Interims announced in VP for research, Graduate School dean positions

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State President Rodney Erickson has announced the appointment of Neil Sharkey, associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Health and Human Development, as interim vice president for research; and Regina Vasilatos-Younken, senior associate dean for the Graduate School, as interim dean for the Graduate School, both effective Aug. 1. Henry C. “Hank” Foley, who announced his departure for the University of Missouri System later this summer, previously held both positions in a combined role. Erickson said the University will conduct a search for an individual to once again fill both roles beginning later this year.

“Penn State is fortunate to have strong and experienced leaders in Drs. Sharkey and Vasilatos-Younken to step in and guide the University’s nationally-acclaimed Graduate School and research enterprise during this period of transition,” Erickson said. “Dr. Sharkey, as associate dean for research and graduate education, brings a long track record of success in academic and research leadership to the Office of the Vice President for Research, and Dr. Vasilatos-Younken, as senior associate dean, is the perfect choice to serve as interim leader for the Graduate School, its exemplary faculty and high-quality degree programs.”

Sharkey is professor of kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State. As interim vice president, he will oversee research at Penn State, which is ranked among the nation’s top public research universities. Penn State’s industry and privately sponsored research expenditures in 2012 exceeded $110 million, and total research expenditures for 2012 topped an all-time high of $808 million.

Sharkey served as director of research in the Department of Kinesiology prior to his appointment as associate dean for research and graduate education. He joined the faculty in the Department of Kinesiology in 1997. Sharkey holds a bachelor of science degree in physiology and doctoral degree in comparative pathology, both from the University of California, Davis, and he maintains professional associations with the American Society of Biomechanics, the Orthopaedic Research Society and the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

Vasilatos-Younken is professor of endocrine physiology and nutrition in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State. As interim dean, she will lead one of the largest graduate schools in the nation, with more than 13,500 graduate students enrolled across the University Park campus; certain Commonwealth Campuses, including Great Valley, Harrisburg, and Erie; the Penn State World Campus; and the Penn State College of Medicine. The Graduate School offers more than 165 graduate fields of study and more than 30 graduate degree titles, including the research doctorate, research master’s degrees, two professional doctorates and more than 25 professional master’s degree titles in residence, as well as select professional master’s degree programs delivered at a distance through the Penn State World Campus.

Prior to accepting the position of senior associate dean of the Graduate School, Vasilatos-Younken served as chair of the University Park component of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Physiology. She joined the faculty in the College of Agricultural Sciences in 1983. She holds a bachelor of science degree in animal and pre-veterinary science from the University of Maine at Orono and a doctor of philosophy degree in animal nutrition from Penn State. Vasilatos-Younken’s professional affiliations have included the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Endocrine Society, the American Society of Animal Science, and the Poultry Science Association.

Last Updated July 17, 2013