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Mason picked to lead Penn State Harrisburg; Auburn vice president is a 1972 graduate of the school

By Jason Maddux

jasonmaddux@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 3/20/18

Dr. John Mason, vice president for research and economic development at Auburn University, has been selected as the new chancellor for Penn State Harrisburg, replacing Mukund S. Kulkarni, who plans …

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Mason picked to lead Penn State Harrisburg; Auburn vice president is a 1972 graduate of the school

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Dr. John Mason, vice president for research and economic development at Auburn University, has been selected as the new chancellor for Penn State Harrisburg, replacing Mukund S. Kulkarni, who plans to retire on June 30.

Mason 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.

He will begin his new role Aug. 1.

“Having first earned my bachelor’s degree at Penn State Harrisburg, I have a great passion and affinity for this wonderful campus,” Mason said in a press release. “Now, to be coming back as the chancellor of the campus I began at, is very rewarding and I couldn’t be more humbled and thankful for this opportunity.”

The other two finalists were Dr. William Behre, provost and chief academic officer at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, New Jersey; and Dr. Kumara Jayasuriya, provost and vice president for academic affairs at West Virginia State University in Institute, West Virginia.

“This special relationship I have with this community is exciting,” he told the Press & Journal. “[Returning] is something I’m looking forward to.”

There is a great deal to do in the next several months, he said, but he wants to start forums with students, faculty, staff and community members as early as possible to get input from various groups.

“The first step is trying to engage, both on campus and off campus,” he said.

There’s also a period of time where PSU officials will have to build consensus around goals, agree what the priorities are and take some action.

“There’s such a solid foundation right now,” he said.

Any significant changes take about one academic year, he said, and sometimes quick isn’t the best answer; patience is better.

“There appears to be a lot of energy and excitement to do innovative things,” he said, but you have to have the faculty and staff to support it, he added, to “deliver on those ideas.”

Since graduating from Penn State, he has had a varied career that has taken him to Texas A&M for his doctorate degree in civil engineering, 20 years in a variety of jobs at Penn State’s main campus in University Park, and nearly 10 years at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.

As vice president at Auburn, he serves on the president’s cabinet and provides leadership for strategic planning for the university’s research enterprise and economic development initiatives, according to the university’s website.

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.

He worked at the University Park campus from 1987 to 2008, the last 11 as the associate dean of the College of Engineering. He was also the director of the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, Penn State’s transportation research center, from 2005 to 2008 and a professor of civil engineering, among other roles.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in transportation from Penn State University, a master’s of science degree in transportation engineering from Villanova University, and a doctorate in civil engineering from Texas A&M University. He is a registered professional engineer licensed in Pennsylvania.

He is 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.”

“Dr. Kulkarni will be leaving an extraordinary legacy at Penn State Harrisburg and the University for his many years of distinguished service, and we are grateful to him. It is a great pleasure to welcome Dr. Mason back to the Penn State family,” Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor at Penn State, said in a press release. “I previously had the privilege to serve as the chancellor of Penn State Harrisburg, a vibrant campus of accomplished scholars, dedicated staff, and talented students. Dr. Mason brings with him a wealth of leadership experience and expertise to advance the college’s long-standing commitment to educational excellence, innovative research, and community outreach.”

Hanes was Penn State Harrisburg chancellor from 2000 to 2010.

Kulkarni has worked at Penn State Harrisburg for more than 30 years at Penn State, including the last eight in his current position.

Penn State Harrisburg has more than 5,000 students and offers more than 65 associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs.