Kochel Center gets a makeover


By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Have you noticed the new have-a-seat-and-stay-a-while environment at Irvin Kochel Center? The stiff, metal benches that once lined the halls are gone, replaced by attractive plush chairs and wooden end tables. On the lower floor, the computer kiosks have been revamped and carpeting put down to add warmth and help muffle echoing footsteps.

The changes are largely the result of suggestions made by students.

“Projects done by students in CAS 252: Business and Professional Communication helped drive many of the improvements to the civility and quality of the Kochel physical and social environment, including the digital signage screens, the up-scale coffee machine, the new furniture, and the printer near the new computer kiosk,” said Dr. Rod Troester, associate professor of communication.

According to Dr. Ken Miller, senior director of campus planning and student affairs, funds from the Student Facility Fee paid for the furniture and carpet, funds from Technology Fee paid for the computers and kiosks, and Housing and Food Services provided the coffee machine.

“It was really a team effort to improve a highly-trafficked area,” Miller said.

Students seem to have embraced the kinder, softer Kochel Center. When I walked through on a Thursday at 2 p.m., nearly every comfy seat in the house was taken.


Regarding the SFF

Projects funded by the Student Facility Fee are voted on by students. The Kochel project was placed on a campus-wide survey of students who indicated it as a priority for improvement. Then, the SFF committee, a nine-member group with six students as voting members, chose to fund the project. (Currently, Kyle Stephan, student government association president, and Miller co-chair the SFF committee.)

The SFF Committee also funded the construction of The Galley (which Housing and Food Services outfitted), lighting of the soccer/lacrosse field, Reed Auditorium and lounge renovations, and hydration stations across campus.

Future projects under consideration include, the Mary Behrend Monument and Memorial Garden, a recreation center, and a Frisbee golf course.

As for those metal benches that were removed for Kochel? They will likely be repurposed for outdoor use around campus.

International Coastal Cleanup soggy, but successful

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

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Steady rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of nearly 100 Penn State Behrend students, faculty members, staff, and friends who participated in Saturday’s Pennsylvania-Lake Erie International Coastal Cleanup, an annual event in which volunteers collect garbage from more than a dozen waterways and sites in Erie County.

Penn State Behrend typically focuses on the Four Mile Creek, which flows through Wintergreen Gorge, cleaning it (and it’s tributaries) from the headwaters in Greene Township to the mouth where it empties into the lake in Lawrence Park.

But a steady all-night rain and rushing storm waters made Four Mile too dangerous to clean on Saturday morning.

“The only spot we could safely clean up off campus was an area at the mouth of Four Mile creek ,” said Ann Quinn, lecturer in biology and coordinator of Behrend’s International Coastal Cleanup

There, a school bus full of students, faculty and staff collected 372 pounds of trash, including a tire and an anchor.

My daughter, 10, and I were among the group cleaning up at the mouth of Four Mile. As we left the site, lugging out our bags and bags of trash and recycleables, a slight movement in the sand caught my eye.

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A baby snapping turtle.

I couldn’t believe that none of us had trampled the little thing in our cleanup efforts.  My daughter and I marveled at the tiny creature for a few moments. She, of course, wanted to take him home. I, of course, said no.

“He is home,” I said as I put him down on the beach where he blended perfectly into the sand and rocks on the shore of the lake.

“Well, then, I’m glad we made it a little cleaner for him,” she said.

“Yeah, me, too,” I said.

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Back at Penn State Behrend, another group of volunteers conducted a clean up around the Wintergreen Gorge where they collected 150 pounds of trash, 75 each of recyclables and trash. And more than 1,000 cigarette butts!

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A Glenhill proposal


By Heather Cass, Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Glenhill Farmhouse has been the location for everything from Behrend family dinners to VIP luncheons to a women’s dormitory to the chancellor’s office.

Last weekend, it became the location for a marriage proposal when Greg Bossart ’12 proposed to Emily Harrington ’12.

The two met in Antonella Cupillari’s Introduction to Mathematical Proofs Class.

“Neither of us knew anyone in the class and we ended up sitting next to each other. Group work was a strong component of weekly assignments in the class and since Greg looked like the friendliest person there, I quickly asked him to be my partner,” Emily said. “I never expected (nor did he) that my math partner would end up changing my life.”

Their partnership grew, progressing from homework “dates” to real dates. The two would often engage in long talks over cups of coffee at the State Street Starbucks in downtown Erie.

Soon, they were a couple, sharing many, many long walks across campus from Burke Center (Greg was an Electrical Engineering major) to the Otto Behrend Science Hall (Emily was a molecular biology and biochemistry major).

“We took that walk between REDC and OBS/NICK so many times, sharing casual conversation and deeper ones including talking about some of the harder times we were both going through,” she said. “There were so many times that while walking side by side, we would slow down just to enjoy our surroundings. The serenity of the campus and natural beauty are beyond compare.”

