Penn State Lehigh Valley assistant professor retires after 44 years

September 29, 2015

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Peter Behrens, assistant professor of psychology and psychology program coordinator at Penn State Lehigh Valley, retired this spring after 44 years of service to the University.

Many of Behrens’ friends, family and colleagues attended a retirement celebration for him on Sunday, Sept. 27, at Green Pond Country Club in Bethlehem. Rosemary Hensel, legislative assistant from state Rep. Steve Samuelson’s office, presented Behrens with an official Pennsylvania House citation recognizing his professional excellence and many accomplishments to the community and to the Commonwealth.

Behrens, of Bethlehem, began as a part-time instructor during the later stages of his doctoral program at Lehigh University, but after a few terms of teaching he accepted a full-time position at Penn State Lehigh Valley, then known as Penn State Allentown. For many years, Behrens was both a member of the faculty and staff as an instructor in psychology and counselor, eventually turning to teaching full time. His private counseling practice in Bethlehem continues to this day.

He has researched and published extensively in the field, focusing on the history of psychology in particular. His recent research projects include the completion of an analysis of the published works of Otto Klemm (1884-1939), a German psychologist who contributed significantly to applied psychology and several projects exploring aspects of the history of radio psychology from its early days in the late 1920s through the Depression era. In 2010, Behrens was granted life status in the American Psychological Association by virtue of the number of years of membership and support to the association. His expertise has been called on to discuss the psychology behind doomsday "preppers," a subject that came up unexpectedly, but that he now plans to continue exploring in his retirement.

Behrens taught at five different locations of Penn State Lehigh Valley, under five different campus leaders. The accomplishment he is most proud of is his role in the establishment of the applied psychology four-year degree program, the first in the Commonwealth campus system, during the campus’ time as part of Berks-Lehigh Valley College in 2000.

“We really worked hard to make it a valuable degree with its mix of academics, internship and practical experience, and our unique senior capstone course to bring it all together,” said Behrens. “Our program set the bar.”

Behrens extended appreciation to, “the faculty for their camaraderie, to the administration and staff for their support and encouragement and to the students for their energy and commitment to psychology. All of this has made my years in service to the Lehigh Valley campus the best course a life could take.”

  • Peter Behrens and Rosemary Hensel

    State Rep. Steve Samuelson sent an official Pennsylvania House citation for Peter Behrens, assistant professor of psychology and psychology program coordinator at Penn State Lehigh Valley, honoring him on his retirement. Rosemary Hensel, left, Samuelson's legislative assistant, presented the citation to Behrens on Sept. 27 at his retirement celebration at Green Pond Country Club in Bethlehem,... Read more ›

    IMAGE: Judy Mishriki
Last Updated October 17, 2019