Penn State Behrend’s Highlights of 2013

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

It’s hard to believe, but 2013 will soon be a thing of the past.

The year was a busy one here at Behrend. Most notably, we welcomed the second-largest freshmen class in school history, and our fall athletic teams also achieved unprecedented success.

Of course, those were just two of the more memorable happenings from this past year. I’ve always enjoyed the various “Year in Review” articles and videos that circulate toward the end of each year, and why should Behrend be left out of all the fun?

Take a moment to watch the video above to see a slew of the college’s 2013 highlights.

Happy New Year to all, and here’s to 2014!

4 last-minute gift ideas for gamers


Dr. Matthew White, lecturer in game development

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Um….this is hard to believe, but Christmas is just 6 days away. Yeah, I know, the late Thanksgiving threw us all for a loop this year. This coming weekend is your last chance to shop for the big day.

Don’t panic, we can help. We asked Dr. Matt White, lecturer in game development, to give us some last-minute, go-to gaming gift ideas.

And, yes, there is educational value to gaming (when not abused)! Read: Video Games Can Actually Be Good for Kids and Forbe’s Want to be Smarter? Play Video Games.


1. Kerbal Space Program 7-99. Excellent game about space exploration.  Fun and silly for kids, but serious enough for adults.  PC only.


2. Nintendo 3DS Zelda Bundle. 3DS and Zelda packaged together.  How could you not like this one?


3. PS4/Xbox One. No need for me to write glowing words. These systems sell themselves.


4. Minecraft.  Best PC game for children hands down.  Fosters creativity, fun, adults like it, too!

Recommended gift ideas from faculty and staff members

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Forget Furby and Tickle-Me Elmo. Those “hot” holiday toys rarely stand the test of time. For most kids, interest in these trendy, flashy toys fizzles before the garbage truck carries off the boxes.

We asked a few Penn State Behrend faculty and staff members who oversee outreach programs for younger students to tell us what they wish parents/caregivers would give to the kids on their list.

Here are their top choices:


School of Science 

Ideas provided by Tracy Halmi, senior lecturer in chemistry

  • Legos.  Check out where you’ll find lots of great information and shop by grade level.
  • Books that encourage experimenting. Three good titles: Apples, Bubbles and Crystals: Your Science ABCs, Best of Wonder Science, ChemClub Cookbook. You can find many more chemistry books here.
  • Snap Circuits. These make a great gift and they are available in a variety of sets so you can find one that will fit your budget.
  • Science kits. There are no shortage of fun science kits available for kids today (spa science, sci-fi slime, crystal-growing kit, butterfly kit). Look for them in craft and book stores.
  • Classic toys:  You can never go wrong with toys that have spanned decades, such as silly putty, Slinkies, and Spirograph.


School of Business

Ideas provided by Erica Jackson, Director of the Center for Financial and Consumer Outreach

  • Games that allow kids to play as grownups.  Teach kids how to budget their money by giving games like The Game of Life and Monopoly. These games teach children how to live within their means, receive a paycheck, work investment deals, and pay their bills.
  • Toy ATM. Toy ATMs, like the one manufactured by The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute $40, accepts real coins and bills and displays accurate, up-to-date account information on the screen. Kids even get their own ATM card and PIN number.
  • Piggy bank or a safe. If the child on your list has outgrown cutesy banks, look for a mini safe or vault that opens only by secret code or your child’s voice, which makes saving money more fun and easier to do around little siblings looking to share the wealth.



School of Engineering

Ideas provided by Melanie Ford, lecturer in computer science and software engineering

  • K’nex.  One step up from Legos, K’nex are slightly more sophisticated building toys. The roller coaster and simple machines kits teach students basic engineering and physics principles.
  • Origami kits/books. Origami, the art of Japanese paper folding, teaches students spatial skills.
  • Logic puzzles/games. These types of games and puzzles teach problem solving skills — a key concept for all engineers! The Perplexes Maze Games are a favorite among kids. has many more great ideas.
  • GoldieBlox. Part construction set, part story book, the creator of GoldieBlox (a young female engineer herself) aims to tap into girls’ strong verbal skills, while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.
  • Lego Mindstorms. Classic building bricks + robotics = one cool egineering lesson (but don’t tell the kids they are learning, they just think it’s cool.)

art kit

School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Ideas provided by Dr. Thomas Noyes, associate professor of English and creative writing; Kim Todd, assistant professor of English and creative writing

  • Art supply sets. Participation in the visual arts helps children develop an imagination and sharpen their eye for detail.
  • Award-winning books. Any book is a great gift, but quality children’s fiction books, such as Newbery Award Winners, are an especially good choice.
  • Nature journalThe Nature Connection, An Outdoor Workbook for Kids and Families (by Claire Walker Leslie) is a nature journal full of activities and prompts for each month. Parents can guide younger kids through it on a walk or a hike; older kids can just put it in their backpacks and do the activities themselves when they feel like it.

