Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on May 22, 2023, named alumnus Dr. Kelly M. Austin (’04) — a nationally recognized champion for students’ academic success — to serve as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.
As Embry-Riddle’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Dr. Austin’s responsibilities encompass critical areas affecting academic matters and student success at the world’s leading higher education institution focused on aviation, aerospace and research. In particular, he provides leadership related to academic programs, faculty affairs, the Honors Program, the Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence, academic assessments and accreditation, disability support services, library and scholarly communications, academic support, prestigious awards and fellowships, and the Office of the Registrar. Further, Dr. Austin works closely with Embry-Riddle’s Vice President for Research and Doctoral Programs, Dr. Jeremy Ernst, to support faculty research advancements.
Dr. Austin earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, where his dissertation focused on factors affecting the enrollment and persistence of first-generation college students. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in student personnel administration from Slippery Rock University, Austin earned his Master of Business Administration in Aviation (Airline Management) from Embry-Riddle.
Throughout his career, Dr. Austin has helped propel institutions forward through strategic advocacy and a results-oriented approach to leadership.
Career highlights have included increasing retention and graduation rates by 10 percentage points over five years and realizing an actual versus predicted institutional graduation rate that was 12% higher than the predicted value, given the entering student academic profile. Among many other achievements, he launched a scholarship program that provides students with up to $26,000 over four years, and he strengthened strategic partnerships and philanthropic efforts.
Dr. Austin previously served as Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses and Executive Chancellor at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park. In that capacity, he oversaw teaching, research and service missions, and acted as the budget executive for Penn State’s 20 Commonwealth Campuses, which serve some 27,000 students across all degree levels. Before assuming the role of Vice President and Executive Chancellor at Penn State, University Park, Dr. Austin held the title of Associate Vice President for Administration in the Office of the Senior Vice President of Commonwealth Campuses. Earlier, he served as Chancellor at Penn State Schuylkill.
A first-generation college student and a higher education leader for more than two decades, Dr. Austin’s career began in 2001 at Embry-Riddle, where he served as an Education Specialist/Academic Advisor to First-Year Programs, and as a Student Government Association Advisor and Assistant Director of Student Activities.
Dr. Austin’s continuing professional development and education has included the Institute for New Presidents Inaugural Class, offered by the American Council on Education, and the New Business Officers Program of the National Association of College and University Business Officers. He co-authored two higher education (HIED) courses (Foundations in Higher Education and Student Affairs, and Administration and Organization in Higher Education) at Penn State. In 2004, he served as an instructor in what is now the David B. O’Maley College of Business at Embry-Riddle.