December 8, 2023

Purdue University names Chris Holford as next chancellor of Purdue University Northwest

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue University Board of Trustees on Friday (Dec. 8) ratified the appointment of Kenneth C. “Chris” Holford as chancellor of Purdue University Northwest, effective Jan. 8, 2024.

Holford has served since May 2020 as PNW’s provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs. As provost, he has prioritized the quality of the student experience, the importance of developing a highly trained workforce and the enrichment of the regional community. He has emphasized the importance of academic and research quality at PNW, leading to a tripling of sponsored research activity at the institution over the past three years.

A professor of biology, Holford has served the PNW campuses for more than 20 years, previously as founding dean of the College of Engineering and Sciences since PNW’s formation in 2016. He also was dean of the College of Sciences and chair of the Department of Biology and Chemistry at the former Purdue North Central, which is now the Westville, Indiana, branch campus of PNW. Holford earned a PhD in biology from Illinois State University, a master’s in zoology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Augustana College.

Purdue President Mung Chiang recommended Holford’s appointment following a national search. Chiang was advised by a search committee led by Purdue trustee Malcolm DeKryger with representation from PNW students, faculty, staff and alumni. Hundreds of PNW community members participated in the process through listening sessions with the committee, open forums with three final candidates and surveys to offer input.

“I am excited and delighted that Dr. Chris Holford will serve as the next chancellor of Purdue University Northwest,” Chiang said. “He is widely respected for innovation and success over the past couple of years in the region and has deep roots in both campuses of PNW. In his roles as provost and dean, Chris has emphasized the importance of academic and research quality, while prioritizing the quality of the student experience, the importance of developing a highly trained workforce, and the enrichment of the regional community and economic growth. He is ideally qualified to lead during a time of significant advancement for Purdue Northwest and transformative opportunities for the northwest region of our state.”

Recently PNW was elevated by the Higher Learning Commission to a doctoral-granting institution, coinciding with the approval of PNW’s third applied doctoral program, a Doctor of Psychology. PNW will officially be designated next year as a Hispanic-serving institution, with more than 25% of undergraduates who identify as Hispanic or Latino served by a dedicated team and resources. PNW researchers are playing major roles in the advancement of the Midwest Hydrogen Hub, the Quantum Corridor and steel decarbonization. Meanwhile, PNW is working toward opening the Roberts Impact Lab, which will contribute to regional commercialization and business expansion, and is supporting the South Shore Line Double Track, which will improve public transportation in northwest Indiana. In recognition of its contributions to regional economic development, PNW recently was named the third Innovation and Economic Prosperity University in Indiana by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

“I am honored to have been given this opportunity by President Chiang and the Board of Trustees, and proud to be able to expand on the outstanding work we have been doing at Purdue Northwest,” Holford said. “Our faculty and staff remain focused on excellence in teaching, passionate about helping students succeed and dedicated to serving the communities in our metropolitan region. Our collective goal will be to sustain and enrich an environment where our students can thrive in their pursuits inside and outside the classroom. Similarly, I am excited to have this opportunity to build upon our successes in applied research and to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation to ensure PNW remains a leader in regional economic development and workforce development. Together we will continue to build upon our forward momentum and have a positive impact on our students and our communities.”

About Purdue University Northwest

Purdue University Northwest is a premier metropolitan university dedicated to empowering transformational change in our students and in our community. Located in northwest Indiana, near Chicago, PNW values academic excellence, supports growth and celebrates diversity. For more information about PNW, visit

Media contact, Purdue: Tim Doty,

Media contact, PNW: Kale Wilk,, 219-989-2096

Sources: Mung Chiang

Chris Holford

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