On Saturday, September 14, Greg woke Emily up early and asked her to get in the car. He had made a CD full of songs reminiscent of their college days when they would share an iPod while studying in the library together.

 “We arrived at Behrend and got out of the car, taking our ever-familiar walk,” Emily said. “As the sun poked through the clouds in the early morning, and while Behrend students all slept in their beds, Greg took me over to the Glenhill Farmhouse, kissed me, and dropped to one knee.”

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She said yes, of course.

“Greg and I are best friends and share a love that started at Penn State Behrend; there was nothing more perfect than coming full circle and returning to the place where we started to grow as individuals, met, and fell in love to become engaged to each other in this place,” she said.

We think it’s perfect, too.

Well done, Greg. Congratulations to both of you!

Greg and Emily

Editors note: Um…Greg, what’s with the Pitt hat? LOL. It’s OK, we know you love PSU more.

Greg and Emily currently live in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Greg is an electrical engineer at ATI Allegheny Ludlum and is working on his Masters in electrical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Emily is a Ph.D. student in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a laboratory research position at Magee-Women’s Research Institute working on her thesis project on breast cancer.

~ Heather 

P.S. We hope to welcome some little Bossarts here in 20 or 30 years. 😉 (I’m just sayin’)

Campus running routes, 5Ks, and more


By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

With more than 850 acres of property in beautiful Harborcreek Township, Penn State Behrend’s campus is a runner’s paradise.

Offering everything from paved paths to cross-country paths through fields to rugged trails through the Wintergreen Gorge to a brand new 8-lane competition-level track, you’ll never run out of places to…well, run at Behrend.

Another thing you’ll never run out of here? Hills. Just try to find a route around this campus that doesn’t include hills (not counting doing circles around the track!). The good thing, though, is that hills will make you a better, stronger, and faster runner/walker and you’ll learn to love them (or you’ll love to hate them).

In winter, the campus paths are well maintained and lighted, making it a safe alternative in the dark, snowy days of winter. And, yes, you should run outside in winter — it’s spectacular! (But, please be safety minded and run with a friend, or two…or ten).

I have several routes I like to run around campus with friends, including (click on the links for a map on mapmyrun.com):

* A 5-mile Summer Loop.  This route starts on the Bayfront Bikeway trail (back corner of Erie lot) and winds its way down Shannon to Cooper Road and back up to campus via the Wintergreen Gorge trail before heading up to Knowledge Park to loop through the wooded paths and circle back to the parking lot.

* A 5-mile Winter Loop. This is much like my summer loop, but it cuts out the Wintergreen Gorge portion as it’s not safe to run through there in the winter (it’s not plowed or lighted) and we spend a little more time in Knowledge Park, which is both lighted, plowed.

* A 5K (3.1 miles) from Junker Center. This is a challenging course thanks to the giant hill that is old Station Road.

* A 12.5-miler from Knowledge Park. In the mood to go long? This is a fairly simple long run route takes advantage of the peaceful country roads you’ll find south of campus.

* A simple 1.5-mile loop in Knowledge Park. It may sound boring to loop, but Knowledge Park is wooded and beautiful any time of the year and, after 6 p.m., there is virtually no traffic, but plenty of street light.

Want more options?

Just search for “Behrend” on Mapmyrun.com and you’ll find a whole list of running routes that other people planned, including some trail runs mapped by police services officer Dave Lesher and a nice  8-miler (beware of Kane Hill…it is, um, a challenge!) mapped by Chris Coulston, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Of course you can also map your own route. If you do, be sure to “unlock” it so the rest of us can try your route, too!

A few words about safety

Again, please run with a friend (or a few) because some of the routes I listed above take you into isolated areas that don’t see much traffic. There is safety in numbers.

And, of course, heed the basic rules of runner safety, including wearing reflective gear (white won’t cut it).

Racing around Behrend

Ready to test your meddle? You’ve got two opportunities to race around campus in October, which is, of course, one of the most gorgeous times to run on campus!

The Harvest Hoof-It is a 5K run or a 2.5-mile fun walk on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 9 a.m. sponsored by WCTL, Erie’s Christian radio station. More info/application here.

The Penn State Behrend cross-country team is hosting a Twilight 5K at Behrend on Friday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. The Twilight event includes a 5K run, a 2-mile fun walk and a kids’ race, too. More info/application will be posted here.

~ Heather

P.S. If you have questions about running at Behrend, or the upcoming races, feel free to email me at hjc13 at psu.edu.

Help needed for International Coastal Cleanup (free T-shirt and lunch!)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

1,400 pounds – that’s the total weight in trash that 150 Penn State Behrend students, faculty members, and staff cleaned out of Fourmile creek during last year’s International Coastal Cleanup.

From the headwaters of the creek at Hartman Road in Greene Township through campus (Fourmile is the creek that runs through Wintergreen Gorge) and on to Napier Park in Wesleyville, volunteers collected 63 bags of trash and 58 bags of recyclable materials.

