The 2022 Higher Education 100: Penn State Chancellors
Chancellors shape Penn State’s academic colleges at specialized campuses, often far from University Park. As leaders and chief operating officers of these institutions, each of Penn State’s chancellors brings a unique perspective to their roles at each institution.
At Penn State Behrend, Ralph Ford serves as chancellor and dean and brings with him more than 25 years of experience in higher education. A professor of electrical and computer engineering, he oversees the campus’s signature open-laboratory model, which pairs students and faculty with external stakeholders to promote community development.
At the Altoona campus, Chancellor and Dean Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry will retire this year after nearly 40 years at the college, during which time she expanded the school’s downtown complex and spurred the creation of 10 undergraduate programs. Bechtel-Wherry helped secure the acquisition of several academic buildings in downtown Altoona that resulted in campus expansion. During her tenure, she also helped pave the way for a bike trail that connected the Ivyside and Downtown campuses.
John R. Mason Jr., a 1972 Penn State Harrisburg alumnus who later returned to teach engineering, came back again in 2018 to lead that campus as chancellor. During his tenure, the campus has launched new degree programs; this year, PSH researchers secured a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to recruit and retain math teachers. Prior to joining PSH, Mason served as vice president for research and economic development at Auburn University in Alabama.
George Grant Jr. has become known as the highly accessible chancellor of Penn State Berks, where he took over last year, bringing his social justice vision to inaugural events like this spring’s first Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Retreat. Grant is responsible for implementing all aspects of academic programs at the Berks campus, including research and service, strategic planning, budgeting, philanthropy, faculty and staff development outreach and community engagement.
Those same issues are also a priority for Penn State Abington’s new chancellor and dean, Margo DelliCarpini, who took office last year, overseeing a busy campus with 23 majors and an MBA partnership with Penn State Great Valley. Penn State Abington is one of the network’s most diverse campuses; DelliCarpini oversees more than 3,700 students just outside of Philadelphia – with 50% of students identifying as being from underrepresented groups, more than 40% as first-generation college students and 25% as adult learners.
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