Chaiken Leadership Award

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Susan Welch
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Chaiken Leadership Award

Susan Welch joined the college in 1991, coming from the University of Nebraska, where she began her career after earning master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She served as dean of the College of the Liberal Arts for twenty-eight years, stepping down as dean in 2019 and returning to her home department as professor of political science. During Susan’s tenure as dean, the college saw the founding of the Paterno Fellows Program, the Career Enrichment Network, the Child Study Center, the Rock Ethics Institute, the Richards Civil War Era Center, the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, and most recently, the Center for Black Digital Research. Susan was instrumental in the college’s African American and African Diaspora Life and Culture cluster hire, which brought eleven new scholars to the college as well as the highly regarded Colored Conventions Project to Penn State. Over the course of her career, Susan authored more than 170 scholarly articles, 6 books, and 2 textbooks. She also has been extremely generous, contributing and pledging more than $2.5 million dollars to support students, faculty, research, and academic initiatives. Susan passed away on Monday, March 28, 2022, and the College of the Liberal Arts plans to host a campus celebration honoring her in the near future; additional information will be shared once plans are finalized.

The Chaiken Leadership Award recognizes alumni and friends of the College of the Liberal Arts who have made a powerful impact on the college through their leadership, philanthropy, and commitment to our mission. This award is named in honor of Roz and Gene Chaiken for their longstanding friendship and investment in key college initiatives such as the Chaiken Chair in Jewish Studies, the Chaiken Center for Student Success, and the Chaiken Trustee Scholarships.

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