Vice President for Administration Tom Poole to retire from post

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After serving more than a decade in a post that has been referred to as the “president’s chief of staff,” Thomas G. Poole, Penn State’s vice president for administration, today (March 1) announced his decision to begin a phased retirement from the University. A search committee will be formed soon to begin a search for candidates to replace him. 

Poole will begin his phased retirement on June 30.

Poole, whose extensive career in higher education spans 36 years, was named vice president in July 2009, after having worked as associate to the president for administration since 2007. The position had taken on critical duties and received the change in title to reflect the additional responsibilities. Poole, who also is a member of the President’s Council, has a direct reporting line to the president and is responsible for daily operations of the Office of the President and the Office of the Board of Trustees.

“Tom Poole has been a valuable and longstanding leader in Penn State’s administration, and has been instrumental in numerous key University decisions throughout his many years of service,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “His deep understanding of higher education and its complexities, as well as his knowledge of policy issues and the history of Penn State, has been instrumental in keeping our University on track and helping us to be as effective as possible in fulfilling our mission.”

Barron added that Poole’s importance to the strategic and tactical operations of Penn State, as well as his ability to handle challenges have made him a trusted adviser.

“Tom’s ethics and integrity also bring a thoughtful and principled approach to problem solving and are a large part of the reason that he is such a trusted adviser,” Barron explained. “His contributions have been many and I thank him for everything he has done and continues to do to advance the priorities of our institution without fail.”

Over his past 11 years in the President’s Office, Poole has had a role in numerous critical leadership decisions. His oversight of executive searches for six Penn State vice presidents; the director of athletics; the executive vice president and provost; and the director of ethics and compliance, are just a few examples of his impact on Penn State. As principal senior liaison with members of the Board of Trustees, he also served as the executive secretary to the Trustee Presidential Selection Committee when Barron was named, and part of the search committee for head football Coach James Franklin. In May 2013, he was elected secretary of the Corporation/Board of Trustees, where he answers directly to the chair of the board.

Poole was one of three University executives assigned to implement recommendations from the Freeh Report in 2012; he created the committee to organize and complete a comprehensive, systematic review of all University policies; and is currently chair of the Greek Life Response Team as well as the Facilities Naming Committee.

”For the past 11 years I have had the privilege of working in the President’s Office at one of the world’s great research universities. I have served three University presidents, worked with six chairs of the Board of Trustees, dozens of devoted trustees and hundreds of colleagues,” Poole said. “I look forward to continuing my service to Penn State in a new capacity, taking with me memories that will last a lifetime.”

Before joining the Office of the President, Poole served for nine years as associate vice provost for Educational Equity. In that role, he helped to create and implement the University’s “Framework to Foster Diversity at Penn State.” He also chaired the Equal Opportunity Planning Committee (EOPC) and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Committee. Prior to his position in Educational Equity, Poole served for 16 years in Student Affairs including 10 years as director of Penn State's Center for Ethics and Religious Affairs.  Poole has taught in both religious studies and African and African American studies. His research and teaching focus on African American religion, Christian social ethics, social transformation and cultural studies.

He serves on the Board of Directors of Penn College (appointed 2012); served on the governing board of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Centre County, Mount Nittany Health (2014-2018); and is a trustee on the Governing Board of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.

Poole earned a bachelor of arts degree from Roberts Wesleyan College; a master of divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Crozer Theological Seminary; and a doctoral degree in religious studies from Penn State. Poole is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church USA, a Fellow of the Society for Values in Higher Education, and a member of several other national professional organizations.

Barron said as part of Poole’s phased retirement, he will assist part-time with the transition as well as serve as an affiliate faculty member in Penn State’s higher education program, and an adviser to Penn State Greater Allegheny’s “Crossing Bridges: A Summit,” a project that reaches out to neighboring communities to better understand the role the campus can play in addressing social needs in the region and bridging the racial divide.

Last Updated March 01, 2018