'Humble and hungry:' Meet Gary Liguori, the new Penn State Abington chancellor

Shot of Gary Liguori looking toward the left

Gary Liguori began his tenure as the fourth Penn State Abington chancellor on July 1.

Credit: Penn State

ABINGTON, Pa. — New Penn State Abington Chancellor Gary Liguori began his tenure on July 1, arriving during a particularly challenging time in higher education. But his energy, engagement and lengthy list of achievements bode well for the future of the campus. 

Liguori, the former provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of West Florida, boasts a 30-year record of success in education, research and community outreach, and he has held a series of positions with increasing responsibility and leadership.  

During his first week on campus, Liguori reflected on his career and shared his first impressions of Penn State Abington. 

Q: What lessons from your life and career have molded your vision and style as a leader? 

Liguori: There are many, and the lessons never end, so therein lies one lesson: Never stop learning from others. Probably the most profound lesson I’ve learned, indirectly of course, is to be truly self-reflective and not be afraid to see and acknowledge your gaps and challenges, along with your strengths and passions. Being self-reflective keeps me humble and hungry, helps me to be empathetic with others, and keeps me grounded in what is important in my life. Additionally, I was fortunate to have, and still have, so many great life mentors, it has become important to me to do the same for others.  

Q: This is a remarkably challenging time in higher education. What opportunities do you see for Abington in this landscape? 

Liguori: This is an extraordinary time, but I want to acknowledge the leaders who came before me, here and elsewhere. There have been equally daunting challenges in the past, and higher education survived those thanks to past leaders always advocating for the value of education. While today's challenges look different from the past, the end game is the same: Advocate for the societal value of higher education. Penn State has a long and outstanding reputation as one of the greatest land-grant universities in America. Abington, in its own unique way, must continue to capitalize on that reputation and brand awareness, showing our local community that an investment in Penn State Abington is an investment in each family’s future.  

... An investment in Penn State Abington is an investment in each family’s future

—Gary Liguori , chancellor at Penn State Abington

Q: What qualities in the Abington campus community inspire your optimism about the future? 

Liguori: I have to say the Abington campus community inspired me to join the team! Abington is a special place, and you notice it immediately upon approaching the beautiful setting. You immediately sense the community consensus around Abington’s mission to recruit, retain, and graduate a diverse group of learners, from those who may not typically see themselves in college to Schreyer scholars. Everyone at Abington is all-in on the mission, and you can feel it everywhere. 

Q: What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing Abington and higher education in the next five years? 

Liguori: It may take me five years to go through the list of higher ed challenges!! In no particular order, some of the major issues include rising student debt; the perception — though not the reality! — of the value proposition of a college degree; rapidly increasing mental health issues among students; elected officials wanting more and more control of programming and curriculum; and the annual shrinking of state appropriations, coupled with legislative mandates to NOT raise tuition and the increasing costs of doing business.   

Q: Abington is a hub for first-generation and international students. What is your message to these students? 

Liguori: Keep doing what you're doing, as it seems to be working! Also, please know, with all sincerity, that every faculty, staff and administrator at Abington recognizes you each for your uniqueness, abilities and challenges, and we are here to support you.  

About Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 25 majors, accelerated master's degrees, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.