Five Commonwealth Campus leaders to retire from Penn State

Lion Shrine York Summer
Credit: Dave McLaughlin

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five Penn State Commonwealth Campus leaders will be retiring from the University in the coming weeks and months, Penn State Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses and Executive Chancellor Margo DelliCarpini has announced.

In an email message to the Commonwealth Campus community on June 11, DelliCarpini said that Penn State Mont Alto’s Francis Kofi Achampong, Shenango’s Jo Anne Carrick, York’s David Christiansen, and Scranton’s Marwan Wafa will be retiring at the end of June, and New Kensington’s Kevin Snider will be retiring at the end of December.

“All have led their respective campuses successfully and impactfully, focusing on student-centeredness, academic program development, community engagement, outreach, financial stewardship and philanthropy,” DelliCarpini wrote. “They leave behind a legacy of collaboration, innovation and excellent leadership that will serve as a strong foundation for their successors.”

Francis Kofi Achampong

Achampong has served Penn State since 2002 in various roles, returning to Penn State Mont Alto in 2013 as chancellor. Notable accomplishments include launching a mentoring program for tenure-track faculty; supporting all tenure-line faculty through the tenure and promotion process; enriching the diversity on campus; collaborating with the campus faculty senate to develop guidelines for hiring and reviewing part-time faculty that served as an institutional model; creating various programs in support of academic success, inclusion and enrollment management; partnering with the director of campus development to help raise more than $4 million for its For the Future Campaign, reaching 118% over the campaign goal; providing leadership to designate allied health (the health sciences) as Penn State Mont Alto’s niche, offering two-year Occupational Therapy Assistant and Physical Therapist Assistant programs, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, and plans to add a bachelor’s degree in biobehavioral health. He spearheaded construction of a $13 million state-of-the-art allied health building, which opened in 2022, increasing the campus’ health care degree portfolio to now include a bachelor of science in health policy and administration and a bachelor of science in occupational science, with a master of science in occupational therapy slated to begin in fall 2026. Achampong has served on and led many University-wide committees, in addition to various boards and volunteer work within the community.

Jo Anne Carrick

Carrick was named campus director at Penn State Shenango in 2014, following stints as a nursing program coordinator and RN, B.S.N. (registered nurse, bachelor of science in nursing) faculty member at both the Beaver and Behrend campuses. During her tenure as campus director, Carrick oversaw the launch of an athletics program at Shenango that has since grown to include six sports and has directly resulted in a shift in the campus’ demographic from 70% adult learners to a current rate of 75% traditional-age students. Under Carrick’s leadership, the University partnered with the city of Sharon and the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio to invest $4 million to create the Shenango LaunchBox, powered by the Greater Sharon Community, as well as the Sharon Community Development Fund to support local businesses and entrepreneurs. Additionally, the campus underwent an $8 million renovation of its Forker Laboratory building under Carrick’s tenure, which also is the home of the newly opened Information Technology Cybersecurity Center. Carrick also has been engaged with the local community, serving on various boards and chambers. She created the Kara and Justin Henderson Memorial Scholarship in 2021 in memory of her niece and nephew, which is awarded to Shenango students majoring in human development and family studies or nursing.

David Christiansen

Christiansen began serving as the chancellor of Penn State York in 2018. He joined the Penn State community in 2004 as a professor of classics and senior associate dean for academic affairs at Penn State Behrend. In 2013, he was appointed as associate vice president and senior associate dean for the Penn State Commonwealth Campuses. Over the course of his career at Penn State, Christiansen has overseen the creation of more than 90 academic programs across the University. He co-chaired Penn State’s Enhanced Education Pathways committee, which created several programs to increase the graduation rates of first-generation and low-income students, including the Pathway to Success: Summer Start (PaSSS) program and Complete Penn State. In addition to his active engagement in the local business community, he worked with University Development to create the Open Doors Program, which raised more than $650 million in endowed scholarships and gifts to support undergraduate students.

Kevin Snider

Snider has served as chancellor of Penn State New Kensington since 2008. Under his leadership, the New Kensington campus has been the driver of major initiatives in K-12 education, economic development and entrepreneurship, while creating learning opportunities for students, such as the founding of the Westmoreland Economic Development Corporation for Growth (WEDIG), a consortium of five local municipalities, and ABC CREATE, a collaborative of 14 school districts aimed at student preparation in STEAM education curriculum and project design. Snider has been instrumental in developing community revitalization programs in the new digital economy, such as Nextovation, engaging more than 30 corporate, government, educational, foundation and community partners. Under Snider's leadership, Penn State New Kensington was able to complete one of the University's first Invent Penn State innovation hubs with The Corner LaunchBox in 2017. Snider also oversaw the creation of The Digital Foundry at New Kensington, a 15,044-square-foot manufacturing and technology hub, which opened in 2022, to bolster southwestern Pennsylvania’s manufacturing, workforce, education and community strength in future-ready skillsets and industry. These projects have brought the community and University millions of dollars in funding through federal, state and local grants, as well as expanded industry partnerships, unique opportunities for Penn State New Kensington students, and ongoing commitment to the University's land-grant mission. Snider will remain in his position to continue to lead the campus and the transition for The Digital Foundry at New Kensington through his Dec. 31 retirement.

Marwan Wafa

Wafa has served as chancellor of Penn State Scranton since 2015. Under Wafa’s leadership, the campus' academic offerings were expanded to 14 bachelor degrees, adding programs in biology, corporate communication and mechanical engineering. For mechanical engineering, he oversaw the acquisition of the former Grainger industrial supply site and its conversion to the campus' new Engineering Building, which now also houses the Center for Business Development and Community Outreach, as well as police services. He implemented multiple capital improvement projects on campus, including significant renovations to the Dawson Building that created modern office areas for administrative functions, an IT lab, art studio, a new music space and academic program spaces for HDFS, psychology and biology/science. Other facility enhancements created high-impact student spaces for learning, studying and co-curricular activities. Wafa championed the recently completed multimillion-dollar Library and Nursing Suite renovation, which expanded nursing labs and facilities and added collaborative spaces for the library. Wafa has served on local boards, positioning the campus as a leader in the community and economic development through various collaborations. 

Previously, Fayette campus Chancellor Charles Patrick also announced his retirement from Penn State effective June 28, and Schuylkill campus Chancellor Patrick Jones announced he will be leaving the University effective June 30 to assume the presidency of Bucks County Community College.

“While the accomplishments of these leaders are difficult to summarize in just a few brief narratives, their impact will be felt for years to come, and I am incredibly grateful for their service and their commitment to our students, to academic excellence, and to the communities they have served,” DelliCarpini wrote. “They have truly been wonderful partners as we navigate the current budgetary challenges and begin to develop a future vision for the Commonwealth Campuses.”

As announced by the University on June 11, Penn State will be streamlining its leadership structure at the Commonwealth Campuses following these retirements, and several campuses will become part of a new regional leadership model starting July 1. Additional details about the new campus leadership structure are available here.