R. Keith Hillkirk, who has served as chancellor of Penn State Schuylkill since 2005, will be leaving the campus to become the new chancellor at Penn State Berks, effective July 1. Hillkirk will replace Susan Phillips Speece, who is retiring effective June 30. Stephen Couch, director of Academic Affairs at Penn State Schuylkill, will serve as the interim chancellor of the campus.
"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.