In Brief

ERIE Conference—the marquee gathering of the Economic Research Institute of Erie, an applied research unit of Penn State Behrend’s Black School of Business

ERIE Conference—the marquee gathering of the Economic Research Institute of Erie, an applied research unit of Penn State Behrend’s Black School of Business

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Conference Explores Economic Potential of Project Resolve 

This year's ERIE Conference—the marquee gathering of the Economic Research Institute of Erie, an applied research unit of Penn State Behrend's Black School of Business—explored the economic potential of Project RESOLVE, a regional strategy for shifting the plastics, metal-casting, and transportation industries to a circular economic model.

Though led by Behrend, the multi-year initiative will require a coordinated approach, with input from other universities and government and private-sector partners, said Dr. Kenneth Louie, director of the Economic Research Institute of Erie and an associate professor of economics at Behrend.

"This is, in fact, a community-wide effort," Louie said. "It has to be, if we are going to improve the quality of life for everyone in the community."

Project RESOLVE is designed to make manufacturing companies in the Erie region more competitive. Those companies employ approximately 17 percent of all workers in the region.

The initiative also aims to reduce the plastic and waste pollution that affects local freshwater systems, including Lake Erie. Behrend's expertise in plastics and material science makes the college an obvious fit for the project, said Joseph Sinnott, director of economic development for Erie County.

"We have to focus on what we're good at," Sinnott said. "We have a significant history of plastics manufacturing and metals manufacturing in this region, and we should build on that."

To learn more about the initiative and the planned Center for Manufacturing Competitiveness at Behrend, visit the Project RESOLVE webpage.

Executives Enhance Business Education

Ten business leaders with experience in management, finance, and product innovation are serving as Executives in Residence in the Black School of Business this academic year. They are:

  • Janel Bonsell, C.P.A., C.F.E., C.F.F., principal, Schaffner, Knight, Minnaugh & Company, P.C.
  • Steven D. Bugajski, former chief information officer, U.S. Steel
  • Chris Elwell, C.P.A., Maloney, Reed, Scarpitti & Company, LLP
  • Keith C. Farrell, C.P.A., M.B.A., chief financial officer, RH energytrans
  • Melissa Gustafson, vice president, Sales and Product Strategy and Program Management, Erie Insurance
  • Jeff Hollenbeck, director of operations, Barnhart Transportation and Affiliates
  • Kim Kaercher, corporate marketing officer, Erie Insurance
  • Matthew MacBeth, founder, The Billion Dollar BHAG Movement
  • Eugene Natali, CEO and founder, Troutwood
  • Jeremy O'Mard, managing consultant, IBM Global Business Services

Executives in Residence lead workshops, sponsor class projects, judge business competitions, and provide career advising and mentoring to students. Each brings industry perspective and expertise to the classroom environment, student research, and student networking.

The program is an asset for students who gain hands-on, portfolio-building opportunities and begin to develop their professional networks. The guidance, mentoring, and firsthand experience the executives provide is invaluable. 

Etiquette Will Set You Apart

If you want to stand out in the corporate world, brush up on your business etiquette.

"It will be the skill that sets people apart in the professional world," said Eric Robbins, associate teaching professor of finance and associate director of corporate outreach and research for the Black School of Business. "The people who will rise to the surface are those with good soft skills for virtual meetings, email communications, and in-person interactions."

That's why, this spring, the Black School of Business put together "May the Fork Be With You," a business etiquette dinner that included a presentation on the importance of professional etiquette and communication. Speakers at the event included George Emanuele, then senior director of Global Investments for BNY Mellon, and Ann Scott, now retired community outreach manager for Erie Insurance.

While there are many nuances to business etiquette, Scott summed it up with a single rule of thumb: "The basics of etiquette are to make other people feel comfortable and confident." 

