Advertisement

Former chief academic officer returns to Penn State Mont Alto

Francis K. Achampong took over Aug. 1 as the college's new chancellor

August 28, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Francis K. Achampong answers a question Wednesday during a press conference with area newspapers. Achampong took over as Penn State Mont Alto's new chancellor on Aug. 1
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

MONT ALTO, Pa. — When Francis K. Achampong took over as Penn State Mont Alto’s new chancellor on Aug. 1, he viewed it as something of a multifaceted homecoming.

“I came back home in more ways than one. I am back on the campus where I started my Penn State career, and I’m back home with my family and my friends,” Achampong said Wednesday.

Achampong worked at Penn State Mont Alto as its chief academic officer from 2002 until 2010, when he transferred to the Penn State Fayette campus in western Pennsylvania to serve as its interim chancellor.

He traveled to his home in Fayetteville, Pa., on the weekends to spend time with his wife, Nicole, and three children, but the distance took its toll on the family.

Achampong smiled as he said his 10-year-old daughter, Gabby, “mounted a letter-writing campaign” to encourage her father to return full time. That was weighing on his mind when former Penn State Mont Alto Chancellor David Gnage retired and created a vacancy.

Advertisement

Even before his official first day of work, Achampong was contacting local officials to sign up for organizations like the Rotary Club and chamber of commerce. He hopes to serve on workforce development boards.

Achampong also has been attending campus events, including receptions.

“I got to reconnect with a lot of people I already knew and meet some new ones,” he said.

Penn State Mont Alto has 1,131 students and 214 full-time employees, including 60 full-time faculty members. Achampong, who hired many of those professors during his previous term, said he is enjoying hearing updates on their research.

A native of West Africa, Achampong holds a doctorate in law from the University of London and a master’s degree from Georgetown University.

Higher education faces challenges, some of which were exacerbated by the recession, Achampong said.

Discussions in society about whether a college education is actually worthwhile are improper, because college graduates have higher lifetime earnings and are less likely to be laid off in recessionary times, he said.

“Folks with a college degree tend to rebound easier in the (economic) recovery,” he said.

Penn State Mont Alto, which has an enrollment goal of 1,300 students, is well positioned, because high schools in the region are experiencing increased enrollment, compared to portions of Pennsylvania with declining populations in kindergarten through 12th grade, Achampong said.

The campus is working to stay on the cusp of technological innovations and to build its endowments to further offer financial aid, including funding during students’ hardship situations, he said.

Achampong called Penn State Mont Alto a “hidden gem.”

“I’ve been telling people it’s good to be a gem,” he said. “It’s not so good to be hidden.”

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|