About the Chancellor and Dean

About the Chancellor and Dean

Dr. Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Chancellor and Dean

Dr. Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Chancellor and Dean

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For more than thirty years, Dr. Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry has been a proud member of the Penn State Altoona family. She is a professor of biobehavioral health and women's, gender, and sexuality studies and a member of the University's graduate faculty. In 2005, Dr. Bechtel-Wherry was appointed as Penn State Altoona’s Chancellor and Dean, the first woman to hold such a position in the college’s history.

On July 1, 1997, the Penn State Altoona Campus became Penn State Altoona, a four-year baccalaureate degree-granting college of the University. As a senior member of the college’s faculty, Dr. Bechtel-Wherry played a significant role in that transition and has continued to lead the college in its ongoing success. She served as the first head of the division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences, one of the college’s four academic divisions. Later, she served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Interim CEO and Dean before taking on the role of Chancellor and Dean.

Dr. Bechtel-Wherry’s research interests involve primary prevention, specifically substance abuse prevention, curriculum development, and comprehensive school health education. She has published nearly forty articles and manuscripts in refereed journals, authored one book and several book chapters, and has secured over two million dollars in external funding to support her research. Because of her academic research and experience as a college administrator and faculty member, Dr. Bechtel-Wherry has been invited to serve as a presenter, panel member, or keynote speaker at numerous conferences.

Dr. Bechtel-Wherry’s leadership and influence extend beyond the University as an active member of the Blair County community, working with numerous charitable, non-profit, and economic development organizations. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation and the Board of Directors of Reliance Bank. She formerly served for nine years on the board of directors of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce and on the Board of Directors for the Blair County Arts Foundation, among others. She has served on various steering committees and as campaign chair for Easter Seals of Blair County, the United Way of Blair County, and Junior Achievement.

Dr. Bechtel-Wherry has received a wide array of awards for her teaching, research, leadership, and community service including the university’s 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, the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown’s President’s Medal of Distinctive Excellence Award, the Blair County Chapter of the NAACP’s Humanitarian Award, the Saint Francis University’s Saint Francis of Assisi Award, and the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Athena Award, among others.

In February of 2008, Dr. Bechtel-Wherry celebrated her marriage to Timothy Wherry through their joint gift to Penn State Altoona that served to name the Timothy L. Wherry and Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry Study in the Robert E. Eiche Library. The couple also created an endowed enhancement fund for the library that will provide monies for unrestricted purposes.

Throughout the years, Dr. Bechtel-Wherry and Tim Wherry have supported a wide variety of scholarships, capital projects, special academic initiatives, and community outreach programs at Penn State Altoona. In 2008, their legacy of giving was recognized with induction into the University’s Mount Nittany Society and the Platinum category of Penn State Altoona’s Ivyside Society.

Dr. Bechtel-Wherry resides in Martinsburg, PA, and is the mother of three children: Andrea, Adam, and Zachary Bechtel; and a stepmother of two children: William and Sarah Wherry.