UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — David Christiansen, associate vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and senior associate dean for academic programs, has been named chancellor of Penn State York, effective Aug. 1. Following a national search, Christiansen was selected to succeed David W. Chown, who will retire in August as the campus chancellor, after five years serving in the role.
Christiansen joined the University in 2004 as a professor of classics and senior associate dean for academic affairs for Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Since 2013, in his current position, he has been principally involved in academic program planning and initiatives to encourage student success, enhance teaching and learning, foster digital innovation, and promote access and affordability across the state.
“After 14 years of dedicated service to Penn State as both an educator and administrator, I am delighted that David will continue to be a valuable asset for our University as he takes on this new leadership role at Penn State York,” said Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor at Penn State. “Throughout his career in higher education, David has been a forward thinker and an advocate for students, faculty and staff. He will successfully build upon the progress David Chown has stewarded over the past five years to elevate Penn State York.”
In his current position, Christiansen has played a leadership role in the development of academic programs at Penn State’s campuses, collaborating with campus chancellors and academic officers to implement the strategic direction for Penn State’s academic portfolio across the state. As part of this work, Christiansen has overseen the addition of more than 85 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to meet emerging student interests and respond to regional employment needs.
Along with responsibilities for program planning, development and evaluation, he also co-chairs the Enhanced Education Pathway committee, which was created to enact Penn State President Eric Barron’s call for a University-wide focus on access and affordability. The committee is charged with identifying strategic opportunities and implementing new programs to increase student retention, reduce the time to graduation and lower the financial burden for students across the Commonwealth.
As part of this work, Christiansen developed and currently oversees the Pathway to Success: Summer Start (PaSSS) program, an initiative offered at 15 campuses to support low-income and first-generation students as they transition from high school to college with scholarships, mentoring and on-campus jobs. He also works closely with the offices of continuing education at the campuses to respond to regional economic development opportunities and workforce needs.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to be joining the Penn State York community,” said Christiansen. “The campus’ students, faculty and staff are exceptional, and its robust academic programs provide a high-quality education, promote economic growth and address social challenges. With regional population growth and positive economic outlook, I believe Penn State York embodies the University’s land-grant mission and will continue to play an important role in Penn State’s future.”
As senior associate dean of academic affairs at Penn State Behrend, Christiansen provided operational, managerial and strategic oversight for the campus’ academic programs and offices. He was responsible for programs with more than 250 full-time faculty members, offering 34 bachelor’s degrees, six associate degrees and two master’s degrees.
Before joining Penn State, Christiansen was the director of interdisciplinary studies at Truman State University in Missouri, where he also served as the dean of the Joseph Baldwin Academy, a summer program for middle and high schoolers to get a head start on their college careers, and taught courses in classics, Latin, Greek literature and other subjects. As a professor, he won multiple awards and edited and published scholarly works in publications such as Religious Studies Review.
At Penn State, Christiansen represents the Office of Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses on multiple University-wide planning and advisory committees, including the Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education, Digital Learning Advisory Committee, Faculty Senate Curricular Affairs Committee and Veterans’ Advisory Committee, among many others.
Christiansen earned a bachelor’s degree in history and Latin from Texas Tech University and a master’s degree and doctorate in classics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.