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Mason has the background to be a great chancellor at Penn State: Editorial

Posted 3/27/18

We don’t know for sure what kind of chancellor John Mason will be when he takes over at Penn State Harrisburg in August.

But we are excited by what he brings to the table, on many …

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Mason has the background to be a great chancellor at Penn State: Editorial

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We don’t know for sure what kind of chancellor John Mason will be when he takes over at Penn State Harrisburg in August.

But we are excited by what he brings to the table, on many levels.

Among the three finalists to replace Mukund S. Kulkarni, who plans to retire on June 30, Mason had one giant item on his resume that stood out.

He graduated from Penn State Harrisburg. He received his bachelor’s degree in transportation technology from Penn State Harrisburg in 1972, one of the first years there was a graduating class from the college that then was known as the Capital Campus.

While that seems like a long time ago, he is currently working on the Capital Campaign fundraiser for Penn State Harrisburg. From 1988 to 1990, he was on the board of directors of the Alumni Society for Penn State Harrisburg and chairman of the bylaws committee.

In 2012, he received the Penn State Harrisburg Alumni Achievement Award, from the School of Science, Engineering and Technology, for “leadership in the profession and significant contributions to the betterment of society.”

He often talks about the “great passion” and “affinity” he has for the campus, and he told the Press & Journal in February that he has had his eye on the chancellor job.

“When I heard of the opportunity, I said, ‘Boy that’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.’ Sometimes you have to wait for certain things to line up as an opportunity,” he said.

But just being a graduate and wanting the job isn’t enough. Mason, however, seems to have the background to excel.

He is leaving his job as vice president for research and economic development at Auburn University, where he is responsible for economic and research program development, public and private externally sponsored programs, technology transfer, commercialization efforts, the Auburn University Cyber-Initiative, and the Auburn University Huntsville Research Center. His duties include budget planning and allocations, personnel, compliance, economic development relations, and research related legislative (federal and state) initiatives.

That’s quite a list.

His Auburn job required him to do a lot of outreach, including with the local mayor and developers.

“I think that’s very important, that the university shouldn’t be separate from the local community. They should be an integrated whole,” he told the Press & Journal when he was one of the finalists.

That’s music to our ears, as the Middletown area continues to struggle with the town-and-gown relationship with Penn State Harrisburg.

He also understands how things work at University Park, where he worked from 1987 to 2008.

“It was good to have an understanding of the people and the mind-set at University Park and being familiar with the way the system works and the organizational chart,” he said.

“When someone said, ‘What’s going on there in Harrisburg?’ I could stand up and say, ‘I know exactly what’s going on in Harrisburg. Let me tell you about it.’ I was more of an advocate also. There was a definite allegiance to the place,” he said.

You can see why we are hopeful for a wonderful term as chancellor for John Mason. He says the right things, and he has the perfect background to do the job.

For now, Mason said, he wants to start forums with students, faculty, staff and community members as early as possible to get input from various groups, to engage on and off campus.

Then he wants to build consensus around goals and accomplish them.

We wish him all the best, because if his tenure at Penn State Harrisburg is a success, it will benefit the entire region.