Birx named to lead Erie campus

University Park, Pa. – Donald L. Birx has been chosen as the next chancellor of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Birx will replace John D. "Jack" Burke, who is retiring June 30.

As the campus' chief academic and administrative officer, Birx will be responsible for the quality of Penn State Erie's academic programs in teaching, research and service, and overall operations of the campus, including strategic planning and budgeting, fundraising, alumni and community relations, intercollegiate athletics, outreach activities, faculty and staff development and personnel matters.

"Don Birx's experience in both academia and industry will help open the traditional boundaries between both worlds, enhancing students' educational experiences at Penn State Erie while at the same time benefitting the local community," said John Romano, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses. "In addition, his varied background, with degrees in arts and sciences, engineering and business, has enabled him to see the strong collaborative possibilities that exist in these very different fields and to build programs that tie the arts and humanities to the sciences and engineering. We're looking forward to his building such programs at Penn State Erie."

Penn State President Graham B. Spanier agreed. "Involving undergraduate students in research is an important area of focus at Penn State Erie. Annually, the campus funds nearly $250,000 in undergraduate research opportunities and operates more than two dozen outreach centers, programs, and initiatives. I see great synergy between the campus' goals for its students and the breadth of experience Don Birx brings with him, and I look forward to even greater opportunities for students at the campus moving forward with him as chancellor."

Birx comes to Penn State from the University of Houston System, where he has been vice president of research since 2006. Before that, he was interim vice provost/president for research and professor of physics at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M., while simultaneously serving as president and founder of PSI, a corporate entity at the institution for technology development and incubation. Before his tenure at New Mexico State, Birx spent 19 years at Systems Research Laboratories Inc., in Dayton, Ohio.

Birx holds a bachelor's degree in engineering physics from University of California – Berkeley; a master's degree in bio-physics and an MBA in finance, both from Miami University of Ohio; and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Dayton.

"Penn State Behrend is a vibrant college with an impressive history, strong academic credentials and innovative and creative programs. It is a flexible and growing campus with strong community support, an excellent faculty and staff, and incredible students – and it's part of one of the best universities in the world," said Birx. "The campus is developing real interdisciplinary strengths and there are opportunities for collective growth across the liberal arts, engineering, math and science, and business. Plus, the combination of the Knowledge Park with its growing linkages among business, engineering and industry provides a learning environment that is stimulated by hands-on experiences and entrepreneurship. I am thrilled to be a part of the team that will shape Behrend's next decade as it continues to develop as a leader in high-quality, innovative programs for education, research and economic development."

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Last Updated November 18, 2010