American Immigration Council honors Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi

Neeli Bendapudi. PHOTO:

The American Immigration Council announced April 24, 2023, that it will honor Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi with its Immigrant Achievement Award on April 28, in Washington, D.C.

Bendapudi earned her bachelor’s degree in English and MBA from Andhra University in India and her doctorate in marketing from the University of Kansas.

The Award “recognizes individuals or organizations that exhibit a commitment and dedication to our heritage as a nation of immigrants and to the struggle for fair and humane immigration policies in the United States,” the press release from AIC said.

Bendapudi moved to the United States from India for her doctoral studies at the University of Kansas. She is the first woman and the first person of color to serve as Penn State’s president. In that position, she oversees the university’s modern land-grant mission of teaching, research, and public service across twenty-four campuses and the online Penn State World Campus.

“For nearly 30 years, Penn State President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi’s career in higher education has been committed to student success, fostering inclusive excellence, and creating opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to thrive,” Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the American Immigration Council is quoted saying in the press release. “She is a values-driven leader who believes strongly in the transformative power of higher education and its impact on individuals and communities,”

Robbins described Bendapudi as a trailblazer, adding, “This year we are thrilled to commemorate Dr. Bendapudi for embodying the diverse contributions generations of immigrants bring to this nation and as a testament to the enduring power of our country’s immigrant history.”

Bendapudi said she was deeply honored and humbled noting that she was “merely one of many who have come to this country in search of America’s ‘golden door’ to opportunity and prosperity.”

“As the president of one of our nation’s renowned land-grant universities, I am committed to expanding access to the transformative power of higher education for all students who are ready to learn — including those who, like me, have come to this country to seek their degrees in the hopes of building a better life for themselves and a brighter future for their families,” Bendapudi said.

“Immigration, truly, is a cornerstone of the American dream, and I am grateful to the American Immigration Council for its work to help make this dream a reality for immigrants from across the globe,” she added.

Since assuming the role as Penn State’s president, Bendapudi has focused on five major goals for the institution – enhancing student success; growing the University’s interdisciplinary research excellence; increasing Penn State’s land-grant impact; fostering diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; and transforming the University’s internal operations.

Before coming to Penn State, Bendapudi was president of the University of Louisville from 2018 to 2021. She is credited with recruiting its largest and most diverse freshman class, reaching  record enrollment levels, improving four-year graduation rates, increasing annual sponsored research, improving the university’s financial stability, and stabilizing its health system.

Her various honors include- being recognized by Diverse Issues in Higher Education as one of twenty-five women “who have made a difference in the academy” (2021); Enterprising Women recognizing her among a select group of women who “are making a difference in business and in the community” (2021), and Louisville Business First which highlighted Bendapudi among twenty-five local leaders named to the publication’s annual list of “Most Admired CEOs” for strong leadership exhibited during a year of unprecedented challenges (2020).



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