PENNSYLVANIA – India-born Neeli Bendapudi crashed the glass ceiling hard last week as she took over the charge of president at Penn State University. She becomes the first woman, and the first person of colour (POC) to hold the post. In 2018, she became the first woman and first POC to become the president of University of Louisville. 

Bendapudi’s appointment was announced by the board of PSU, which unanimously elected her to the post. She would take over the reins after the current president Eric Barron retires in June 2022. The 58-year-old academician has several other feathers on her well decorated hat already. Her researches on consumer behaviour have earned appreciation from all quarters. 

While addressing the board after the vote, Neeli said, “Being president of this institution is a sacred trust, and it’s truly the honor of a lifetime. I am in awe of Penn State’s ‘we are’ spirit and of the transformative power of a Penn State education. I do recognise the appointment’s symbolic value. But to me, what I truly hope it does is that it inspires others to pursue the highest office in their chosen field, no matter who they are.” She also acknowledged the challenge of taking the education landscape to a higher altitude. 

Talking about choosing her over 10 other candidates wine for the job, trustee David M. Kleppinger said that she was a values-driven leader who will help realize the very best of the institution. He also called her dynamic, accessible and a savvy business and financial manager.

Bendapudi is known for taking over the job at University of Louisville amid a scandal involving her predecessor. Her presidency there was also mired with a series of controversies. However, she received largely positive reviews for the way she led the institution. 

Earlier in her career, she was the provost, executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas as well as the dean of KSU’s business school. She has held teaching positions at Ohio State University and Texas A&M University too. She came to the US from her native India in 1986 to pursue higher education after completing an MBA from Andhra university in India.