PNW’s Founding Chancellor

Thomas L. Keon, Ph.D.

Tom Keon

Chancellor Emeritus Thomas Keon led Purdue University Northwest to unprecedented advancement and recognition. Through his vision and transformational leadership, PNW progressed to become a doctoral degree-granting institution contributing significant impact to the Northwest Indiana economy.

About Thomas L. Keon

Thomas L. Keon, Ph.D., was a force for positive change in the region throughout his service as Chancellor of Purdue University Northwest (2016-2024) and as Chancellor of Purdue University Calumet (2011-2016). Under his leadership, PNW’s annual impact to the Northwest Indiana regional economy was nearly $746 million and supported one out of every 36 jobs in the region.

He was influential in securing Northwest Indiana’s $50 million award from the state of Indiana toward the “Ignite the Region” plan for regional transformation, including $5 million that will go toward an impact lab he has championed to further entrepreneurship and innovation. That funding is further supported by a $3 million gift from a PNW alumnus to establish the Roberts Impact Lab at PNW. He continues to help lead the development and implementation of the Roberts Impact Lab at PNW.

At Purdue Northwest, Chancellor Keon drove the expansion of graduate education to
include doctoral programs in nursingtechnology, and psychology – all critically needed areas to serve regional workforce demand. He led successful building and expansion projects that changed the landscape of the university’s campuses, including the state-of-the-art Nils K. Nelson Bioscience Innovation Building, the Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center, the David Roberts Center for Innovation and Design, the PNW Design Studio-Where Ideas Flow, the White Lodging Professional Selling Lab, the PNW Community Counseling Center, and a new central quad bell tower.

A first-generation college student himself from a background of modest means, Chancellor Keon has been committed throughout his career to cultivating, supporting and strengthening leadership among students, faculty, and staff in higher education institutions. He is a longtime advocate of engaged partnerships between universities and communities. In Northwest Indiana he continues to take on active leadership roles with One Region and the Northwest Indiana Forum.

Among his many awards, Chancellor Keon has been named a Sagamore of the Wabash, one of the highest civilian honors bestowed by a sitting governor of Indiana, and has been recognized nationally for his commitment to diversity and inclusion. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Bentley University (Boston, Mass.), a M.Ed. in Philosophical Foundations of Education from Suffolk University (Boston, Mass.), an MBA in Management from Babson College (Wellesley, Mass.) and his Ph.D. in Management from Michigan State University.