Penn State Berks officially welcomed its fifth leader on Jan. 4, when George Grant Jr. assumed the position of chancellor. He was selected following a national search to succeed Keith Hillkirk, who retired in December after more than 15 years of service to the University. Grant will address faculty, staff and advisory board members in a Town Hall at 12:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, and students in a Town Hall at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27.
In his role as chancellor, Grant is responsible for all aspects of college administration, including the quality of academic programs; research; outreach; enrollment and financial aid; student affairs; diversity and inclusion; strategic planning; budgeting; philanthropy; and community and alumni relations at the campus.
Assuming office during the global coronavirus pandemic, Grant stated that his top priority is the physical health, mental health, and safety of the Penn State Berks community. He stated, “We must continue to follow all the recommended health and safety protocols in response to the coronavirus pandemic so we can all come back to campus when the time is right.”
Grant brings a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging to the role. One of his main priorities is creating an inclusive, supportive environment and bringing members of the college community together. He plans to ensure that all members of the college community are recognized for their worth and have a voice and a seat of the table. His main emphasis is student accessibility.
“There are talented people with great ideas in all areas of the college who only need the opportunity to be heard. I will listen and respect the opinions of the campus community, and will make time to answer questions, mentor, and help find growth opportunities,” stated Grant. “Our growth, impact and future rely on us to see each other's strength and commitment. Knowing that we can go further together unites us.”
“Dr. Grant’s wealth of knowledge, experience and engaged leadership will be of immense value to Penn State Berks and the broader community,” said Madlyn Hanes, Penn State’s senior vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor. “He brings a strong sense of community, a lifelong drive for social justice and passion for lifting others, and a demonstrated commitment to academic excellence and student success. I am so pleased he will be joining Penn State as chancellor of the Berks campus.”
Formerly dean and professor of the College of Community and Public Service at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, Grant was responsible for undergraduate and graduate programs in criminal justice; public, nonprofit and health administration; legal studies; hospitality/tourism management; and social work; as well as a police academy and the college’s undergraduate advising center and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy.
Grant said his career has been focused on working with public and private organizations, health care, law enforcement, family and community foundations, and K-12 school systems around economic development, educational attainment, and social justice to provide access and resources to help communities find their voice, advocate for their needs, and care for their families.
“I’m excited and honored to be the next chancellor of Penn State Berks. We have talented students, faculty, and staff who I will have the privilege of serving. I’m committed to Berks as a learning-centered college community and will never lose sight of that mission,” stated Grant.
Grant earned his bachelor’s degree in social work from Marygrove College, his master’s from Grand Valley State University, and his doctorate in sociology from Western Michigan University.