Dr. Ralph Ford, chancellor of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, has more than 25 years of leadership experience in higher education and industry.
As Penn State Behrend’s chief academic and administrative officer, Dr. Ford has responsibility for all teaching, research, and outreach programs and activities of the college as well as overall campus operations, including strategic planning, human resources, enrollment management, fundraising, marketing, alumni and community relations, and intercollegiate athletics.
Dr. Ford joined Penn State Behrend in 1994 as a faculty member in electrical and computer engineering, subsequently serving as department chair. In 2005, he was named director of the School of Engineering. During his ten years as director, he led growth in school enrollment and the creation of a number of new academic programs and research centers. Under his leadership, the School of Engineering increased its national visibility as reflected in its rankings as one of the top 50 undergraduate engineering schools by U.S. News & World Report.
In 2013, while still director of the School of Engineering, Dr. Ford assumed additional duties as associate dean for industry and external relations for the college. In this role, he coordinated the college’s open-laboratory model of industry-academic collaboration, which matches students and faculty members with private-sector partners for experiential student learning, applied research, and advanced product development. He also oversaw the college's strategic partnership with Knowledge Park, now home to 20 companies employing more than 500 people, including numerous graduates and student interns of the college.
Dr. Ford was named chancellor of Penn State Behrend on January 7, 2016. He had served as interim chancellor since July 1, 2015.
Dr. Ford is the author of more than 40 publications, including the book, Design for Electrical and Computer Engineers (McGraw Hill). In 2005, he was a Fulbright Scholar to Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic. He is a past vice president and past member of the board of directors of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the largest technical professional society in the world.
Prior to joining Penn State Behrend, Dr. Ford worked at IBM Microelectronics developing computer vision systems for semiconductor inspection and at Brookhaven National Laboratory on the strategic defense initiative. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Clarkson University and master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Arizona.
Dr. Ford and his wife, Melanie, a lecturer in computer science and software engineering and director of the college’s Youth Education Outreach Office, are the parents of two sons, Alexander and Ryan.