Penn State Berks Chancellor Susan Phillips Speece to retire

After nearly a decade in her role as chancellor at Penn State Berks, Susan Phillips Speece has announced her retirement, effective June 30, 2011. Speece began her career at Penn State in January 2001 as dean and CEO of Penn State Berks-Lehigh Valley College. When the University reorganized the campuses in 2005, she was named chancellor of Penn State Berks.

"Susan Phillips Speece has played a major role in the growth and development of Penn State Berks," said Penn State President Graham Spanier. "Under Susan's leadership, this campus has become a destination of choice for many of our students, and it has had one of the fastest growth rates over the last decade of any Penn State campus. Susan has contributed greatly to this institution through new baccalaureate programs, student-centered initiatives, and campus improvements, and she has prepared Penn State Berks for a stronger future.”

In addition to the accomplishments noted by President Spanier during Speece’s tenure at the college, the athletics program became a full member of NCAA Division III, and the college’s enrollment has increased by 40 percent.

This spring, construction began on the long-awaited 62,000-square-foot classroom and laboratory building for the Engineering, Business and Computing Division, scheduled to be complete by the end of 2011.

“The past 10 years have flown by,” said Speece. “I think the team we have brought together is outstanding and together we have been able to move the college into the 21st century. Students affirm that by choosing to stay at Penn State Berks for their full four years more and more often.”

“I truly believe that we offer the very best of Penn State. We have the quality education, the opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research -- even as an undergraduate -- and the intimacy and personal attention of a small institution. There is, of course, still room to grow, and I look forward to hearing about all the progress the college will make in the coming years.”

Immediately prior to joining the college, Speece served as the associate dean of instruction and dean of the Division of Mathematics, Science and Engineering at Fresno City College in Fresno, Calif. Prior to that position, she served as head of the biology department at Anderson University, a private, liberal arts school in Indiana, and taught biology at Purdue University, where she had earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in chemistry and biology. She earned her doctor of education degree in education and biology from Ball State University, and completed an National Science Foundation (NSF) post-doctoral fellowship at Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis.

Speece has an extensive background as an academic administrator and is nationally recognized for her contributions to science education. Named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), her key areas of scholarship include AIDS and AIDS education, cell adhesion, proteins and ecological diversity.

The author of more than 30 publications including two books, Speece has received funding for 14 grants, including those from the NSF, the Lilly Foundation and the Commission on Higher Education.

Speece has been actively involved in many civic and community organizations, including serving as a member of the Berks AIDS Network board, the Caron Treatment Committee, Berks Economic Partnership, and the Senior Arts Council. She worked with the United Way, served and chaired the Higher Education Council of Berks County from 2004-2006, and participated in a wide variety of community functions.

In retirement, Speece said she plans to move to Colorado to watch her granddaughter grow up, and also plans to become involved in community organizations in the area where she will be residing.

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Last Updated January 10, 2015