Center for Organizational Research and Evaluation receives new name

September 19, 2008

Erie, Pa. — Susan Hirt Hagen has committed a major gift to Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, to create an endowment for the Center for Organizational Research and Evaluation (CORE). Hagen has supported the center since its inception 10 years ago, providing the funding to develop and sustain CORE. In recognition of her continued commitment, Penn State President Graham Spanier announced on July 10 that the center has been named the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Organizational Research and Evaluation. Penn State's Board of Trustees approved the center's name at its meeting today (Sept. 19) at University Park.

Spanier announced the gift and naming at Penn State Behrend's 60th anniversary celebration dinner, marking the official start of the college's anniversary year during the University's Board of Trustees visit to Erie.

Founded in 1998, CORE is one of the region's leading advocates for combating social concerns that affect youth, from teen pregnancy and truancy prevention to healthy youth development initiatives.

"This gift will provide an endowment to support one of Penn State Behrend's most successful research centers," said Chancellor Jack Burke. "Susan Hagen is credited with recognizing the need for CORE and then stepping up to meet that need. We are very honored to help her achieve her goal of providing research-based programming to reduce teen pregnancy and support healthy youth development in the region. The health and well-being of our youth is of critical importance, and I greatly admire her commitment to improving the lives of others."

In the last decade, Erie County has seen a steady decline in teen pregnancy and teen birth rates. However, the teen birth rate increased by 3 percent in 2006, the most recent annual statistics available.

"The numbers speak for themselves," said Hagen. "CORE has seen a tremendous amount of success, which also means there is a tremendous need for the center and the services it provides. Our young people need to know that there are positive alternatives to risky behavior and that they can make those healthy choices." For example, CORE helped the Union City Area School District reduce its dropout and chronic truancy rates by 67.2 percent and 55 percent, respectively, within a two-year period.

Today, CORE works with nearly 50 social service and government agencies plus area businesses to promote teen pregnancy prevention and healthy youth development.

"We realized that in order for teen pregnancy prevention to be successful, the efforts must be systemic — involving all aspects of youths' lives and all segments of society," said Carl Kallgren, director of CORE. "As a result, it was necessary to broaden our original focus of teen pregnancy prevention to encompass healthy youth development."

CORE is an outreach unit of Penn State Behrend established to provide teen pregnancy prevention agencies with needed research, evaluation and proposal development services. It is one of more than two dozen outreach centers, programs and initiatives that Penn State Behrend offers for business and industry, area school students and the community.

Hagen is a long standing member of the Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows, a board member of Erie Indemnity Company (Erie Insurance Group) and co-trustee of the H.O. Hirt Trusts. She is director of the CORE Advisory Board. She has been a longtime community advocate for organizations geared toward helping young people, such as SafeNet, the Boys and Girls Club of Erie County, and the Ophelia Project. SafeNet's annual award for outstanding service — the Susan Hirt Hagen Award — is named in her honor.

Over the years, Hagen has served on the boards of and been active in many other organizations, including the Erie Philharmonic and the United Way, where she was its first female chair and received the Alexis de Tocqueville Award. She has served as a trustee of the Erie Community Foundation, the Chautauqua Institution and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She also served as a board member of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

Hagen is a graduate of Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, where she is a trustee emerita and received its Alumni Citation for community service. She holds a master's degree in counseling from Gannon University and received its Distinguished Alumni Citation. She has received numerous awards including Woman of the Year for community service in Erie County in 1975 during the International Woman's Year.

Susan Hagen and her husband, Thomas B. Hagen, have two children and three grandchildren. Thomas Hagen, a Penn State Behrend alumnus, is a member and past chair of Penn State Behrend's Council of Fellows and, in 1988, received the Penn State Alumni Fellow Award. He is chairman of the board of Erie Insurance Group, and chairman/owner of Custom Group Industries.

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, is a comprehensive residential college offering 34 baccalaureate, six associate, four pre-professional and two graduate degree programs with 22 minors to more than 4,400 students. Focused on providing a student-centered environment, Penn State Behrend is the link that connects its students to a major research and land-grant institution on a campus enriched by more than 110 clubs and organizations, 21 NCAA varsity teams and 19 intramural sports. Penn State Behrend is named in recognition of a donation by Mary Behrend, widow of Ernst Behrend, who founded the Hammermill Paper Co. in Erie in 1898. The Behrend family lived on the 400-acre Glenhill Farm, which is the core of the Penn State Behrend campus today. For more information, visit

  • Susan Hirt Hagen

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated November 18, 2010