Penn State Berks officially welcomed its sixth leader when Dr. Radha Pyati assumed the role of chancellor and dean of Penn State Berks, effective July 1, 2023, following a national search. Formerly dean of the College of the Sciences and Mathematics at West Chester University, Pyati is an accomplished researcher, teacher, chemist, author, award-winning environmentalist, and a leader in STEM education.
In her role as chancellor and dean, Pyati is responsible for all aspects of college administration, including the quality of academic programs; research; outreach; enrollment and financial aid, student affairs; strategic planning; budgeting; philanthropy; community and alumni relations; and diversity, equity and inclusion. Located near Reading, Penn State Berks has more than 2,100 students and is one of Penn State’s most diverse campuses, with 30% of students identifying as being from underrepresented groups.
Pyati stated, “Penn State is a leader in fostering an environment of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, and I’m very proud to support and enhance that environment. My values align with those of Penn State and the Berks campus, and I am eager to engage on this ongoing effort.”
When asked what her first steps will be in her position, Pyati stated that she wants to meet with various campus constituencies –students, faculty, staff, community members, alumni, donors and friends – to learn more about their thoughts and ideas for Penn State Berks.
While at West Chester University, Pyati was awarded a four-week Fulbright Specialist grant to share chemistry education expertise with the students, faculty and staff at the University of Đà Nẵng – University of Science and Education in Vietnam from December 7 – January 5, 2023. Recipients of Fulbright Specialist awards are selected based on academic and professional achievement, demonstrated leadership in their field, and their potential to foster long-term cooperation between institutions in the U.S. and abroad.
In addition, Pyati founded West Chester’s Center for STEM Inclusion, whose mission is to actively promote diversity and equity initiatives in the College of the Sciences and Mathematics that will increase access to STEM careers for a diverse body of students.
In January 2023, the Center of STEM Inclusion received a $716,000 Community Project Funding state grant for a project titled ‘West Chester University Moon Shot: I Want to STEM (sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics)!’ The I Want to STEM! initiative is linked to West Chester University’s high-profile Moon Shot for Equity mission, which is dedicated to closing equity gaps in student success and defying systemic barriers. Designed by the College of the Sciences and Mathematics Center for STEM Inclusion and Center for Nanomaterials, the I Want to STEM! Initiative is a comprehensive outreach, research, and mentorship program that guides students successfully from elementary school to a bachelor’s degree in STEM.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Pyati to Penn State Berks as the new chancellor and dean,” said David Callejo Pérez, Penn State interim vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor. “She has a proven track record of success as an educator and academic leader. The faculty, staff and students at Penn State Berks will benefit from her experienced leadership. Dr. Pyati deeply understands the essential mission of our Commonwealth Campuses and shares these values of the University — all have which have made her the right person to lead Penn State Berks and the community the campus serves.”
Prior to her role at West Chester, Pyati served as director of the Environmental Center at the University of North Florida, where she was the principal investigator on the State of the River Report for Lower St. Johns River Basin, a report for the public describing water quality, aquatic life, fisheries and contaminants, for which she won the 2018 City of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board Award of Merit. She also served as chemistry department chair, professor of chemistry, president of the Faculty Association and UNF trustee. Previously, Pyati was an associate professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Pyati holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Ohio State University and a doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An accomplished researcher, she has authored more than 40 papers, book chapters, and reports in chemistry and environmental science and participated in over 30 research projects as a principal investigator.
“The history of Penn State Berks and Berks County drew me to this campus,” Pyati stated, “I’m also enthusiastic about the strong connection between the campus and its community. Knitting a public university to its community has been a great source of joy to me, and I look forward to advancing that endeavor.”
Pyati succeeds Dr. George Grant, Jr., who was named president of Saginaw Valley State University this past December. Dr. Todd Migliaccio, associate dean of academic affairs at Penn State Berks, has been filling in as interim chancellor.