Story behind the Hanging of the Greens (the college’s oldest tradition)

Hanging the Greens

By Robb Frederick
Public Information Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

In December 1948 – just two months after the dedication of what was then called the Behrend Center – T. Reed Ferguson, the administrator of the new campus, placed a wreath on the doors of a small chapel in Wintergreen Gorge Cemetery.

That was a favor to Mary Behrend, who had donated her family’s Erie farm property to Penn State. She had moved to Connecticut and was unable to visit the chapel, as she had in years past. She asked Ferguson to hang the wreath in honor of her husband and son, who were interred inside.

Every year since, a small group of students, faculty members, staff and alumni has returned to the chapel. Holding candles, they sing Christmas carols and give thanks to the family that made Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, possible.

A reading

This year’s program will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. Shuttle service will be offered from the Reed Union Building.

“It’s a very different feeling, when you gather in there,” said Ken Miller, senior director for campus planning and student affairs. “You’re singing Christmas carols. Everybody’s holding a candle. It’s special.”


The program honors Ernst and Mary Behrend, whose 400-acre farm property is now a four-year college with 4,350 students. It also pays tribute to their son Warren, who died on Dec. 19, 1929, while driving to South Carolina for a family holiday. He had swerved to avoid a school bus, which a 16-year-old student was driving.

No one on the bus was hurt.

Warren’s death devastated the Behrends. “They say Ernst never got over it,” Miller said.

Mary Behrend spent less time at the farm, choosing instead to live at the family’s home in Connecticut. In the spring of 1948, while returning from a cross-country trip, she stopped at the property. From a window, she noticed two men walking. She went out to talk and learned they were scouting land for a new Penn State campus. Within six months, they would have it.

Entering the chapel

Paint the campus purple for #AJO


From left, Anthony Cremonese, Melissa Lichtinger, and Antoine Holman are part of the student team working on the #AJO Forever Foundation website.

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Melissa Lichtinger, a senior majoring in international business and marketing, was working at the Make a Wish booth at a women’s expo in Erie this October when she met Alyssa O’Neill’s father, Jason, and knew she wanted to do whatever she could to help with the #AJO campaign.

AJO stands for Alyssa J. O’Neill, 18, who was a first-year student at Penn State Behrend when she died after suffering a grand mal seizure at home. The day before her death, O’Neill had texted her mother, saying they should meet at Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte. After her funeral, her parents, Jason and Sarah, bought ten of the drinks for strangers. The barista marked the cups—using purple, a color associated with epilepsy awareness—with #AJO.

That spurred a far broader pay-it-forward campaign. People paid for strangers’ meals, gas, groceries and layaway purchases. They sent #AJO photos from London, Iraq and the Canary Islands. It’s still going. The #AJO Forever in Our Hearts Facebook page has more than 41,000 “likes.”

“Jason said that he and his wife were overwhelmed just trying to keep up with the photos and correspondence pouring in through the AJO  Facebook page,” Lichtinger said. “I wondered how, with my background in marketing, I could help them.”

She asked Dr. Kathleen Noce, senior lecturer in management information systems, if Partnership Erie, a nonprofit outreach extension of the Sam and Irene Black School of Business, could develop a new eCommerce website and social media strategy for the AJO Forever foundation.

Noce agreed and Lichtinger recruited four more students—Anthony Cremonese, Antoine Holman, Kelsie Noce, and Michael Thompson—to work on the project with her.

The new site is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

But Lichtinger didn’t think that was enough. “I really wanted to do something to raise money for the foundation,” she said.

So she talked to Rhonda Reynolds, a Housing and Food Services employee who helped create a very successful employee service committee, and together they came up with the idea to “paint the campus purple” on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Students, faculty, and staff are all invited to wear purple and take part in making the letters #AJO for a group photo on Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. in the Clark Café in the Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center. Participants are asked to give at least $2 to the AJO Forever Fund to be a part of the photo.

Students will begin collecting donations at 3 p.m. The first 200 to donate will receive a free purple hat!

The event is sponsored by The Sam and Irene Black School of Business, Partnership Erie, Behrend Commission for Women, the School of Nursing, and Grimm’s Embroidery.

Hope to see you there!