Dr. Lori Bechtel-Wherry has been chosen to receive the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s President’s Medal of Distinctive Excellence, the highest award bestowed by Pitt-Johnstown. She will be presented with her medal at the school’s annual Academic Honors Convocation ceremony on Sunday, March 24 where she will also serve as the keynote speaker. The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. in the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center.
The Medal of Distinctive Excellence recognizes exceptional persons for their exemplary contributions toward making our world a better place. Specifically, honorees are chosen on a wide range of criteria including their social, cultural and humanitarian contributions, leadership in their professions, as well as service to the community of humankind. Individuals receiving the prestigious honor make a positive difference in our world, inspire and empower others to achieve their fullest potential, and contribute to human progress and enlightenment.
Dr. Bechtel-Wherry became the Chancellor of Penn State Altoona in 2005 and holds the distinction of being the first woman to hold that position in the college’s history. In a career that spans more than 25 years at Penn State Altoona, Dr. Bechtel-Wherry was the first head of the division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences and served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
She earned her undergraduate degree from Lock Haven State College, her master’s in health education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and her PhD in health education from Penn State. Her research interests focus on substance abuse prevention, curriculum development, and comprehensive school health education. She has published nearly 40 articles and manuscripts in refereed journals, authored one book several book chapters, and has secured more than $2 million in external funding to support her research efforts.
Dr. Bechtel-Wherry is an active member of the Blair County community, offering her time and leadership to several charitable, non-profit, and economic development organizations. She holds board appointments with organizations including the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation, Blair County Arts Foundation, and the Blair County Chamber of Commerce. She has served as campaign chair for Easter Seals of Blair County, the United Way of Blair County, and Junior Achievement.
Among Dr. Bechtel-Wherry’s awards are the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching, the College of Health and Human Development’s Dorothy Jones Barnes Teaching Award and Faculty Achievement Award, Penn State’s Commission for Women Achieving Woman Award in two categories - faculty and administration, Lock Haven University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania School Health Association, the Volunteer of the Year Award from the American Cancer Society, the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Athena Award, and the YWCA Achieving Woman Award.
Photo: Penn State Altoona
Founded in 1927, Pitt-Johnstown is located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The University offers a high-quality educational experience in a supportive living-learning environment designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization." Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the past three years.