erie
  • Lucas Vasiladiotis, Bulger
  • Dainora Visockaite, Irvine, California
  • Scott William Waite, Erie

Faculty News

New faculty

Dr. Linh Le has been hired as an assistant professor of accounting, and Dr. Seth Powless has joined the school as a lecturer in project and supply chain management.


Dr. Tim Krause has been promoted to associate professor of finance. Dr. Varun Gupta has been promoted to associate professor of operations and supply chain management.


Dr. Ozgun Caliskan Demirag, associate professor of operations and supply chain management, has been named associate director of the school.

Dr. Greg Filbeck, director of the school, has been named the Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania’s 2020 Outstanding Board Member. In addition, Penn State Behrend was chosen by Junior Achievement as the 2020 Outstanding Contributing Company.

Dr. Varun Gupta, associate professor of operations and supply chain management; Carol Putman, assistant teaching professor of management; and Dr. Yohannes Haile, assistant teaching professor of management, were awarded Open Lab Awards by the college for their work developing, supporting, and encouraging interactions between Behrend and external partners in business, industry, and the community.

Robert Patterson, lecturer in accounting, recently received the Chapter Advisor of the Year Award from Delta Sigma Pi for his work with Behrend’s Mu Pi Chapter of the national business honor society.

Dr. Matthew Swinarski, associate professor of management, and colleagues Dr. Faisal Aqlan, associate professor of industrial engineering; Dr. Qi Dunsworth, director of teaching initiatives; Dr. Chetan Nikhare, associate professor of mechanical engineering; and Dr. Mohammad Rasouli, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, have been awarded a $300,000, three-year National Science Foundation grant. The interdisciplinary team will work on improving manufacturing education by helping undergraduate students develop a system view of manufacturing.

Robbins honored with industry award

Eric Robbins, assistant teaching professor of finance and associate director of corporate outreach and research in the Black School of Business.

Eric Robbins, associate teaching professor of finance and associate director of corporate outreach and research in the Black School of Business.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Eric Robbins, assistant teach­ing professor of finance and associate director of corporate outreach and research in the Black School of Business, recently received the 2020 Mid-Atlantic Region Excellence in Teaching Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Associa­tion (UPCEA).

The award showcases faculty members who have demonstrat­ed a long-standing commitment to their institution and continu­ing education through their advocacy, teaching, program development, research, and service to students.

Robbins was honored at the UPCEA’s virtual conference in early October.

Scholarships awarded to finance students

The Black School of Business has awarded scholarships to seventeen students enrolled in the school’s residential finance program and online finance program offered through Penn State World Campus.

The scholarships are a component of the CFA Institute’s University Affili­ation Program (UAP), which promotes ethics-based investment education that incorporates the core knowledge, skills, and abilities that are expected of global investment professionals. The Black School is the only business school in northwestern Pennsylvania with UAP status conferred by the CFA Institute, which offers one of the most respected credentials in finance.

To earn a CFA Charter, graduates must pass three exams and have at least four years of relevant professional experience. Preparation for the exams can require up to 300 hours of study.

“Our financial curriculum is distinct from most other programs, as it is mapped to the CFA program, enabling students to be workforce-ready upon graduation,” said Dr. Greg Filbeck, director of the Black School. “The CFA exams are rigorous, but a CFA Charter will be a functional and financial advantage at every stage of our graduates’ careers.”

The UAP scholarships reduce the cost of the CFA Level I exam by approximately $1,000 and also lower the cost of study materials, saving students an additional $700.

This year’s recipients of the University Affiliation Program Scholarships are:

  • Mark Barnes, Glensdale
  • Justin Berdik, Pittsburgh
  • Nicholas Berquist, Corona, California
  • Justin Boyd, New Cumberland,
  • West Virginia
  • Connor Bryant, Overland Park, Kansas
  • Christopher Butler, Jamestown, New York
  • Laurel-Ashley Christian, Silver Spring, Maryland
  • Patrick Everett, Pickney, Michigan
  • Arshdeep Hanjra, Stewartsville, New Jersey
  • Josh Kirkpatrick, Pittsburgh
  • Steven Lindquist, Reno, Nevada
  • Cuyler McCoy, Whitsett, North Carolina
  • Elise McNeil, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Fouad Moabi, Erie
  • Simon Nero, Hookstown
  • Rita Pellens, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Eric Tieman, Irving, Texas

Networking in 2020

Networking, a vital aspect of doing business, is a challenge during a pandemic when we’re all keeping our distance from one another. No shaking hands. No meeting for coffee. No business lunches.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Students, faculty members, advisory board members, and alumni recently met up virtually by Zoom for a network­ing event hosted by Behrend’s American Marketing Association student club, with some help from career counselors in the college’s Academic and Career Planning Center (ACPC).

Students posed questions to the professionals on the call in a panel-style interview. One question that generated interesting responses was: “What classes would you take if you were back in college now?” Some panelists said they would take more math and statistics courses, because it would be helpful in their current careers. Others said they would take more psychology courses to help understand consumer behavior.

At the end of the meeting, students had the chance to practice on the professionals their “elevator speeches,” which they had refined with the help of the ACPC counselors.

Professionals who participated included: Justin Wheeler ’13, senior quantitative analytics and model devel­opment analyst for PNC; Jeff Stempka ’07, ’09 M.B.A., senior associate brand manager with Campbell Soup company; Marisa Smith ’99, vice president of finance and technology for Whirley-DrinkWorks; and Stephanie Maslow-Blackman, founder and creative director of Metalicious Jewelry.

Management faculty member chosen as first recipient of professorship

Dr. Joongseo Kim, assistant professor of management in the Black School of Business.

Dr. Joongseo Kim, assistant professor of management in the Black School of Business.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Dr. Joongseo Kim, assistant professor of management in the Black School of Busi­ness, is the first Behrend faculty member to receive a new early career professor­ship established by Ed Auslander, retired president and chief executive officer of LORD Corporation.

The endowment for the Dr. Chester “Chet” L. Wolford Early Career Profes­sorship was made possible through a gift from Auslander and his wife, Elaine, to honor the late Wolford, a former professor of English at Behrend. 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.

Auslander said that 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.

“I have thought of Dr. Wolford often over my thirty-five-year 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 advice and guidance I received from him.”

Kim teaches graduate courses in leadership and project management. His research, which focuses on business culture and behavioral ethics, has been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology and the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, among others.

“It is a tremendous honor to be selected as the first recipient of the Dr. Chester ‘Chet’ L. Wolford Early Career Professor­ship,” Kim said. “The benevolence and trust connected with this endowed professorship will be well placed as I continue to advance my teaching and research in the field of management and business ethics.”

The focus on graduate courses is appropriate, said Gretchen Wolford, who was married to Chet Wolford for forty-one years. She also taught writing at Behrend.

“Teaching M.B.A. students was the highlight of Chet’s teach­ing career,” she said. “He loved the challenges that his students brought to the classroom, especially the working professionals who earned their M.B.A. while working full-time jobs. He had a special respect for them, and he would be gratified to have inspired such an accomplished and generous student.”

Webinar series launched

Development and Alumni Relations is hosting informative webinars featuring Behrend faculty and staff and others.

The latest webinar, Financial Health: Wrapping Up and Looking Ahead, featured Black School of Business Director Greg Filbeck and other professionals from the college and Penn State’s development office offering tips for financially concluding the year and exploring investment strategies beyond 2020.

See the recorded presentation at, where you can also find a list of upcoming webinars. Register in advance to get links to attend future presentations.