Justin Schwartz named Penn State’s executive vice president and provost

April 23, 2023

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Penn State News. 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Justin Schwartz has been named Penn State’s permanent executive vice president and provost, effective May 1. 
Schwartz has held the role in an interim capacity since August 2022, having previously served as Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Penn State’s College of Engineering since 2017. As provost, Schwartz will serve as Penn State’s chief academic officer and oversee all academic units within the University’s colleges, schools and campuses, as well as major academic support units. 
Schwartz was selected following a national search led by a 19-member committee, co-chaired by Michael Wade Smith, Penn State’s senior vice president and chief of staff, and Michele Stine, chair of the University Faculty Senate and teaching professor of biobehavioral health, with assistance from the search firm Russell Reynolds Associates. 
“Justin is the right person to lead our academic enterprise to new levels of success, and I am thrilled that he is now a permanent member of the leadership team,” said Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi. “Justin is a forward-thinking, collaborative leader with a proven record of recruiting and retaining talented, diverse faculty and staff, and investing in their development; of facilitating interdisciplinary collaborations that span academic domains; and creating opportunities for student academic, career and life success. He shares my passion for the transformative impact of our land-grant mission and for maximizing the potential of our Commonwealth Campuses, and he is committed to providing our students from all backgrounds with the highest-quality educational experiences and outcomes.” 
Reporting directly to the president, Schwartz will continue to serve as a member of President’s Council, chair Penn State’s Council of Academic Deans and the Academic Leadership Council, and serve as an ex officio member of the University Faculty Senate and Senate Council. He also will help to lead Penn State’s next strategic plan, and he will provide vision and leadership to enhance the University’s academic quality and research impact, operationalize its land-grant mission, and elevate its national and international stature. 
The search committee highlighted Schwartz’s commitment to the University’s access mission and the Commonwealth Campuses, his prolific personal research portfolio and success in helping to grow the research enterprise as dean of the College of Engineering, and the relationships he has developed with faculty and the University’s shared governance partners among the factors that made him the committee’s top choice. 
“I am humbled and honored to serve this incredible institution as its next executive vice president and provost,” Schwartz said. “Working with Neeli and her leadership team has been a privilege for the last eight months, and the opportunity now to partner with her and our entire community to implement her vision for the University is exciting. Our people are what make Penn State so special, and my success will be measured by the accomplishments of our deans and chancellors, our faculty and staff, and our students. I look forward to working collaboratively and embracing new ideas to advance the University’s land-grant mission and open doors for even greater excellence, innovation and impact on the communities we serve.”  
During his time as interim provost, Schwartz has prioritized efforts to improve the recruitment, retention, advancement and sense of belonging of students, faculty and staff from underrepresented groups. He also partnered with the senior vice president for Finance and Business on the development of a new University budget allocation model that supports the long-term health of the academic enterprise, while working closely with deans and faculty on resource needs for growth and strategic opportunities. 
Schwartz is deeply committed to student, faculty and staff success and to nurturing meaningful and transparent working relationships with the University Faculty Senate, the University Staff Advisory Council and student government. 
“We need to think about student success as not only graduation rates, but also about closing the gap in graduation rates based on demographics,” Schwartz said. “When our students graduate, it is important that they are ready for what they want to do next in life, and that they are recognized for their resilience, intellect, training and skill set. We also want this to be a community of excellent scholars that our faculty and staff are proud to be a part of it; where they feel that their roles and contributions are significant, meaningful and recognized; and that their sense of belonging is genuine.” 
Schwartz is leading the workstream to help advance President Bendapudi’s goal for enhancing student success, which is focused on preparing students for successful and fulfilling professional and personal lives. He also is serving as co-lead of the presidential goal and workstream for growing interdisciplinary research excellence, and he will serve as a strategic partner to the senior vice president for research and other academic executives to drive robust interdisciplinary research, scholarship and creative activity. 
In collaboration with the newly appointed vice president for enrollment management, the vice president for Commonwealth Campuses, and campus chancellors, Schwartz will help to facilitate enrollment growth across Penn State’s campuses by employing differentiated strategies to meet the unique needs of each location and address local opportunities and challenges. 
Schwartz has enjoyed a 33-year career in higher education as an academic administrator, researcher and faculty member. 
As dean, he diversified the College of Engineering’s tenure-line faculty ranks, and to support broad efforts to build a more inclusive academic community and equitable engineering workforce, he launched the Engineering Equity Initiative. Schwartz also provided the college with a broad vision for impactful research, leading to an expansion of the college’s presence in defense-related research, strengthening its relationship with the Applied Research Laboratory, and increasing external research awards by more than 50%. In addition, he helped to create the Law, Policy and Engineering Initiative, which brings together faculty from the College of Engineering, Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs to establish research and scholarly collaborations across multiple disciplines. 
He led a facilities master planning process to modernize and improve the College of Engineering’s physical infrastructure in support of its teaching and research missions, and he emphasized student success and well-being for all engineering students at University Park and across the Commonwealth Campuses. Under his leadership, the college modernized its entrance-to-major processes, enabling students to be in-major after one year; enhanced summer internship prospects; and, along with Commonwealth Campus partners, created and launched the Engineering Connect program to address common hurdles faced by first-year engineering students. 
Prior to joining Penn State, Schwartz was distinguished professor and department head of materials science and engineering at North Carolina State University from 2009 to 2017, where he grew the department’s enrollments, faculty, research expenditures and endowment, and he helped to recruit the Eastman Chemical Center of Excellence to NC State. From 1993 to 2009, Schwartz held various faculty positions at Florida State University, including serving as Jack E. Crow Professor of Engineering and senior research adviser to the vice president for research. He began his academic career as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois in 1990. 
Schwartz, who holds the rank of professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State, is a recognized leader in the interdisciplinary field of applied superconductivity. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers on superconducting, magnetic and multiferroic materials, and the systems they enable, and he holds seven patents for his work. In 2015, he co-founded and is chief executive officer of Lupine Materials and Technology Inc., an optical fiber sensors and magnetic materials company. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and ASM International. 
Schwartz earned a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his doctorate in nuclear engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  


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“Justin is the right person to lead our academic enterprise to new levels of success, and I am thrilled that he is now a permanent member of the leadership team.”
—Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi