Campus Life

Students, community invited to Engagement Expo

This year’s keynote speaker, Joe Battista, will share his 'Pragmatic Passion'

Joe Battista speaks at Happy Valley LaunchBox in State College. Credit: Submitted PhotoAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State students and the community are invited to the Student Engagement Network Expo on Wednesday, Nov. 13, in the HUB-Robeson Center’s Alumni Hall, with events running from 6-9 p.m.

The event is a chance for students to show off how they’ve become engaged at Penn State through any number of avenues — a club, sport, research project or artistic venture. The night will feature live performances starting at 5:45 p.m. with Casey Brown, then Jazz Cat at 6:15 p.m. and The Statesmen at 6:40 p.m.

A poster session by students on engagement will start at 6 p.m. and TED-style lightning round presentations will start at 7:10 p.m.

Capping off the night will be keynote speaker Joe Battista, who coached Penn State hockey for 19 years and was instrumental in helping to negotiate the gift that led to the construction of the Pegula Ice Arena. He also worked as an executive for the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and held other high-level positions at Penn State. He has been inducted into the American Collegiate Hockey Association Hall of Fame and Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, among other prestigious accomplishments.

Since his days on the ice, Battista has written the book “The Power of Pragmatic Passion: 7 Common Sense Principles for Achieving Personal & Professional Success.” The writing began in 2017, he said during an interview, but it’s the culmination of a lifetime of leadership experience and the distillation of everything he has learned and researched for professional development.

“What I wanted to do was look back at all the experiences that I’ve lived through, and read, and try to put together a more simple and common-sense based approach,” Battista said.

Battista has coached nearly a thousand college students during his career and influenced thousands more through yearly camps. He is adamant about the development of “essential” skills (his word for soft skills, a term he eschews) that he believes can only be learned through intention and practice by becoming involved in an activity such as a club, sport or organization.

The people who have these skills, he said, are the ones “that are going to have the margin of excellence. They’re going to get more done. They’re going to build better teams because it’s going to be more authentic.”

His talk on Wednesday evening will revolve around his idea of “pragmatic passion,” with pragmatic being your head and passion being your heart. There must be both, he said, and a path to practical success comes through the seven principles of purpose, attitude, sacrifice, servant leadership, inspiration, options and nurture.

“What I will do is give real-life examples of how implementing those makes a difference in terms of your engagement,” he said. “If you have a purpose, you’ll be more engaged. If you have the right attitude, you’re going to be more engaged. If you’re willing to make sacrifices and a commitment, you’ll be more engaged.”

The Student Engagement Network is a joint initiative of Penn State Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs, and Outreach and Online Education. The mission of the Student Engagement Network is to advance the power of participation by connecting students with experiences that empower them to make a positive impact as citizens and leaders of the world.

For more information about the Student Engagement Network, visit or email

Last Updated November 07, 2019