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Karen Barr

Karen Barr, Penn State Beaver senior instructor in business, didn’t always know what she wanted to do as a career.

She worked for a few years as a nurse before returning to school to receive her master’s degree in corporate finance.

While raising her two children, Barr took a part-time nursing job at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and began teaching business part time.

About 10 years ago, she started teaching full time at Beaver.

“I love my job. You get to hang out with smart kids, students who are curious,” she said. “I love coming into work to see the kids, to teach.”

She describes herself as a real people person and truly feels comfortable when she stands in front of a group of students.

“My personality was made for being on the stage,” she said.

Her favorite class is the corporate finance class she teaches in the spring semester on campus and every semester through the Penn State World Campus. She also enjoys teaching business law.

“There is something about the law class,” Barr said. “You can have an opinion.”

Her student reviews are always filled with compliments about her teaching style. “According to the students, I rock, I’m awesome, I should run for president,” she said with a wide smile.

However, she was shocked when she won the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board Excellence in Teaching Award in 2004 and the campus' Outstanding Academic Advisor Award the following year.

Her positive attitude extends to her opinions about the campus. “Even if you don’t talk, professors here know you exist. You really get to know your professors if you want to,” Barr said. “We make sure our students have the skills businesses require today. I try to bring a lot of technology, but I also focus on personality skills.”

Editor's Note: In 2012 Ms. Barr received Penn State’s George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching. She was one of only six University-wide faculty members to receive the award that year.


Master of Business Administration, Corporate Finance
California State University, Long Beach 

Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Ohio State University