By Heather Cass,
Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend
Glenn Brooks ’86 is the first to admit he wasn’t exactly a standout scholar during his years as a Management major at Penn State Behrend. “To be honest, I wasn’t an exemplary student at Behrend, in or outside of the classroom,” he said. “However, my Behrend experiences truly refined my character and taught me to work hard, to never give up, and to persevere.”
These lessons have served Brooks well, helping him build a successful life and career. In recognition and gratitude, he felt the need to give back by joining the Penn State Behrend Alumni Society board of directors.
“I really wanted to serve in a capacity that I would have never dreamed of doing back when I graduated in the 1980s,” he said.
The Behrend alumni board has fifteen members who serve three-year terms, helping to engage Behrend’s alumni ranks of 37,000-plus, a number that grows every year as more graduates are welcomed into the alumni family.
Board member Haley Sharp is a relatively recent graduate, having obtained her degree in Mechanical Engineering in December of 2013. Sharp, who currently works as a thermal engineer at Naval Nuclear Laboratory, in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, said she joined the board to “give back to a place that gave her so much as a student and a person.”
“It’s very rewarding for me to turn around and give that experience and passion for Behrend back to the current and new students,” Sharp said. “I enjoy interacting with each and every student I get to meet, and it’s fun to talk about our experiences, whether they are similar or different.”
Brooks agreed that serving on the board is a labor of love.
“I truly enjoy working with so many alumni from different years and different majors to help today’s student with the challenges they may face and to encourage them to get involved with the alumni board after they graduate,” Brooks said.
Behrend Blog talked with Kristen Comstock ’06, assistant director of alumni relations, to learn more about the board, the commitment required of its members, and why the board’s role in alumni relations.
What is the Behrend Alumni Society Board of Directors? What is its role?
The main goal of the board is to engage Behrend alumni via events, communications, volunteer involvement, campus interaction, and more. The Society also created an endowed scholarship fund, which we raise money for each year, primarily through our annual Creamery Ice Cream sale. The scholarship now has more than $150,000 in its endowment that benefits Penn State Behrend students!
How does the Behrend alumni board fit into the larger Penn State picture?
The Behrend Alumni Society is a branch of the Penn State Alumni Association and receives an annual allocation from the Alumni Association to offer a variety of activities. Since its organization in 1987, the society has developed a variety of programs and activities for alumni to continue their relationship with the college.
What is the term?
Appointment to the board is for a term of three years. Board members must also be members of the Penn State Alumni Association, either paid yearly or lifetime members.
What is the commitment for board members? What are they asked to do?
We meet four to six times a year, both in-person and online via video/phone conference). All board members focus on two support areas: outreach and campus involvement.
Outreach involves social and professional networking opportunities, maintaining communication with alumni, generating ideas for the annual alumni reunion, and helping coordinate events.
Campus involvement includes helping provide opportunities for students and faculty and staff members to develop a closer affiliation with the society by co-sponsoring campus activities, creating mentor programs, interacting with student organizations, and recognizing students with awards and scholarships.
Why is an alumni board important?
The members serve as an advisory committee and driving force behind many of our alumni engagement opportunities, such as our Parents, Families and Alumni Weekend events as well as the annual Alumni Wine Tour and Pittsburgh Pirates game outing. They support fundraising for the endowed alumni scholarship to provide Behrend students with financial support. Additionally, board members serve as a resource for faculty members (as guest speakers, for example) and admissions (helping to host send-off picnics and writing welcome notes to accepted students).
Who are the current board members?
An updated list of board members is available at behrend.psu.edu/alumni.
On a fun note, we hear there’s a baby boom on the current board.
Yes! Several board members have just had babies: Ashley Brightwell ’13; Sarah (Magrini) Giambanco ’12, ’15; and Brian Wilking ’15, ’17. Board member Kyle Cyphert ’15 and his wife are expecting in June.
How can alumni join the board?
Alumni who are interested in serving on the board should send a resume or CV to Kristen Comstock at email@example.com for the board’s review. After a resume has been reviewed, current board members vote on accepting the candidate. An offer letter is then sent, with a Penn State Alumni Association membership card/brochure, if that alumna or alumnus is not already a member.