Vice President of Human Resources & Chief Human Resources Officer

The Pennsylvania State University seeks an accomplished and visionary leader to serve in the critically important role of Vice President of Human Resources & Chief Human Resources Officer. This executive will have university-wide accountability for providing comprehensive human resources services, expertise, policies and best practices (excluding Penn State Health). As a member of the President’s senior executive council, the CHRO will provide leadership across all human resources organizations and foster strategic collaborations and build partnerships that drive organizational effectiveness in support of the university’s mission and vision.


About The Pennsylvania State University 

Twenty-four campuses: 37,000 faculty and staff; 100,000 students; a teaching hospital with 1 million patient visits a year; over 670,000 active alumni; an online World Campus that empowers anyone to pursue an education—anytime, anywhere; and the largest student-run philanthropic organization on the planet.

The next CHRO will play a pivotal and highly visible role in fully implementing a comprehensive transformation of HR policies, practices, and technologies over the next several years. This is a unique opportunity to complete the design and implementation of an HR system and culture specifically tailored to adding value to a world-class research institution. As the university adopts this comprehensive plan, it seeks a CHRO with a successful track record of leadership and management during a period of significant institutional change. 


The Opportunity

This is an outstanding leadership opportunity that requires an innovative, highly driven executive who is connected and engaged with all faculty and staff, and focused on contemporary human resource delivery practices. The successful candidate will possess broad human resources knowledge; expertise in strategic, collaborative, and consultative services; a sophisticated approach to organizational leadership; and technical expertise in key areas of human resources. This leader will also bring experience leading human resources staff and programs in very large, complex, and multi-discipline enterprises.


The CHRO will demonstrate the core competencies and personal traits necessary for success, including intelligence, sound judgment, strong problem-solving skills, diplomacy, political savvy, a direct and open communication style, decisiveness, tolerance for organizational ambiguity, and personal confidence and humility.


This position reports directly to Senior Vice President for Finance & Business and Treasurer David Gray and is a member of the President's Council - the university's most senior leadership forum. This executive is expected to add value to the university and the HR organization by:

  • Serving as Chief Human Resources Officer and senior level advisor to the president and cabinet by providing strategic and operational guidance on all HR issues;
  • Mentoring, coaching, engaging, and teaching employees in an effort to promote a common understanding and appreciation for the university's land-grant mission, and for the role that all employees play in addressing the needs of an increasingly diverse and global community;
  • Overseeing comprehensive employee services and programs that create and foster a productive, diverse, and inclusive environment in which university employees can work and thrive, with an emphasis on employee and career development and culture as the university maintains its standard as an employer of choice;
  • Serving as the primary liaison to the Penn State Board of Trustees' Committee on Compensation and Subcommittee on Human Resources;
  • Establishing and maintaining collaborations and partnerships between the Office of Human Resources and Penn State's academic and administrative units to best recruit, train, mentor, develop, and retain all Penn State employees;
  • Establishing and maintaining an effective working relationship with the General Counsel's office on labor, employment, compliance, non-discrimination, anti-harassment and other relevant matters;
  • Promoting effective employee services and programs that foster an employment environment that values diversity and builds a culture of respect and engagement;
  • Promoting effective employee services and programs that align with the university's strategic direction and effectively articulate their importance to the Penn State community; and
  • Ensuring that employees are supported in their education, research, and service activities to assume social and civic leadership and responsibility, and to thrive in an intellectual environment where the human mind and spirit are nurtured for success.


Ideal Candidate Profile

The desired candidates will have these experiences and qualifications:

  • Extensive, progressively responsible administrative and leadership experience in large, multifaceted, highly decentralized organizations with accountability for programmatic oversight, resource management and employee and organizational development;
  • Demonstrated success working in environments with shared services organizations;
  • A track record of sustained success in establishing, managing, and evaluating effectiveness of HR and organizational development projects and programs including talent acquisition, onboarding and comprehensive talent management strategies;
  • Demonstrated commitment to the development of employees as individuals; support for employee engagement across a wide variety of talent, experiences, and activities; and the establishment and maintenance of strong employee relationships;
  • Demonstrated commitment to fostering wellness and inclusiveness in an organization;
  • Deep knowledge and expertise in the laws, policies, and regulations related to the hiring, employment, benefits and separation processes;
  • Current knowledge and evidence of success in working with collective bargaining units;
  • Demonstrated record of building a continuous improvement culture based on evaluation and use of analysis and data; ability to evaluate and maintain data integrity and reliability of information provided;
  • Experience in leading an organization through the implementation of a new ERP platform;
  • Direct experience working collaboratively with - and supporting - a governing board, president/CEO, and senior leadership team; and
  • Demonstrated commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion so as to align with university values and the president's vision for Penn State.



The Pennsylvania State University has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this search. For the full position profile, please ciick here. Please submit applications, expressions of interest and nominations to Beth Schaefer and Liz Neumann here.


The University is committed to equal access to programs, facilities, admission and employment for all persons. It is the policy of the University to maintain an environment free of harassment and free of discrimination against any person because of age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas.  Discriminatory conduct and harassment, as well as sexual misconduct and relationship violence, violates the dignity of individuals, impedes the realization of the University’s educational mission, and will not be tolerated.


Please note that final candidates for the position will be required to complete a background check process based on the requirements of the position including child abuse and criminal history checks, as well as a credit check.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with higher education, nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit