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Bechtel-Wherry to retire from PSU at end of year

Penn State Altoona dean has been at the campus for 38 years

Penn State Altoona Chancellor and Dean Lori Bechtel-Wherry will retire in December, according to a press release from the campus.

The first woman to hold the position at the commonwealth campus, Bechtel-Wherry served at Penn State Altoona for 38 of her 43 years in higher education.

Beginning her tenure as chancellor and dean in 2005, Bechtel-Wherry has also served as a professor of biobehavioral health and women’s, gender and sexuality studies.

“Penn State Altoona has seen transformational change under Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry’s leadership,” said Kelly Austin, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor at Penn State in the release. “The student experience has been enhanced through program expansion, facility upgrades and community outreach. Lori enjoys long-standing excellent relationships with members of the broader community and is admired by alumni, community friends and business leaders. She has been an exceptional steward of the campus and the university in the region.”

In the release, Bechtel-Wherry, who earned her doctorate in health education at Penn State, said she’ll look back fondly on her time as a leader at the Altoona campus.

“I will forever cherish the friendships and working relationships with faculty, staff and our many supporters that were formed during my nearly 40 years of service at Penn State Altoona,” Bechtel-Wherry said in a release. “It has been my privilege to collaborate with colleagues who share my passion for our college and community. It also has been especially rewarding to witness the growth of our students; their commitment to volunteerism on campus, in central Pennsylvania and around the world; and their success in their chosen vocations. Working together, we have accomplished many goals and have made a positive difference in our region.”

Bechtel-Wherry is credited with facilitating the acquisition of several buildings in downtown Altoona to create the Penn State Altoona Downtown Campus and with aiding in the creation of a bike trail between the Ivyside and Downtown campuses.

Under her tenure, Penn State Altoona has expanded its academic offerings to include the only environmental studies program offered by a Penn State campus. In addition, Penn State Altoona added the rail transportation engineering program, the only degree of its kind in the nation.

“After 43 years in higher education, with 38 of those years at Penn State, I am ready to embark on new adventures and spend more time with my family,” Bechtel-Wherry said of her retirement.

Mirror Staff Writer Andrew Mollenauer is at 814-946-7428.

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