Levon Esters Named Dean of the Graduate School at Penn State University

Levon Esters — formerly associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion and faculty affairs for Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute and professor of agricultural sciences education — has been named dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for graduate education at Penn State.

As vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School, Esters will provide mission-critical leadership and oversight across all of Penn State’s more than 200 graduate fields of study, including 109 research master’s degree programs, 99 professional master’s degree programs and 95 research doctoral programs. He will oversee the admission, matriculation and graduation of all graduate students across the University, with the exception of professional students in the College of Medicine, Dickinson Law and Penn State Law.

A core focus of Esters’ career has been developing programs to support underrepresented graduate students, with emphasis on STEM-based agricultural and life sciences disciplines. His research explores issues of educational equity and access of marginalized and minoritized students, with a concentration on the mentoring needs of Black graduate students; career development for students in STEM who attend historically Black land-grant universities; and educational and professional mobility and development of Black graduate students and faculty.

“Dr. Esters is a respected mentor, educator and scholar who brings a wealth of experience and leadership that will be critical to Penn State’s continued growth and success as a leader in graduate education worldwide,” said Justin Schwartz, Penn State’s interim executive vice president and provost. “We all will benefit from Dr. Esters’ depth of knowledge and expertise as a researcher, teacher and leader. Dr. Esters has an excellent track record of developing programming designed to serve the needs of students from underrepresented backgrounds, and his leadership will be invaluable to promoting the continued excellence and growth of graduate education at Penn State.”

WittKieffer’s Suzanne Teer, Jessica Herrington and Luis Bertot led this search.

Read the full announcement.