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Source: Louisville’s Neeli Bendapudi To Serve As Penn State’s Next President

Update, 12 p.m.: Dr. Neeli Bendapudi has officially been appointed Penn State’s president-elect. The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved her selection Thursday morning.

Check out this post for more on Bendapudi, her contract, and her upcoming transition to Penn State.

Original Story: University of Louisville President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi will serve as Penn State’s next president, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Her appointment requires formal approval from the university’s Board of Trustees, which will meet at 11 a.m. on Thursday.

A flight log for Penn State’s private plane adds further support to Bendapudi’s pending appointment. An 8 a.m. flight from Louisville is expected to arrive at University Park Airport around 9:30 a.m., shortly before Penn State’s full board is expected to meet.

Bendapudi, who is poised to succeed Eric Barron once he retires in June, will serve as the 19th president in Penn State’s history. She will be both the first woman and person of color to hold the university’s highest office.

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.

According to her Louisville biography, Bendapudi specializes in studying consumer behavior and services. Her research has previously appeared in academic journals, the Harvard Business Review, and mainstream news outlets like The New York Times and CNBC. Additionally, Bendapudi sits on the Board of Directors for the Lancaster Colony Corporation. She’s a former Leadership Foundation Fellow of the International Women’s Forum.

Bendapudi and her husband, Venkat, have one daughter.

During her tenure at Louisville, Bendapudi has prioritized inclusivity and openness, as noted in her four-year strategic plan. She notably took a step to promote those values when she changed the name of Louisville’s football stadium, erasing the namesake of former Louisville trustee (and Papa John’s pizza mogul) John Schnatter, who drew criticism in 2018 for using the N-word on a Papa John’s conference call.

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 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.

Penn State’s Board of Trustees is expected to formally approve Bendapudi’s appointment at a full-board meeting Thursday morning. For now, it’s unclear when she’d take over for Barron, who’s expected to retire by June 1 but hasn’t announced formal succession plans.

This is a breaking news story. It will be updated accordingly as more information 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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