Robert W. Speel, associate professor of political science at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, is the recipient of the 2010 Undergraduate Program Leadership Award.
The award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated exemplary leadership benefiting a Penn State undergraduate degree program. Specifically, it recognizes those individuals who have major responsibilities for the delivery of undergraduate education within a unit and who are providing leadership that has transformed or revitalized the undergraduate program in some way.
Under Speel’s direction as program chair for political science, the program’s enrollment has grown to the point where the major is the third-largest in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, with its largest enrollment ever and typically graduating at least one Schreyer scholar each year. Through Speel's "constant attention to faculty recruitment and curriculum," one nominator noted, the Behrend College political science major is recognized for its academic demands, including required number of credits and distribution of subject areas.
Speel has organized a community advisory board for the political science program so students and distinguished alumni can discuss political questions, curricular content and employment opportunities. He has developed several courses and a Washington, D.C., field trip that gives students a weeklong visit to embassies, agencies and offices of elected representatives. Most recently, he organized a one-month exchange program with Ryerson University in Toronto.
Previously, Speel has received the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching, Penn State Behrend’s Guy Wilson Award for Excellence in Advising and the Behrend College Council of Fellows Excellence in Outreach Award.