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George ‘Jody’ Harpster to be temporary leader of Shippensburg University for second time

11 April 2013 No Comment


George “Jody” Harpster will serve as interim president of Shippensburg University for the second time, starting May 31.


The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors named Harpster to the position during its regular monthly meeting Thursday in Harrisburg. The appointment followed a recommendation from the SU Council of Trustees, according to a statement from council President B. Michael Schaul.

An SU alumnus and member of its administration since 1995, Harpster is SU’s executive vice president for external affairs and government relations. He previously served as interim president between former SU President Tony Ceddia’s retirement in June 2005 and President Bill Ruud’s arrival in February 2007.

“Jody’s knowledge, commitment and long-term support to our university are without question as he follows in the footsteps of presidents Ruud and Ceddia,” Schaul said in a statement.

Harpster was not available for comment Thursday due to a previously scheduled commitment, but in a prepared statement he said he is proud to again serve as interim president and appreciates “the confidence and trust shown in me by our Council of Trustees, by the Board of Governors and by the campus community.”

“The strength of the university is the collaboration among all parts of the campus and I look forward to working with everyone as we all strive to continue to make Shippensburg a leader in education and service in the region,” he stated.

Prior to his service at SU, Harpster held several leadership positions over more than a decade at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He holds holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Juniata College, a master’s degree in counseling and college student personnel administration from SU and a Ph.D. in adult and higher education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ruud will take over the presidency at the University of Northern Iowa on June 1. The university’s Board of Regents announced the appointment in early February.

Although he was a finalist to become president at North Dakota State University in 2010 and Bowling Green State University in 2011, Ruud led SU for a year longer than a five-year commitment he made to the Council of Trustees at the start of his service, Schaul said in February.

The PASSHE Board of Governors approved a resolution Thursday honoring Ruud for his contributions to SU. Noted highlights of his tenure include the expansion of graduate programs and initial development of a new Academic Master Plan; the completion of many campus improvement projects including the renovation and expansion of Ceddia Union Building, and ongoing construction of residence halls; and his direct help in increasing the stature of SU through service in many national and regional organizations and in expanding community outreach opportunities with the establishment of a free community counseling clinic and cooperation with local municipalities in planning and regional development ventures.

There will be a national search to find candidates for the permanent presidency position. The process will begin with the SU Council of Trustees and a final decision will be made by the PASSHE Board of Governors.

President’s house to get an interior facelift
No matter who the next president of Shippensburg University is, he or she will have what is essentially a new house to live in.

At their meeting Thursday, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors said up to $650,000 can be used to renovate the Martin House, which has been the home of every SU president since Samuel Martin — the seventh “principal” of what was then Cumberland Valley State Normal School — oversaw its construction in 1907, according to the SU website.

That price tag is only the limit and is the same applied to similar projects, said PASSHE spokesperson Kenn Marshall. The actual price is not known yet.

The structure will undergo a complete renovation, Marshall said. The extensive work means the building will also need to be brought into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act.

“Basically you will have the equivalent of a new house, but it will still be a historic house,” he said.

Because it is on the National Register of Historic Places, there are strict guidelines that must be followed, Marshall said.

PASSHE deemed the time between the departure of President Bill Ruud in late May and the arrival of the next president at a yet-to-be-determined date as the best time to complete renovations to the Martin House, Marshall said. As interim president, George “Jody” Harpster will not live there.

The Martin House was the fourth of the five original buildings on campus, according to the website. A design proposal came with a price of $6,009 — $9 more than the limit the financing and planning committee had set. Later records show the final cost was about $9,000.

Amber South can be reached at asouth@publicopinionnews.com and 262-4771.

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