PNW community celebrates start of Chancellor Chris Holford’s leadership
Chancellor Holford and President Chiang commend PNW’s rising prominence
Kenneth C. (Chris) Holford says he is still soaking in the excitement of taking the helm as the new chancellor of Purdue University Northwest (PNW).
An outpouring of cheers, congratulations and well wishes were shared by PNW students, faculty and staff, as well as by Purdue University President Mung Chiang and Purdue Trustee Malcolm DeKryger, during leadership celebrations to mark the beginning of Holford’s administration.
Holford shared he felt a bit emotional amid all the support expressed before and during the leadership celebrations held at PNW’s Hammond and Westville campuses. He has served nearly 25 years at the Purdue Northwest campuses, starting as a Biology faculty member and advancing to various administrative roles.
“I am immensely proud to be associated with Purdue Northwest,” said Holford. “I am proud to be part of a faculty that cares so deeply about the success of our students. I think that is something that is foundational to this institution, and we should always be reminded of why we are here — to help our students succeed in higher education and become good constituents of the world.”
Under the banner of “Excellence Evolving,” Holford and Chiang praised PNW’s major successes that have elevated its reputation nationally. As a biologist familiar with how species evolve in their environments amid change, Holford said PNW has adapted and earned a strong position in the higher education landscape.
I am proud to be part of a faculty that cares so deeply about the success of our students. I think that is something that is foundational to this institution, and we should always be reminded of why we are here — to help our students succeed in higher education and become good constituents of the world.
Holford lauded several recent accomplishments, including affirmation as a doctoral-granting institution by the Higher Learning Commission, consecutive years of record totals in sponsored research, and community-facing and impactful academic research centers in several key disciplines.
“I have seen considerable levels of change over the years, and we have consistently adapted to challenges while maintaining a student focus,” Holford said. “We are a regional leader in workforce and economic development that serves the constituents of Northwest Indiana. Applied research has helped transform our institution into something much greater that is earning a national reputation.”
Holford and Chiang both emphasized PNW’s involvement in major industrial and economic projects, including U.S. Department of Energy-funded decarbonization research and the MachH2 Hydrogen Hub, the Quantum Corridor and the Roberts Impact Lab. They also highlighted PNW’s recognition as Indiana’s third Innovation and Economic Prosperity University.
You are also part of a vibrant, growing Northwest Indiana region. I can feel the momentum, growth and opportunities.
“We are at the crossroads of initiatives that are of national importance,” Holford said. “PNW’s involvement and our geographical location have made us a national player. All of this translates back to serving our student body. Our students will have opportunities to participate in cutting edge projects and receive the type of training that will make them valuable employees across the nation. We are here to best serve students in Northwest Indiana and provide them the best education possible.”
“Purdue Northwest is an essential part of the Purdue family,” Chiang added. “You are also part of a vibrant, growing Northwest Indiana region. I can feel the momentum, growth and opportunities. We cannot think of a better leader who understands that and who will help lead transformation for the entire region than Chancellor Holford.
“It is not easy to be a regional institution with so much momentum and upward trajectory. It is not easy to be a regional institution with a national impact and brand. If you are a member of this community, you should feel a strong sense of pride — the pride that I personally share as well.
“I always say that a regional university has to be agile, have specialties and have partnerships so that the community and university will go together to the next level. It is ‘who’ before ‘what.’ It takes leadership and determination to say, ‘let us go to the next level together.’”
Holford assumed the role of chancellor of PNW effective Jan. 8, 2024. He previously served as provost and vice chancellor of Academic Affairs at Purdue Northwest since May 2020 where he provided leadership for the six academic colleges, as well as oversight of the Office of Commercialization and Research, Office of Institutional Research, Center for Faculty Excellence and the Office of Academic and Student Success. Holford also previously served as the founding dean of the College of Engineering and Sciences since the formation of PNW in 2016, as well as dean of the College of Sciences and chair of the department of Biology and Chemistry at the former Purdue North Central.