Robert Loeb, associate professor of biology and forestry at Penn State DuBois was awarded with the 2015 John Romano Faculty/Staff Diversity Recognition Award at an awards ceremony at University Park recently. Presented by the Multicultural Resource Center at Penn State, the Romano Award recognizes permanent faculty and staff from Penn State who have consistently promoted multiculturalism and demonstrated concern for and sensitivity to the needs of multicultural students to a level above and beyond their job responsibilities.
Loeb first joined Penn State in 1985. He began as a faculty member and administrator in the Academic Affairs Division at Penn State Altoona. After a few years of service at another institution, Loeb returned to Penn State at the DuBois campus in 1999 as the director of academic affairs. He now teaches introductory biology, ethnobotany and biogeography, including both face-to-face and online sections. His long standing research program focuses on urban forests and undergraduate students are consistently members of his research team. Other awards he has received include recognition as a senior ecologist from the Ecological Society of America, and as a Kenan Fellow of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. He was also named Educator of the Year at Penn State DuBois in 2013.
According to those who nominated Loeb for the award, he has repeatedly been involved and led diversity activities related to student concerns, faculty recruitment, and assessment and planning. In 1988, Loeb responded to a call for faculty to advise the University President concerning African-American student protests and, as a result, helped found the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CORED) and the Hispanic Caucus of CORED. He would go on to serve two more terms on CORED. Loeb also served by evaluating and developing diversity plans; the climate survey process that he led became the model adopted by the 17 campuses of the Commonwealth College. Loeb’s involvement in promoting multiculturalism has been in a variety of modes, including presentations, articles, committee involvement, and applying for and receiving funding to implement three new programs: the Freshman Transition Program, the Minority Scholars Development Fund and the College Assistance Migrant Program. After returning to a faculty role in 2007, Loeb developed an online course for Biology 120A to meet the United States and International Diversity requirements.