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Penn State University names new president

Neeli Bendapudi will be the first woman and person of color to lead Penn State, all its campuses, its hospitals, and its 31,000 full-time employees.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The Penn State Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Neeli Bendapudi as the university's 19th president on Thursday morning.

Bendapudi will take over as president of Penn State in July. She comes to Happy Valley after serving as president of the University of Louisville for the past three years.

Bendapudi will be the first woman and person of color to lead Penn State, all of its campuses, its hospitals, and its 31,000 full-time employees.

The Penn State Board of Trustees appointed her to the $950,000-a-year position at its meeting in State College.

One of her main missions at the University of Louisville was diversity and inclusion.

She also became president of Louisville as it was going through a scandal in its athletic program, something her soon-to-be predecessor at Penn State, Eric Barron, dealt with here.

"Being president of this institution is a sacred trust, and it is truly an opportunity of a lifetime. I am in awe of Penn State's 'We Are' spirit and of the transformative power of a Penn State education, and of the Penn State community that is like no other anywhere. I couldn't be more proud or excited to join this vibrant community," said Bendapudi.

"I do value family above all, and I cannot tell you how many times I heard the word family referring to the Penn State community. I am honored to be a part of the 800,000-plus Penn State family," Bendapudi said

She will be the first woman and person of color to serve as Penn State's president.

"I do recognize the appointment's symbolic value, but to me, what I truly hope it does is that it inspires others to pursue the highest office in their chosen field no matter who they are."

Penn State students told Newswatch 16 that they are excited about this monumental hire.

"I think it is a great thing," said senior Tori Cacciotti. "The first woman and person of color to become president of Penn State is astonishing, and I was speechless while I was in the room. It was witnessing history."

"I think that she is going to fit in perfectly at Penn State," said senior Grace McCarthy. "I can't see her having any other impact other than an extremely positive one at the school.

The president-elect spent most of the news conference talking about the "We Are" spirit that is associated with the university. She laid out her plan for day one as president.

"Eager to learn from everyone about what makes Penn State so special to you, what are your hopes and dreams for Penn State? So that will be the biggest and first task for me."

Barron will continue as Penn State president through next summer.

Bendapudi will take over leading the University on July 1.

She added that the meaning of her name Neeli is "blue," which she said is fitting as she now leads and cheers on the blue and white.

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