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Penn State Fayette’s new chancellor aims to lift campus to new heights

11/4/2010 —

Dr. Francis AchampongDr. Francis Achampong, the newly appointed permanent chancellor of Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, welcomes the opportunity to take Penn State Fayette into a “vibrant future that takes the campus to new heights and a future of possibilities.” Nov. 1 marked the official start of Achampong’s new tenure at the campus.

Achampong’s appointment followed a six-month search for a new chancellor for the campus. In March, Achampong, who was serving as director of academic affairs at Penn State Mont Alto, was named to oversee campus operations on an interim basis following the unexpected death of former Chancellor Emmanuel I. Osagie.

As Achampong points out, many visionary leaders and philanthropists in the past “envisioned more than the eye can see” for the campus, which has now grown to be Fayette County’s only 4-year institution of higher education. He explains, “The campus has the excellent faculty, staff and resources needed to bring high-quality education to southwestern Pennsylvania. I will be working with the campus and local community to move the campus up to the next level.”

How to do that? Achampong says by focusing on Penn State Fayette’s Vision Statement: “Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus will be recognized as the region’s finest student-centered university, focusing on academic excellence, and the social, cultural, and economic development of the community.”

Some of Achampong’s ideas include assisting faculty by providing support and services so they can work with students and engage them in research and the process of discovery, and by focusing on student success with additional student learning support. “We need to work proactively to change the perception that only weak students utilize learning support services. Let’s create an academic culture in which all students seek out resources so they get stronger and better, improving graduation and retention rates in the process,” he says.

Penn State University and the Fayette campus offer students and the local community benefits they cannot find elsewhere, Achampong believes. “Penn State Fayette is a vital and integral member of the southwestern Pennsylvania community because of what we can offer. The expertise of Penn State faculty is world class. Fayette students have an opportunity to connect with the resources of a top-notch university, yet experience the one-on-one benefits of a small campus. And Penn State Fayette grads can be confident their degree is in demand by recruiters of top corporations, that they have the potential to earn more over their careers, and that the worldwide network of Penn State alumni is a resource for a lifetime.”

Achampong indicates other strategic areas of interest will get focused attention as well, including possible changes to the campus’ academic offerings. He says it is important for the campus to study market demand for programs so Fayette can meet the needs of the region in a highly competitive marketplace.

The ability to offer residential housing, either by the University or in partnership with third-party providers, will be a key strategy to attract more out-of-state and international students, which will increase diversity and enrich the campus as a whole, he adds.

Outreach and Continuing Education, also, are vital services. Achampong explains, “Outreach that contributes to the socio-economic and cultural development of our community is a crucial part of our mission and our vision.” He emphasizes that credit and non-credit programs contribute to the readiness of the workforce, so he will focus on better collaboration to design programs—on and off campus—for the communities the campus serves.

Achampong says, “I strongly believe that Penn State Fayette  ought to be the very first institution of higher education that comes to mind in our community when [anyone] needs us for solutions to social problems or when [anyone is] looking for ideas of catalysts for economic development.”

The campus will always need to be at its best, Achampong says, to achieve these goals, and the campus will need to hone its skills to remain on the cutting edge. In addition, “We have to tell our story and tell it well,” he says. But Achampong is confident the campus community, as a whole, wants Fayette to rise to the next level. “Together, we will use our vision, mission and strategic plan to capture the opportunities of the future.”

Achampong has been a part of Penn State for over 8 years. He led the Mont Alto campus in adopting a vision and core values statement; introduced new degree programs, mentored faculty; and provided fiscal leadership in times of budgetary constraints.  

An expert in sexual harassment, workplace harassment and risk management, Achampong holds a Ph.D. in law from the University of London; a master of laws degree from both Georgetown University Law Center and the University of London, Kings College, where his primary area of study was insurance law, credit and security; and a bachelor of laws degree magna cum laude from the University of Ghana. He is a member of the Virginia Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association and was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990.

Before his appointment at Mont Alto, Achampong served in a variety of positions at Norfolk State University, including as interim dean of the AACSB-accredited School of Business at Norfolk State; as head of the Department of Entrepreneurship, Finance and Marketing; and also as a professor of business law and insurance.

Achampong was a Fellow of the American Council on Education from 2008-2009 and holds a Certificate in Management and Leadership Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is the author of several publications, including a book, Workplace Sexual Harassment Law: Principles, Landmark Developments, and Framework for Effective Risk Management, published in 1999. His latest work, "Integrating Risk Management and Strategic Planning" was published in Winter 2010 in Planning for Higher Education.

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