Award-winning Beaver faculty members open Speakers Series

September 20, 2012

Three of Penn State Beaver’s award-winning faculty members will present the first program in the 2012-13 Faculty Speakers Series, noon, Wednesday, Sept. 26, room 16, Student Union Building, on the Beaver campus. Speakers are Robin Bower, associate professor of Spanish; Robert Szymczak, associate professor of history; and Karen Barr, senior instructor in business. The topic will be attaining teaching excellence.

Earlier this year, Bower was one of two Penn State faculty members to receive the Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching, which honors those who have an extensive record of outstanding teaching and who provide teaching support or mentoring to other faculty. Szymczak and Barr received the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching which honors exemplary teaching at the undergraduate level. Ten years ago Syzmczak was one of four Penn State faculty members honored with the award, and earlier this year, Barr was one of six faculty to be honored.

Bower is a recipient of the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board Faculty Excellence in Research Award. She is the campus honors program coordinator and is co-chair of the Penn State Beaver Retention Task Force and Pedagogy Subcommittee. She holds a doctorate from Columbia as well as a master’s degree in Medieval and Golden Age and a master’s degree in Latin American literature. She received a bachelor’s degree from West Chester University and also studied at St. Louis University in Spain.

Szymczak is the recipient of the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board Excellence in Research Award and the Penn State Commonwealth College Excellence in Teaching Award. In addition, he is a three-time recipient of the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board Excellence in Teaching Award. He holds a doctorate in modern world history from Carnegie Mellon University; a doctorate in recent American history and politics from Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK; a master’s degree in liberal studies from Duquesne University; a master’s degree in history/international relations and a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from West Virginia University, and a certificate of study from Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland.

Barr is the recipient of the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board Excellence in Teaching Award and the Outstanding Academic Advisor Award. She receives consistently high student ratings of teaching effectiveness, particularly with respect to the clarity of her presentations, her interest in teaching the course and her willingness to help students make progress. She holds a master’s degree in business administration and corporate finance from California State University and a bachelor's degree in nursing from Ohio State University.

The faculty can be contacted as follows: Bower at or 724-773-3886, Szymczak at or 724-773-3895, and Barr at or 724-773-3869.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 25, 2012