Behring receives Distinguished Alumni Award from alma mater

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Deanna Behring, assistant dean and director of international programs in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, is being lauded by her alma mater, Albion College, for her professional achievements.

Behring is a recipient of the college's Distinguished Alumni Award, an honor that recognizes alumni who have demonstrated excellence in career achievements and contributions to community and humanity.

"My academic journey at Albion expanded my world view and provided me with the knowledge, discipline and inspiration that I needed to have a meaningful and challenging professional life, and I look back on those years with gratitude," said Behring, a 1985 graduate of Albion's Gerald Ford Institute for Public Service with bachelor's degrees in economics and French, with a concentration in public policy through the Gerald Ford Institute.

Deanna Behring, assistant dean and director of international programs in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. Credit: Michael Houtz / Penn StateCreative Commons

As an undergraduate, she was a member of Alpha Chi Omega, Albion College Players and College Democrats. After graduation, she went on to earn a master's degree in international affairs from Ohio University. She also holds a doctorate in communication arts and sciences from Penn State.

As assistant dean and director of international programs for the College of Agricultural Sciences, Behring leads and coordinates the college's portfolio of international research and educational programs in food security, often using her skills in speaking Chinese and French.

Behring is credited with expanding the offerings, funding and enrollment for international programs in the college. She has been a leader in establishing the college's Gender in Agriculture, Energy and Environment Initiative, a network of interdisciplinary scholars and researchers that initiate and respond to new opportunities for research, instruction and evidence-based outreach that address the intersections of gender with agricultural and environmental sciences.

Also notable among her achievements is the creation of a dual-title graduate degree program, international agriculture and development. As a faculty affiliate in the Penn State School for International Affairs, she is a regular guest lecturer in courses to discuss food security as an aspect of national security.

Prior to joining Penn State in 2000, she was assistant director for international affairs in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Bill Clinton. She also worked on a global project for the U.S. Agency for International Development in upgrading primary healthcare to promote maternal and child health in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In addition, she analyzed international political and economic issues for the Central Intelligence Agency; served as an international consultant to the undersecretary for technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce; and chaired the International Agriculture Section of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

Behring is serving her first term as a member of State College Borough Council and is working on her first book, a guide to help students find their way in the "passion economy."

Her other accolades include the 2017 Achieving Women Award from the Penn State Commission for Women; the 2016 Distinguished Service Award from the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development; the 2008 Diversity Award from national Epsilon Sigma Phi; the 2003 LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award from Penn State; and the Exceptional Performance Award from the CIA in 1994, 1993 and 1990.

Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, said Behring is a champion for the college and its faculty and students.

"Deanna has been at the forefront of advancing international education initiatives, research opportunities and collaborations, all of which have helped position us to tackle global challenges such as food security, sustainable development and energy, and the status of women," he said.

"As a result of her leadership, our college is recognized as a leader in internationalization at Penn State. We are proud that she has been recognized by her alma mater for this prestigious award."

To view an interview with Behring, in which she discusses her academic journey and career, visit


Last Updated April 20, 2020