Russell Reynolds Associates Called in by Penn State to Find Provost

January 12, 2023 – Penn State is launching a national search for its next executive vice president and provost. The school has called in Russell Reynolds Associates to recruit this next leader. As the chief academic officer reporting directly to the president, the provost works with deans, chancellors, faculty, and staff across the university and helps set and lead academic priorities, uphold research and teaching excellence, support access and affordability, and advance the land-grant mission.

“Penn State is a highly respected institution with a global reputation that has consistently drawn talented individuals with incredible academic, leadership and research experiences,” said Neeli Bendapudi, president of Penn State. “We are fully expecting to attract a strong and competitive field of potential candidates. The provost is a critical position to fill, and our search committee intends to identify the right individual who shares Penn State’s values and vision, is wholly supportive of our land-grant mission, and truly wants to help faculty, staff and students find success during their time with our university.”

The search for the provost role will be led by a search committee comprised of faculty, staff and students from across the campuses, which will be co-chaired by Michael Wade Smith, Penn State’s senior vice president and chief of staff, and Michele Stine, chair of the university faculty senate and teaching professor of biobehavioral health in the College of Health and Human Development.

The search started this month with the goal of identifying the top candidate as quickly as possible. Penn State’s executive vice president and provost oversees the university’s academic units — including colleges at University Park and campuses — and major academic support units such as University Libraries, Penn State IT, and the offices of Educational Equity and Affirmative Action, among others. The provost serves on the president’s council, chairs Penn State’s Council of Academic Deans and the Academic Leadership Council, and serves as an ex officio member of the University Faculty Senate and Senate Council.


Navigating the Insular World of Academic Recruiting
Passionate about higher education, recruiters for the academic sector face a range of challenges than those in other areas are unlikely to see, says Shawn M. Hartman, of Washington, D.C.-based Academic Search. Widespread input from across an institution’s community, lengthier searches and state sunshine laws are just some of the issues that executive recruiters working for institutions of higher learning must deftly navigate.


Pennsylvania State University is a public state-related land-grant research university with campuses and facilities throughout Pennsylvania. Founded in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania, Penn State became the state’s only land-grant university in 1863. Today, Penn State is a major research university which conducts teaching, research and public service. Its instructional mission includes undergraduate, graduate, professional, and continuing education offered through resident instruction and online delivery.

Experienced Recruiters

Russell Reynolds Associates is a global leadership advisory and search firm. Its 520-plus consultants in 47 offices work with public, private, and non-profit organizations across all industries and regions. The firm also conducts in-depth organizational culture assessment and measures the cultural fit of key leadership and candidates in the following areas: arts and culture, global development, higher education, non-profit health and human services, public sector, social justice and advocacy, as well as trade and professional associations.

Russell Reynolds provides executive search services across all areas of the global media, entertainment, technology, and athletics markets. The firm’s consultants bring the experience and ability to assess competencies and cultural fit of board members, CEOs, senior functional leadership, and players, with expertise in professional sports teams and leagues (CEOs, general managers, coaches, and players); digital, media, and entertainment; and technology-based start-ups.

Related: Why Universities Have Stepped Up Efforts to Involve Search Firms

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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