Vishakhapatnam-born Neeli Bendapudi is the first woman and person of colour to serve as the University’s president
Neeli Bendapudi, who is currently the president and professor of marketing at the University of Louisville, Kentucky was unanimously chosen for the post of President by the Penn State Board of Trustees on December 9. According to Penn University’s website, when Neeli Bendapudi begins her term as the 19th President, she will “make history as the first woman and person of colour to serve as the University’s president.” There were 10 other candidates, but she emerged as the unanimous choice.
Fifty-eight-year-old Bendapudi is a marketing professor who became Louisville’s president three years ago. According to the University’s website, her research specialises in study of consumer behaviour and “deals with customers’ willingness and ability to maintain long-term relationships with firms and with the brands and employees that represent them.”
Neeli Bendapudi’s contract extends from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2027, with an annual base salary of $950,000 and annual supplemental income of $350,000. If she honours the contract of five years, she will get a payment of $1.25 million. She will also collect the $200,000 “transition payment” and will have defined hours of access to a university plane for personal use.
Bendapudi was born in Visakhapatnam, India, and came to the United States in 1986 as a student for graduate studies. She had received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Andhra University in India before obtaining her doctorate from the University of Kansas in 1994.
Her spouse, Venkat Bendapudi, has been a faculty member at Ohio State, Kansas and Louisville. He is retired now.
Bendapudi has served as provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas, where she originally became dean of its School of Business. She also has teaching experience there as well as Texas A&M University and The Ohio State University. She has been a teacher at the undergraduate, MBA, Executive MBA and PhD levels and received multiple college, university and national teaching awards.
She will start on her new role when current Penn State President Eric Barron, who has been president since 2014, retires in 2022. He had announced his intention to retire in February this year.
Before she embarked on her academic career, Bendapudi was chief customer officer at Huntington National Bank. Her research has been published in the Journal of Academic Medicine, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Retailing, Journal of Service Research and in the annals of various national and international conferences.