Ten takeaways from "May The Fork Be With You"

  • Do not overshare or make the conversation all about you.
  • Find common ground when networking—vacations, hobbies, etc. Have a list of conversation starters.
  • Introduce and include others in conversation.
  • Stay positive. Do not complain or talk about co-workers.
  • Follow the lead of your host (in choosing your meal based on price, whether or not to order an alcoholic drink, and where you're seated).
  • If seated, introduce yourself to everyone at the table.
  • Look for ways to give, help, and share in a conversation.
  • Demonstrate good table manners. Avoid ordering "messy" foods, eating too quickly, and be sure to put your napkin on your chair if you leave it.
  • Respect everyone, including the staff serving you.
  • Follow up with contacts you met at the event a day or two later. 

Faculty and Staff News

The Black School of Business welcomed one new faculty member, Dr. Soomin Park, assistant teaching professor of supply chain management. In addition, Ginny Schwartz has joined the school staff as administrative support assistant.


Two School of Business faculty members have been promoted: Richard Hedderick to associate teaching professor of finance and Dr. Joongseo Kim to associate professor of management.


Dr. Bill Johnson, professor of management, has been selected for the 2023- 2024 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to conduct research in Thailand.

Dr. Michael Brown, professor of management, and Dr. Jeff Pinto, professor of management, have been included in the 2023 ranking of the top 2% of the world's most-cited researchers, compiled by Stanford University. An article by Dr. Pinto has received the most-cited article for the year award by the International Journal of Project Management.

Carol Putman, associate teaching professor of management, received the Guy W. Wilson Award for Excellence in Academic Advising for 2023.

Dr. Hyunsoon (Sean) Yim, associate professor of marketing, received the best paper award for the Emerging Markets Showcase by the Decision Sciences Institute.

Research Award

Dr. Ken Louie, associate professor of economics, is part of a team of researchers that was awarded a $775,438 National Science Foundation grant to study "Future of Digital Facility Management." It is a multi-year grant to run from November 2023 through October 2027.

Other News

Dr. Greg Filbeck, former director of the Black School of Business, is serving as the interim vice chancellor and associate dean for Academic Affairs. Dr. Ozgun Demirag, professor of operations and supply chain management, is the school's interim director. Dr. Joongseo Kim, associate professor of management, is the interim associate director.  

Business Bites

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

Credit: Penn State Behrend

AACSB accreditation extended
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has extended its accreditation of the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend until 2028. The extension follows an intensive site visit and review by an AACSB Peer Review Team.

Fewer than 6 percent of all colleges and universities obtain AACSB accreditation. The process recognizes business schools that excel in learning and teaching, strategic management and innovation, academic and professional engagement, and active participation by students, faculty, and staff.

"AACSB accreditation is widely regarded as the gold standard for excellence in business education," said Dr. Ozgun Demirag, interim director of the Black School of Business and a professor of operations and supply chain management. "Being accredited by AACSB means that our curriculum meets the highest standards, our students learn from the best business minds, and our graduates are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and experience critical to achieving lifelong career success."

PSCM major now online
Penn State Behrend's Project and Supply Chain Management degree is now being offered online through Penn State World Campus. The 120-credit program provides students with skills and knowledge to effectively manage projects, programs, and supply chains.

Dr. Ray Venkataraman, department chair of the Black School's marketing and project and supply chain management programs, said the online program's curriculum consists of the same elements as the successful program that has been taught on campus.

He said the Black School of Business prepares its students with a learning-by-doing approach. Students can apply theories, concepts, and techniques learned in courses—including project planning and resource management, project risk management, purchasing and materials management, and operations planning and control—to real-life business scenarios.

"The fact that it is residential or online does not matter. They will have some kind of learning-by-doing scenarios in every course," Venkataraman said.

Chapters honored
The Delta Sigma Pi Professional Business Fraternity Chapter recently won two regional awards: Outstanding Alumni Relations Award for a Collegiate Chapter and District Director of the Year.

The Black School of Business' chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, the business honor society, recently earned Honors status. This achievement brings recognition and the opportunity to nominate candidates for global awards.

Building financial literacy
The Center for Financial Literacy, based in the Black School of Business, has a singular mission: to improve financial literacy skills and decision-making around money matters in high school students, secondary school educators, and adults.

The Center for Financial Literacy has partnered with the CFA Society of Pittsburgh to offer online resources, including video presentations on a variety of financial topics such as insurance, interest, student loans, credit cards, and understanding debt.