Indian-American Neeli Bendapudi makes history as new President of Penn State

NeeliBendapudi, the new President of Penn State University. Photo:

Neeli Bendapudi, currently president and professor of marketing at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, has been unanimously named Pennsylvania State University’s next president by the Penn State Board of Trustees Dec. 9, 2021.

When she begins her appointment as Penn State’s 19th president in spring 2022, she will make history as the first woman,  first Indian-American, and first person of color to serve as the University’s president. She will succeed President Eric J. Barron, who will retire after serving Penn State for more than 30 years.

Bendapudi, currently the 18th president of the University of Louisville, is a recognized leader in higher education who specializes in marketing and consumer behavior, said a press release from Penn State.

She has a nearly 30-year career in academia, and has served in a variety of administrative roles over the years, including as provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas, dean of the School of Business at the University of Kansas, and founding director of the Initiative for Managing Services at Ohio State University.

Bendapudi’s focus has been on ‘collaboration and development’, and she has dedicated her career to student success, fostering inclusivity, and creating opportunities for students, faculty and staff to thrive, Penn State said.

“Penn State is a world-class university, and I couldn’t be prouder and more excited to join this vibrant community of outstanding students, faculty, staff and alumni throughout the commonwealth and beyond,” Bendapudi is quoted saying in the press release. “Thank you to the Penn State community and Board of Trustees. I am grateful for this opportunity and will make it my mission to help Penn State reach new heights across each of our campuses.”

The Indian-American educator was selected after a comprehensive national search, and her appointment was announced during a Dec. 9 special meeting of the Board of Trustees following an extensive vetting process and overwhelming support from the Presidential Recruitment and Selection Committee, an 18-member group with student, faculty, staff and trustee representatives.

“We are proud to welcome Dr. Bendapudi to Penn State. She is a dynamic and innovative leader who has dedicated nearly her entire professional life to higher education and is prepared to help our University advance in the ways we support students, create new knowledge and serve society,” said Matt Schuyler, chair of the Board of Trustees.



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