Headshot photo of Kelly Austin outside Old Main

Austin named vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor

Kelly Austin has been named Penn State's vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor, effective Jan. 17, 2022.

January 17, 2022

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Kelly Austin has been named Penn State’s permanent vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor, following a national search. Austin’s appointment, which has been approved by the University’s Board of Trustees, is effective Jan. 17. Austin has been serving in this role in an interim capacity since August 2021, following Madlyn Hanes’ retirement from Penn State last summer.

As vice president and executive chancellor, Austin will provide administrative leadership for Penn State’s 20 Commonwealth Campuses, which enroll approximately 25,000 students in associate, bachelor’s and graduate degree programs, in addition to the 5,000 students enrolled in World Campus academic programs delivered by the Commonwealth Campuses.

The Commonwealth Campuses include Penn State Abington, Altoona, Beaver, Behrend, Berks, Brandywine, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, Great Valley, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Schuylkill, Scranton, Shenango, Wilkes-Barre and York. The campus chancellors will report directly to Austin, and he will serve as the budget executive for the Commonwealth Campuses.

“I am thrilled that Kelly will be leading our Commonwealth Campuses into the future, as he possesses the collaborative spirit, communication skills, sound judgment, passion and energy to help our campuses grow and flourish,” said Nick Jones, Penn State executive vice president and provost. “Kelly knows firsthand the valuable role that our campuses play as centers of culture, education and employment, and he brings the perfect blend of practical experience and fresh perspective to build on the exciting work already happening at our campuses.”

Commonwealth Campuses enroll approximately 40% of Penn State’s total residential student body and, as examples of the significant role they play in Penn State’s land-grant mission, more than 80% of Commonwealth Campus students are Pennsylvania residents and nearly 40% are the first in their family to attend college. More than 50% of students begin their Penn State experience at a Commonwealth Campus, and while many students remain at one campus for all four years, students can complete the first two years of more than 275 majors at a Commonwealth Campus through the University’s 2+2 Plan before transitioning to University Park or another campus to complete their degree.

“The Commonwealth Campuses are integral to Penn State’s mission and our decades-long model of providing access to a world-class education in communities across Pennsylvania,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “With 96% of Pennsylvanians living within 30 miles of a Penn State campus, our Commonwealth Campus structure is truly unique in higher education. With his experience as both a campus chancellor and a senior administrator, Kelly is the perfect person to lead our campuses forward and position them to continue to meet the needs of the students and communities they serve.”

Among his responsibilities, Austin will continue to oversee the Commonwealth Campuses’ academic and administrative programs and operations, including strategic and facilities planning; program and curriculum development; student and faculty recruitment and retention; and the integration of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. In addition, Austin will work in partnership with the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research to advance Invent Penn State, including the Commonwealth Campuses’ 20 innovation hubs, which are helping to drive entrepreneurship, economic development and job creation in communities across the state.

“It is a great honor to serve the Commonwealth Campuses,” Austin said. “Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses are at the very core of fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission and exist to support Penn State’s long-standing commitment to making higher education accessible and affordable. The Commonwealth Campuses have a significant impact on the communities in which they are situated. They drive economic activity throughout the state, they promote and inspire innovation, and they serve as important access points to students.” 

Before being named interim vice president, Austin served as associate vice president for administration within the Office of the Senior Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses, where he provided leadership and supervision for strategic planning and implementation, budget planning and resource allocations, human resources, marketing, campus athletics, and information technology. Austin also assisted the senior vice president with the day-to-day administration of the 20 Commonwealth Campuses, including policy integration, talent management, strategic planning and funding requests.

Austin joined the Office of the Senior Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses in 2017. Previously, he served as chancellor of Penn State Schuylkill from 2012 to 2017. Before leading Penn State Schuylkill, Austin was vice president of finance and administration at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown from 2008 to 2012. While at Pitt-Johnstown, he served as vice president of student affairs and director of the student union and student activities. Austin also served in multiple roles working directly with students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, prior to joining Pitt-Johnstown. 

Austin earned a doctorate in social and comparative analysis in education from the University of Pittsburgh, an MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and a master’s degree in student personnel administration and a bachelor of science degree in business administration/business management, both from Slippery Rock University.