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Leo Takahashi

Penn State Beaver just wouldn’t be Penn State Beaver without Leo Takahashi’s physics class.

“My biggest accomplishment thus far in my life was passing Professor Takahashi’s class,” said Jim Hendrickson, a fellow faculty member and campus alumnus.

When Takahashi, assistant professor of physics, started teaching at the campus in 1967, Beaver only had one building for classes and administration.

“We’ve certainly gotten much bigger since I started. We offer more for students,” he said.

Over the years, Takahashi has taught classes in math and science technology in addition to physics, although that’s what he is most well-known for on campus.

He’s also taught multiple generations of the same family. Parents get excited when they learn that their children can take physics from the same professor they had.

He made the decision to teach while he was in college.

“I never had a good physics professor, so I figured there was a need,” Takahashi said.

“He will be the first to say he is still learning to be a teacher after 40 years, and that’s a nice thing to hear,” said Dr. Donna Kuga, interim chancellor and former director of academic affairs, who is also a former student of Takahashi.

In addition to always learning, he still loves his job.

“When you have a career you love and it’s fun, then why retire?” he said. “I see them carrying me out of here in a box.”

“The job is never the same two semesters in a row because the students are never the same,” he said. “The students always keep changing, so as a teacher you have to adapt along with them and try to find the common ground that some like. The challenge is one of the reasons I keep coming back. I love what I’m doing.”

He encourages students to start at Beaver because “students have the opportunity to get to know their professors here.”


Master of Arts in Physics
Southern Illinois University

Bachelor of Arts in Physics
William Jewell College

- Teaching science
- Physics education