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Karen Barr meets with a group of students.

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. A few years later she started teaching full time at Penn State Beaver.

“I love my job. You get to hang out with smart kids, students that 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 during the spring semester and every semester through Penn State’s World Campus. She also enjoyed 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.

Her students aren't the only ones who think so. in 2012 Barr won Penn State’s George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching. She was one of only six faculty members across the university to win the award that year. She’s also won several campus awards for excellence in teaching and advising.

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.”


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

Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Ohio State University