UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A Penn State finance professor who teaches online has been honored with an outstanding teaching award from the Mid-Atlantic Region of UPCEA, a leading association for professional, continuing, and online education.

A headshot of Eric Robbins

Eric Robbins, an assistant teaching professor of finance at Penn State Behrend, is the recipient of the 2020 UPCEA Mid-Atlantic Region Excellence in Teaching Award. 

Robbins teaches at the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend and in Penn State’s online undergraduate finance program, which is offered through Penn State World Campus.

Robbins is being recognized during the virtual UPCEA Mid-Atlantic Region Conference on October 5–7. He will be eligible for national UPCEA teaching award, the recipient of which will be named in the spring of 2021.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award because one of my passions in life is teaching,” Robbins said. “In the Finance Department at Penn State Behrend, we make every attempt to engage with our students at our campus and online through clubs, speakers, and special events, such as trips to New York City and Chicago, which I have led. These have been very rewarding experiences for my students.”

Robbins has been teaching at Penn State since 2013. He teaches courses on investments and retirement planning both at Behrend and at Penn State World Campus. 

An exterior view of the Burke building at the Penn State Behrend Campus is shown.
Eric Robbins works from the Burke Research and Economic Development Center at Penn State Behrend.
Penn State

In letters to the awards committee, nominators praised Robbins’ commitment to adult education, outstanding teaching skills, and innovative ideas. 

The nominators said Robbins was instrumental in converting the two finance classes he teaches into online and hybrid formats.

Robbins is the faculty adviser of the business analytics club, which hosts monthly meetings and a series of speakers from the business industry. He is also an important contributor to a group of 600 finance students, from both Behrend and Penn State World Campus, who connect in Canvas, the University’s learning management system.

Eric Robbins, with Penn State students on a trip to the TD Ameritrade Conference in Chicago in 2018
Eric Robbins, with Penn State students on a trip to the TD Ameritrade Conference in Chicago in 2018
Eric Robbins

For the past several years, he has led educational trips for finance students to learn more about the industry. He has organized trips for students that include the CFA Institute Research Challenge in New York, the TD Ameritrade Conference in Chicago, and more.

Robbins also has led the annual Finance Day celebration at the Behrend campus. 

Jessica Zhao, a professor of finance at Behrend, commended Robbins in a letter recommending him for the award. 

“His continued excellence in teaching both residential and online courses make him an excellent mentor for others,” Zhao said. “He has demonstrated a long-standing and exemplary commitment to the finance program, World Campus finance program, and Behrend College through his great efforts and outreach activities.”

Karen Pollack, associate vice provost for online programs at Penn State World Campus, said Robbins proactively connects students with the resources available through the online campus.

“He is always flexible with helping students find space in courses to make progress toward graduation and listening to their questions and concerns,” Pollack said. “Penn State World Campus is grateful for Professor Robbins’ leadership and commitment to students and adult education.”