Penn State Greater Allegheny chancellor Curtiss E. Porter announces retirement

The chancellor of Penn State Greater Allegheny, Curtiss E. Porter, announced that he will retire in December after 14 years with Penn State.

"Curtiss Porter's many years of distinguished service to both the campus and the region have left an indelible mark on this community. His visibility and effectiveness as a community leader and educator earned him well-deserved recognition from Talk Magazine as a 2013 Pennsylvania Distinguished College/University President," said Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Penn State's Commonwealth Campuses.

"The campus has benefited from his leadership, especially from his unwavering commitment to student success. Most certainly, our next campus leader will have a solid foundation on which to build. I will be working closely with the campus community in the months ahead in preparation for the transition in leadership," Hanes added.

During his tenure, Porter was instrumental in strengthening the campus's overall educational experience and outreach for students, alumni, and faculty and staff.  In 1999 Porter secured the first four-year degree bearing program at the campus. He changed the landscape of the campus by funding and overseeing construction of a state-of-the-art Student Community Center (SCC). This $4.5 million structure was built to reinforce the idea of the campus being a beacon for development to the surrounding region and signify the strength of the Penn State land-grant mission to provide access to education.

Porter also secured funding to convert a former dining hall into an updated Fitness and Cultural Center (FCC). The FCC contains more than $200,000 in fitness facilities and equipment and has a black box theater in which campus stage productions are held.

Porter headed two successful capital campaigns, with receipts of more than $10 million in total, and secured the largest single campaign gift in the history of the campus in the amount of $2.2 million. He also directed the creation of a scholarship development event, All That's Jazz, now in its 10th year, which has raised nearly $600,000 for student aid.

In 2004, he supported an enduring and highly successful faculty initiative titled Teaching International, designed to promote greater awareness of global trends and civic engagement, and to broaden students' understanding of intercultural and international issues. The campus has led in the creation of international initiatives, including the recruitment of students from across the globe and successful partnerships with universities in India, Chile and Vietnam.

Under Porter’s leadership the campus continued to expand its academic offerings. Beginning with an information sciences technology degree in 1999, Greater Allegheny now offers seven four-year degree programs, including the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees in psychology, business; accounting, individual, management-marketing options, communications, English, and letters arts and sciences.

Porter established his vision for the campus, “To always care for and advance the success of the students, their families and communities.” He was effective in changing the campus name from Penn State McKeesport to Penn State Greater Allegheny to better reflect the vision and expansiveness of the campus’ growing academic and engagement capabilities.                                                                               

Before his appointment at Penn State, Porter was the interim director of the Stamford Campus of the University of Connecticut. Under his leadership, the Stamford Campus built a $47 million structure and experienced a 41 percent increase in freshman admissions.

Porter has held academic positions at California State University at Long Beach and also at the University of Pittsburgh where he established and gained accreditation for the Department of Black Community Education, Research and Development (now Africana Studies) within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Leaving academia for a 15-year period, Porter entered into the social justice field as president and CEO of the Urban League of Southwestern Connecticut. In that position he was able to develop training and educational programming, which served several thousand people annually in becoming employment-ready and obtaining quality jobs and educational experiences. Under Porter’s leadership, the Stamford-based Urban League was able to purchase its own building in downtown Stamford, an otherwise corporate-mecca.

He was promoted to vice president for Affiliate Services of the National Urban League, operating out of New York City. In this capacity, Porter was responsible for the oversight and operational strategies of 134 Urban League affiliates in 34 states.

Porter earned his bachelor of arts degree in English writing and his doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. He returned to community life in the region, becoming the president of the McKeesport-White Oak Rotary and later, receiving the YWCA of Pittsburgh's 2010 Racial Justice Award in the category of education.

For Porter, a Braddock, Pa., native, becoming the chancellor at Penn State Greater Allegheny meant returning home to help the area and its residents move forward against a challenging future.


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Last Updated January 10, 2015