College holds reception to introduce new chancellor to community
Dr. Hillkirk, who previously served as Chancellor of Penn State Schuylkill since 2005, officially assumed the role of Chancellor of Penn State Berks on July 1, 2011. He replaced Dr. Susan Phillips Speece, who retired effective June 30.
"Over the past five and a half years, my colleagues and I have worked to further the University's mission of recruiting, retaining and graduating a diverse student body at Penn State Schuylkill. Four years ago, our enrollment grew by approximately 15 percent, and we have sustained those enrollment gains through a number of ongoing initiatives. Penn State Berks is roughly twice the size of Schuylkill, and I'm looking forward to the challenges and opportunities the breadth of the campus' program and degree offerings brings to the chancellor's position," said Hillkirk.
"Dr. Hillkirk has been an effective leader, well received by the campus and broader community. He is a good steward of our access mission and commitment to quality, and a champion of innovative approaches to programming that extends educational opportunities to students. Our Schuylkill campus has benefited in very positive ways from his leadership. He will, I am most confident, make continuing significant contributions in his new assignment as chancellor of our Berks college, building on its standing as a leading higher education provider and importance as a vital regional resource," said Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses.
Beyond the focus on enrollment growth as a top priority at Schuylkill, Hillkirk oversaw a significant expansion of campus acreage which increased the size of the campus by one third to 100 acres, as well as several building projects including the construction of a new residence hall, which was completed in August 2010 and will be LEED certified. Under his leadership, the campus also secured a grant which along with a campus match enabled the installation of a solar panel that helps to power one of the campus' five residence halls. Currently, the campus is in the planning phase of a renovation and improvement of its biology research and teaching labs, which is being funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, coupled with a $250,000 private gift and other University funding.
Before becoming chancellor at Penn State Schuylkill, Hillkirk served for seven years as dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and nine years as a faculty member, director of partnerships, and assistant dean for teacher education in the College of Education at Ohio University. Before that, Hillkirk, a Pennsylvania native, served as an assistant professor of education at Penn State's University Park campus, and was a graduate assistant in Penn State's College of Education while earning his doctorate in curriculum and instruction.
Hillkirk holds a bachelor's degree in English from Allegheny College and a master of education in English from Shippensburg University. His scholarly interests include models of professional development and the creation and maintenance of partnerships among universities, schools and communities.
With an enrollment of nearly 2,900 students, Penn State Berks offers fifteen baccalaureate degree programs, eight associate degree programs, and a wide variety of Continuing Education courses. Students can also take the first two years of 160 bachelor degree programs that can be completed at other Penn State campuses. The college provides a rich student life, with 800 students living in residence halls, a variety of clubs and organizations, cultural events, lectures, and other activities. In addition, the college is a full member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III.