That’s a lot of cigarette butts, candy wrappers, and soda cans that didn’t make it into the lake (because, eventually, it all ends up in the lake!)

You have to step back and realize that the watershed is not just water,” said Ann Quinn, lecturer in biology and coordinator of Behrend’s International Coastal Cleanup. “It’s everything that leads into it.”

The Pennsylvania-Lake Erie International Coastal Cleanup is an annual event in which volunteers collect garbage from more than a dozen sites in Erie County, including Presque Isle State Park.

This year’s cleanup event is scheduled for Saturday, September 21 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Can you help?  Faculty members and staff are needed to help lead student groups. Community members and children are welcome to participate, too.  Bring the whole family!

Volunteers will meet in front of Reed Union Building at 9:30 a.m.  All necessary materials (gloves, trash bags, etc.) will be provided, and you’ll also get a free T-shirt and a free lunch at Bruno’s after the cleanup.

Word to the wise: wear boots and/or shoes that can get wet & dirty!

If you can volunteer, please contact Ann Quinn at abq1 at psu.edu by Saturday, September 14!

Engineers = cool (Track the Behrend shuttle bus in real time)

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Holli Levan boards “the e” Behrend shuttle bus

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

When I started working here two years ago, if you would have told me that engineers would become some of my favorite people to deal with, I’d have thought you sprained your brain doing a few too many Suduko puzzles or something (engineers like those, right?).

Engineers are all about math and science and, well….writers are not. I figured that I’d have nothing in common with these sensible, logical, numbers-loving people.

My mistake was assuming that sensible, logical numbers lovers = no fun.

Silly me.

Engineers do all kinds of fun things around here such as sticking a receiver on the Behrend shuttle  that tracks the bus in real time.  Then, following it up with a hilarious FAQ page that made me giggle for the next three days.

The funny man behind the FAQ is Dr. Chris Coulston, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, who oversaw the engineering students — Daniel Hankewycz and Austin Kelleher — who worked on this project.  Dr. Coulston is endlessly energetic and cheerful, always entertaining, and has a knack for explaining complicated engineering projects in such a way that anyone can understand (Um, I guess that’s why he’s a teacher).

(By the way, Dr. Coulston can also run like the wind for miles and miles and miles — like 100 of them in a weekend. But that’s a story for another day, kids.)

So, the next time you think engineers are boring, read this.

And the next time you’re waiting for the campus shuttle bus to arrive, check this.

And for the love of the world wide web, stop using Internet Explorer!

~ Heather

P.S. Cool engineering projects aren’t limited to campus. In fact, most of the projects that our students work on are for outside industry partners.  They have helped rescue draft horses, designed award-winning supermileage vehicles, and improved the bubble exhibit at the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum.

Windows 8 cheat sheets


By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

One of the greatest things about working at a university is having access to experts in nearly anything you can think of.

Have a question about the geology of the Wintergreen Gorge? Ask Dr. Tony Foyle, associate professor of Geology. Wondering how you can build a better mousetrap? Call Dr. Robert Weissbach, associate professor of engineering. Need help identifying the strange bird you saw? Ask Dr. Margaret Voss, associate professor of biology.

You get the picture.

But the experts on campus aren’t limited to the classroom. They can be found all over campus, from The Learning Resource Center to the Academic & Career Planning Center to the Computer Center.

For instance, Carolyn Dudas, web developer/information specialist, recently compiled a list of “cheat sheets” full of helpful hints and tips for those making the transition to Windows 8.

“If you’re new to Windows 8, you may be feeling somewhat lost and experiencing frustration, especially since it is drastic change from the former operating system.  So to ease a bit of the learning curve, I’ve compiled a few resources that you might find helpful.  You can access the list here.”

I recently bought a new personal laptop that has Windows 8 on it and I have found it very challenging to adapt to. I was grateful for Carolyn’s expertise and her thoughtfulness in sharing what she found.

So now, I’m compounding that by sharing it with all of you. Pass it on.

Good luck with Windows 8 and remember:

It  is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that  survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. — Charles  Darwin

~ Heather

Stay informed in an emergency: Sign up for PSUTXT

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By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

One of the first pieces of advice I received from colleagues when I started working in the Office of Marketing Communication at Penn State Behrend was: When dealing with students, get a cell phone number.  Smartphones are the preferred means of communication for today’s college students, especially if you want to spread news fast.

That’s why Penn State developed PSUTXT, a service designed to alert the University community when situations arise that affect the ability of a campus to function normally. Subscribers can receive alerts by text message to their cell phones, and also can elect to have alerts sent to an email address.

Why sign up? Three words for you, my Penn State Behrend friends: Winter is coming.

PSUTXT is the fastest way to receive communication about campus closure, delays, and, occasionally, information about major traffic problems on I-90 and I-79.

The service is used sparingly and only in the event of an emergency or situation that may affect your health or safety.

You can sign up here. Note that you can elect to receive alerts only from Penn State Behrend, if you wish.