Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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New Report Summarizes Penn State Community’s Feedback on Next University President

A new report published by a Penn State task force provided some notable insight surrounding the university’s search for its next president.

The Next Gen Penn State Advisory Group, which formed in April to lead the search for Penn State’s next president following Eric Barron’s planned retirement, spent the better part of the last two months organizing a “listening process” to collect community feedback.

The group received survey responses from more than 14,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and other community members. It also conducted 36 listening sessions with 276 individuals from a variety of university groups.

Overall, the report summarizes priorities, experiences, and characteristics that Penn State’s next president should have. For example, community members said they valued prioritizing affordability, advancing diversity and equity, and supporting research initiatives.

They also said Penn State’s next president should be transparent, build trust, show empathy and humility, and boast “empowering leadership.”

“Our goal was to secure insights from a broad representation of our community that could help advise us of the needs for a successful leader,” said David Kleppinger, vice chair of the Penn State Board of Trustees and chair of the Next Gen Penn State Advisory Group. “We are so pleased that we gained responses from a wide array of Penn Staters through this process. The qualitative and quantitative insights and counsel from advisory group members will be an instrumental part of a successful search for Penn State’s 19th president.”

A full summary of the report’s findings is available online through the university. Results were reported to the Presidential Recruitment and Selection Committee on June 1 and the Board of Trustees on June 7.

Moving forward, Presidential Recruitment and Selection Committee chairs Mark Dambly and Julie Anna Potts said they’ll work to finalize a position profile for Penn State’s next president that will outline qualifications and attributes for candidates.

“We are thrilled with the insights gleaned from this process,” Potts said in a statement. “Although the official duties of the Next Gen Penn State Advisory Group are complete, we invite their continued participation to review and provide input on the position statement and provide insights for the Presidential Recruitment and Selection Committee on the types of questions the committee should focus on through its screening and interview process.”

Later in June, a new Board of Trustees webpage will summarize the position profile, contact information to submit candidate nominations and timeline for the search and hiring process. Through the Next Gen Penn State process, the university received 1,821 candidate nominations.