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Neeli Bendapudi Officially Introduced As Penn State’s President-Elect

Although Onward State already broke the news earlier this morning, it’s finally official: University of Louisville President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi will serve as Penn State’s next president.

The university’s Board of Trustees met at the Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center Thursday morning and unanimously voted to approve her hiring. She’ll succeed Eric Barron once he retires in June and serve as the 19th president in Penn State’s history. She will also be both the first woman and person of color to hold the university’s highest office.

“It goes without saying that this is a historic moment for Penn State,” said Trustee David Kleppinger, who helped lead Penn State’s search. “In addition to her stellar credentials, Dr. Bendapudi is Penn State’s most diverse president in our long history.”

When she was formally introduced, Bendapudi said she is excited to join a university that possesses a community that is “like no other anywhere.”

“I could not be prouder or more excited to join this vibrant community of outstanding faculty, staff, students, and alumni throughout the commonwealth and beyond,” Bendapudi said. “I know this is an amazing place, and I’m so grateful.”

Bendapudi applauded Penn State’s trustees for accurately pronouncing her name. She noted that her first name, “Neeli,” actually translates to “blue,” joking that she might’ve always been destined to wear blue and white at Penn State.

Penn State’s Subcommittee on Compensation met Monday to consider the terms of Bendapudi’s contract. She will begin serving as president on or before July 1, 2022, according to Trustee Kathleen Casey.

Bendapudi’s contract will run through June 30, 2027. She’ll pull in an annual $950,000 salary, receive annual supplemental compensation contributions of $350,000, and potentially earn a $1.25 million payout if she remains in the role at the end of her current term. Additionally, Bendapudi will receive two $100,000 transition payments and is eligible to receive tenure at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business.

Bendapudi joined Louisville in 2018 after previously serving as provost and executive vice chancellor at Kansas, where she earned her Ph.D. in marketing. She returned to Lawrence in 2011 as the university’s School of Business dean and also has teaching experience at Texas A&M and Ohio State. Born in India, Bendapudi studied overseas before attending graduate school at Kansas.

Penn State’s search for the university’s next president has been long and especially quiet. The Board of Trustees formed an 18-member task force and partnered with a global search firm to identify potential candidates, all while using more than 14,000 survey responses from community members as input. Besides that, the process was largely conducted behind closed doors.

Kleppinger, who chaired the task force, said Penn State considered more than 400 individuals for the position and wound up meeting with about 80. The field was further narrowed to 11 candidates who were interviewed before Penn State selected a finalist.

We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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