Robert Pangborn, vice president and dean for Undergraduate Education, to retire

September 22, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Robert Pangborn, vice president and dean for Undergraduate Education, has announced his intention to retire in December 2020 after almost 15 years leading Undergraduate Education and more than 41 years of dedicated service to Penn State. 

Robert Pangborn

Robert Pangborn, vice president and dean for Undergraduate Education

IMAGE: Penn State

As vice president and dean, Pangborn has played a critical role in Penn State’s educational mission by providing vision and leadership in the many areas of undergraduate education across the University — including student orientation and transition programs; undergraduate research experiences; internships and engaged scholarship; cross-campus curricular coherence and integration; general education and learning support services; prior learning assessment; and student academic advisement and success. The Office of Undergraduate Education he oversees is the home for administrative units addressing these areas, as well as for the ROTC programs, Summer Sessions, the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, the Division of Undergraduate Studies, the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center, and the Morgan Academic Center for student athletes. Pangborn also provides oversight for the offices of Undergraduate Admissions, and the University Registrar and Student Aid, serving Penn State's 20 baccalaureate degree-granting campuses. 

”The opportunity to serve this University for over four decades has truly been an honor,” notes Pangborn. “I have been fortunate to have had accomplished mentors and to work with dedicated and talented teams along the way, as well as so many other colleagues who are committed to enhancing the student experience and furthering students’ achievement and success.” 

The University plans to conduct a national search for Pangborn’s replacement. 

“Rob has been an incredible colleague, a visionary leader and a dedicated friend to Penn State — and at the heart of all of it all is Rob’s remarkable commitment to students,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “He has guided our Division of Undergraduate Education through exceedingly difficult times with innovative policies and an unflappable demeanor. Penn State’s enrollment has grown, the quality of our students continues to rise and our institution is well-prepared to tackle whatever the future holds. We will miss Rob’s daily presence, but wish him the best as he begins a new chapter in his life.”  

Pangborn began his Penn State career in 1979 as assistant professor of engineering mechanics. He was named a full professor in 1990, a position in which he has remained throughout his service to the University. His research and more than 90 scholarly publications focus on the areas of engineering mechanics and structures, failure analysis and engineering materials. He was elected as a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 1999, an organization for which he also has served in multiple leadership positions. He holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in civil engineering and one in economics and business administration, as well as a master’s and doctoral degree in mechanics and materials science, each from Rutgers University. 

Before being named vice president and dean for Undergraduate Education in 2006, Pangborn worked as associate dean for undergraduate studies and international programs in the College of Engineering for more than 10 years, a position in which he oversaw strategic advancement of curricular development and assessment, instructional services, student recruitment and retention, diversity programming, advising, cooperative education and international programming. He also served as Penn State's interim executive vice president and provost from November 2011 to June 2013. 

“It’s hard to imagine Penn State without Rob in a leadership role,” said Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost. “The University is extremely grateful for his longtime commitment to excellence, from his leadership in the College of Engineering to his nearly 15 years of service as vice president and dean for undergraduate education. Rob’s many impactful contributions over four decades have been invaluable in helping Penn State fulfill its academic mission.” 

Pangborn’s additional leadership and service roles at Penn State include serving as the chair of the Intercollege Graduate Program in Materials from 1993 to 1999; the interim campus executive officer and dean at Penn State Altoona from 1999 to 2000; as a member of the University Faculty Senate since 1985, including serving as chair from 1993 to 1994; and on the Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education from 1992 to the present, including as chair from 2004 to 2006. He also has served as a member of the Faculty Advisory Committee to the President, the University International Council, the Council of Academic Deans, the Academic Leadership Council and President’s Council. Across his multiple positions with the University, he has led and collaborated on programs focused on educational innovation and assessment, reform of the University-wide general education curriculum and cross-disciplinary curricular initiatives and faculty development. His service to the community includes 20 years as a volunteer and life member of the Alpha Fire Company in State College, for which he also served a term as president, as well as his founding membership in the State College Sunrise Rotary and participation on the board of the Centre County United Way and as vice chair of the Pennsylvania College of Technology board of directors. 

His awards and honors from Penn State include the Outstanding Teaching Award and Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award from the Penn State Engineering Society; the University Award for Collaborative Instruction and Curricular Innovation; and the McKay-Donkin Award for contributions to the economic, physical, mental and social welfare of Penn State’s faculty.


Last Updated September 24, 2020