Name: Mark Bestoso
Age: 62 (I will be 63 in March).
Hometown: Born and raised in Newport, RI – the 10th of 15 children.
Courses Taught: Introduction to Management (MGMT 301), International Management (MGMT 461), Freshmen Seminar (PSU 007), Introduction to Marketing (MKTG 301) and Organizational Theory (MGMT 331).
Why did you join the navy?
I joined the Navy because I was struggling in a number of ways. I had dropped out of the University of Rhode Island after being in a serious car accident in which a good friend died after only a month or so into school. Did a series of dead-end jobs for a year or two then enrolled at Stonehill University where I partied heavily and dropped out after my sophomore year. Was a bagger at a grocery store and worked at the front desk of a hotel (still partying of course) for a year or two. At this point I realized I had to get out of my hometown and away from childhood friends to break out of the rut I was in so I enlisted in the navy. Best move I ever made. I was deployed on three Mediterranean cruises on a nuclear powered cruiser with the rate of quartermaster (enlisted navigator).
What was one of the best experiences you took from it?
I visited Portugal, Gibraltar, Spain, Italy, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Sicily, Norway, England, Scotland, Puerto Rico and probably others I cannot recall. But most of all the Navy forced me to be responsible. I received an honorable discharge after serving my four year enlistment.
Isle of Capri (1978 or so – 24 years old)
How did it affect your relationship with your wife?
I met my future wife, Bonnie, three years into my Navy service. I did one more deployment after I met her and the absence actually made us closer. She wrote to me every day and I wrote whenever I had time.
What made you want to become a teacher?
I did not intend to be a teacher. After I left the Navy I re-enrolled at URI and completed my undergraduate degree in psychology in less than two years with a very high GPA for a change (it is called maturity). I worked as a yacht broker for two years in Newport after completing my degree (married by that time and had my first child – Alexa) and then decided to get my MBA. I earned my MBA at Smeal in 1985 (second child born in 1984 – Matthew)and moved to Erie (my wife’s hometown) to work in an executive training program with Metropolitan Insurance. Hated that and stayed a year before becoming a human resource manager with Kaufman’s. Hated the time away from family (another son – Jonathan by that time) so left that position after a year and a half or so. At this time we bought a bridal shop so my wife could run that (needed a break from our now four children – Rebecca last one) and I wanted a break from the world of outside work so I became one of the first “Mr. Moms” for three years. Shop did well for a while but the 1990 recession really broke our backs so we closed the shop and I started looking for work. I had taken an interest test at Gannon at some point when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and teaching came up as the best fit for me. I sent my resume to Behrend and as luck would have it a faculty member who was slated to teach a summer MGMT 471 course that was to start in a few days became sick and could not teach the class. My resume happened to be in the right place at the right time and I got a call from the desperate director of the business school (Dr. John Magenau) asking if I could meet with him to discuss my teaching the class. We hit it off and I was hired as an adjunct to teach that summer class. I had never taught before and I kind of panicked in my first class ending it abruptly fifteen minutes into the class. Fortunately I got over my jitters and was fine for the rest of the semester. I was then asked to teach more classes as an adjunct for the upcoming year and became full time the following year.
How long have you been working at Behrend?
I have been teaching here since 1990.
Whats the best experience you had teaching?
I don’t know if I have had a “best experience” while teaching. For the most part it has been a wonderful 27 years. I especially like advising students who are struggling as I have experienced what they are going through. With students who are floundering I always ask “who is paying for your education” and invariably they mention loans. I have to remind them that at some point you have to repay those loans and if you leave without a degree you will never get a return on that investment. I also am not shy about suggesting they join the military if they don’t appear willing to buckle down and study.
Why did you choose this year to retire?
I chose this year to retire because I got a VRO (a voluntary retirement offer). I will get a lump sum annual payment sometime in July with my last day as a PSU employee being June 30th. I had intended to leave at 66 in 2020 but I am now a recent grandfather with both of my grandsons living outside of Erie (one in Newport, RI and one in Philadelphia). My wife and I want to be able to visit them often and if our children want to leave them with us so they can travel, etc. I will be free to help out.
Where do you see yourself doing after you retire?
As far as work is concerned, I will play that be ear. I can always be an Uber driver. I also intend to volunteer, hopefully, at the Neighbor Art House in downtown Erie to help inner city kids with their homework, etc.
Thank you for showing us how Professors are people with stories too, not just people who lecture us for 50-75 minutes. HCXO
Image Credit: 1, Provided