The Office of the Senior Vice President for Research announced on July 24 that Susan McHale will step down as the director of the Social Science Research Institute. She will continue to head the institute while a search for the next director is conducted.
McHale has served as the SSRI director since 2007. “After more than 13 years at the Institute, the time feels right to hand over the reins to new leadership,” McHale said. “Penn State continues to rank in the top 10 nationally in the social and behavioral sciences, and I believe that the University’s culture of interdisciplinary and support for team science have played a major role in our faculty’s innovative research and its growing translational impacts. That this cultural orientation is pervasive — from the University’s central research offices to our colleges, departments and research centers — is key.”
“I can’t count the number of times visitors and new faculty have expressed to me, ‘everyone talks about interdisciplinary collaboration, but at Penn State you really do it.’ It has been my privilege as SSRI Director to work with an amazing group of faculty and staff to advance the SSRI and other OSVPR Institutes’ mission of science for impact, and I will continue to delight in their accomplishments after the next lucky person steps into the SSRI Director role,” McHale said.
McHale will continue at Penn State as distinguished professor in the Human Development and Family Studies department in the College of Health and Human Development, where she has been a faculty member since 1980. Her research focuses on the roles of gender and culture in family dynamics and youth behavior, health and development. She also will continue to serve as Associate Director of Penn State’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
“The caliber and impact of Susan’s leadership, along with her capacity for developing advances in interdisciplinary social science research, cannot be overstated,” said Lora Weiss, Senior Vice President for Research at Penn State. “Susan is an incredibly talented scholar and an extremely effective leader with the perfect demeanor to lead an interdisciplinary research institute. Her insights, research grasp, and desire to boldly tackle research challenges will be missed. After 40 years at Penn State, she has truly made an impact.”
“We are fortunate that Susan will remain at Penn State, so that the University will not only have a smooth SSRI leadership transition, but we will also continue to benefit from her expertise, research creativity, and teaching,” Weiss said.
During McHale’s tenure, several interdisciplinary and translational research programs were formed and grew into major University research initiatives, among them the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness, the Social, Life and Engineering Sciences Center (SLEIC), the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, and the Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse. SSRI’s co-funded faculty positions also grew from 24 in 2007 to more than 50 presently.