Neeli Bendapudi officially became Penn State’s 19th president on Monday, and her journey so far has been undeniably unique.
She was born and raised in Vizag, India, a town in the southern “rice bowl” agricultural region of the country, before moving to the United States to pursue her doctorate at the University of Kansas. From there, she excelled at every step of her journey – as a doctoral student, professor of marketing, dean, provost and then president.
Here’s a look at how Bendapudi came to Happy Valley and her experiences along the way, based on multiple accounts and reports over a period of nearly 30 years:
May 1994: Bendapudi graduated with a doctorate. in marketing from the University of Kansas, where his father also earned his doctorate, after earning a bachelor’s degree in English and an MBA from Andrha University in India. She previously received the Richard D. Irwin Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, awarded to dissertations through a national competition, in addition to receiving a similar Kansas Fellowship designed for five college students. She obtained five scholarships during her doctorate and, in 1993, won a University Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award.
Fall 1994: Bendapudi began his college career at Texas A&M as an assistant professor of marketing. One of his first research papers was published in August in the Journal of Marketing titled “Enhancing Memory of Television Commercials Through Message Spacing.” She became a member of the journal’s editorial board in 1996.
1996: Bendapudi is starting a new job, with a similar title, at Ohio State. She became an assistant professor of marketing there, before being promoted to associate professor in 2002. She was recognized in 2000 for her work as a teacher at the business school — but, in the years that followed, this recognition only grew. . In 2001, she achieved college-wide recognition with the Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award and, in 2003, national recognition for being named Marketing Educator of the Year by the Academy of American Marketing Association.
2005: While at Ohio State, Bendapudi was appointed founding director of the Initiative for Service Management (IMS) at the Fisher College of Business, which aims to connect theory and practice in service management . In five years, IMS now has 25 companies, including several Fortune 100 companies. She has authored and/or co-authored at least eight research papers during her time at IMS, in addition to contributing to chapters of several different books.
April 2007: After initially consulting for Columbus-based Huntington National Bank, she left Ohio State to become the company’s executive vice president and chief client officer. (Huntington held about $55 billion in assets at the time and had about 12,000 employees.) According to BizJournals, Bendapudi said that “leaving OSU for the corporate world taught him that his professional passion was higher education”. She returned to Ohio State in 2008.
December 2008: Bendapudi leaves Huntington National Bank and returns to Ohio State, resuming his position as Director of IMS. She was also elevated to Professor of Marketing in 2008 and in 2009 won a departmental honor in the James Ginter Outstanding Marketing Professor Award. She remains at Ohio State until her next stop, the University of Kansas, in 2011.
August 1, 2011: Selected in April, Bendapudi officially begins her tenure as Dean of the University of Kansas School of Business, becoming the first woman to hold the position. She said at the time: “My hope is to work with all stakeholders of our business school to make it a great place to learn, a great place to work, a great place to partner and a great place to invest. .” During his five-year tenure, Bendapudi sees enrollment increase by 62%, in addition to placement after graduation, from 55% to 77%. She was inducted into the KU Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014, and in 2016 earned a spot on Ingram’s Magazine’s “50 Kansans You Should Know.”
July 1, 2016: Bendapudi becomes provost and executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas, succeeding Jeffrey S. Vitter, who became the 17th chancellor of the University of Mississippi. During her brief 2-year tenure, Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod praised Bendapudi saying she “prioritized retention and graduation rates, faculty and staff development and our university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion”.
May 15, 2018: Bendapudi officially takes over as the 18th president of the University of Louisville, succeeding two interim presidents who followed James Ramsey after his resignation following numerous scandals. Ramsey oversaw an escort sex scandal involving rookies between 2010 and 2014, NCAA investigations, a scandal where he and staff members dressed up as stereotypical Mexicans, and another scandal where he was accused of embezzlement. funds because of his dual role as chairman of the university’s charitable foundation. Louisville sued Ramsey for $80 million before finally settling for just $800,000. Bendapudi said a month ago, “The leader can’t be everywhere, but the leader can absolutely set the tone for who we are, what we will be and what we won’t tolerate.”
July 11-13, 2018: Bendapudi is tested within two months of taking office at Louisville when one of the university’s top boosters, “Dad” John Schnatter, admits to using the n-word during a conference call in May. This revelation came on July 11, and within 48 hours Bendapudi announced that Louisville had changed the name of the football stadium from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to simply “Cardinal Stadium”. Effective immediately. The move comes months after Bendapudi promised a more inclusive environment in Louisville. She is widely praised for the decision, with one local columnist saying she handled her first crisis “beautifully”. In the first line of his column, he writes: “Well done, Madam President”.
August 4, 2021: After a ‘high review’ by the Louisville board, Bendapudi receives a six-figure raise in the form of a new five-year deal worth $875,000 in base salary, in addition to an annual retention incentive of $200,000. Louisville administrators noted in July that she initially accepted a lower salary than her predecessors because she said she wanted to earn it. She hasn’t approached the trustees about a 2021 raise but, trustee chair Mary Nixon said, “She clearly deserved it.” Nixon added, “We continue to be very impressed and grateful for Neeli’s leadership at the University of Louisville.” Among his accomplishments were acquiring a new hospital and surrounding facilities, with Louisville’s highest enrollment rate in decades, and stabilizing a scandal-ridden ship.
December 9, 2021: Penn State’s board of directors votes unanimously to nominate Bendapudi as Penn State’s next president. David Kleppinger, Vice Chairman of Trustees and Co-Chair of the Presidential Recruitment and Selection Committee, said, “In Dr. Bendapudi, we have found a values-driven leader who will help bring out the best in this institution and lead successfully. Penn State in the future. Around 80 presidential candidates were initially selected for meetings and conversations, with around 50 target prospects assessed by the board of directors, before Bendapudi was ultimately chosen. His five-year contract includes a base salary of $950,000 and $350,000 in annual supplemental pension contributions.
May 9, 2022: Bendapudi officially begins her term as the 19th president in the history of Penn State, replacing the 18th president Eric Barron, who retired the day before. She becomes the first woman and first non-white person in the university’s 167-year history to hold the top job. In a video message to the Penn State community, Bendapudi said, “I am thrilled to be here and to work alongside each of you to continue advancing excellence for all Penn Staters.”