Dawn Blasko to step down as Faculty Senate executive director

University to search for new director; applications from faculty encouraged
Dawn Blasko portrait

As executive director of the University Faculty Senate, Dawn Blasko will be responsible for overseeing all functions of the Faculty Senate office and for supporting the senate in the performance of its duties as a representative body of Penn State faculty members.


Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dawn Blasko will be stepping down from her role as executive director of the Penn State Faculty Senate, effective Dec. 31. 

Blasko has served as the senate’s director since 2017, following more than two decades of involvement with the senate as a Penn State Behrend faculty member. She will remain with the University and will return to her position as associate professor of psychology at Penn State Behrend, pursuing research that examines cross-cultural differences in nonliteral languages. 

“Dawn’s experience, knowledge and commitment to shared governance has proven invaluable during her tenure as executive director of the Faculty Senate, during which time she has played a critical role in the senate’s many important accomplishments over the last four years,” said Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones. “We are grateful for all she has accomplished, and Penn State is fortunate to continue to benefit from her expertise as an educator and researcher.”

As senate executive director, Blasko provided comprehensive support to Faculty Senate leadership across all areas of the senate’s work and oversaw the annual election process of senate officers, while also collaborating with campus leadership and administrators, leading the creation of the senate’s annual publications and playing a central administrative role in the senate’s work as a representative and legislative body of the University. 

“It’s been my pleasure to witness Dawn's enthusiasm and dedication to the Senate and its goals of shared governance. She is inspirational in her strong sense that the university functions better from a wide and continuous dialog among its faculty, students and administration,” said Faculty Senate Chair Bonj Szczygiel. “A refreshing optimist, Dawn has shared that spirit through her various leadership roles within Senate over the years; she's been a valuable colleague. We wish her well and thank her for all her significant contributions.”

Blasko said some of the senate’s major accomplishments during her tenure as executive director include the creation and implementation of a new online system for undergraduate petition review designed to make the process more streamlined and accessible to students across the University; the development of a curriculum information management system to allow faculty and staff to propose new undergraduate and graduate courses using a modernized, online process; and extensive efforts to enhance support for faculty governance at all campus locations, including regular meetings with the leadership of college and campus faculty organizations.

“It has been an honor to serve the Penn State Faculty Senate as executive director and to help strengthen the role of shared governance at our University,” Blasko said. “As a body that represents the diverse breadth of faculty across our University, Faculty Senate reflects and celebrates Penn State as one University geographically distributed across our commonwealth, dedicated to excellence in academics, teaching, research, impact and governance.”

In addition to her work with the senate, Blasko has taught a variety of psychology courses at Penn State, co-led embedded study trips to Japan and South Africa and developed Penn State’s first undergraduate general education course on cross-cultural psychology. She has received the Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching, the Achieving Women Award from Penn State’s Commission for Women and a Vision and Passion Award from Penn State Behrend’s Math Options program. 

Blasko’s successor will be determined by a search process, with details to be announced soon.  An interim executive director will also be named to serve while the search is being conducted to provide continuity. The successful candidate will be responsible for overseeing all functions of the senate office, including supervising a staff of five and supporting and facilitating the senate in the performance of its duties.

Candidates are expected to hold a current full-time faculty position at Penn State, and should be able to demonstrate excellent administrative and leadership abilities. Prior experience in the Faculty Senate is preferred. Familiarity with senate and University policies, the curriculum and implementation of new technology are necessary attributes.

Additional details are forthcoming, and an official job posting will be available through the University’s employment website in the near future.