Dr. Charles Patterson was chosen by the Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education to become the 28th president of Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in March 2019 and he assumed office in July 2019. His nearly two decades of service within higher education is diverse, having served as an instructor, dean, foundation executive director and chairperson, vice president for research and economic development, president, and executive within the U.S. Department of Education.
Under his leadership, Mansfield University has embarked on a period of transformation and growth. In just the past two years the university has implemented strategic priorities and an accompanying enrollment management plan resulting in consecutive enrollment increases for fall 2019 (2 percent) and fall 2020 (7.8 percent), effectively ending a prior nine-year enrollment decline dating back to 2010. Strategic enrollment initiatives have allowed the university to decrease the amount of institutional aid from 65.4 percent to 34.5 percent during this same period, while concurrently increasing first-year retention from 73 percent to 78.1 percent during an otherwise difficult pandemic year. To facilitate institutional transformation in an inclusive and transparent manner, President Patterson has established campus shared governance and organizational effectiveness models that broadly incorporate university and community stakeholders as strategic priorities are developed, implemented, and assessed.
President Patterson continues to strengthen the legacy and role of Mansfield University as an anchor institution within the community whose physical presence is integral to the social, civic, cultural, and economic vitality of the community. He serves a visible and active president both on campus and in the community, leading stakeholder events and serving on numerous external boards that enhance university-community relations, the visibility of the institution, and partnerships among community leaders, business leaders, and elected officials.
President Patterson is a member of the State System’s Executive Leadership Group (ELG), comprised of university presidents and the chancellor of the State System for the purpose of effective leadership and management oversight of the State System’s strategies and initiatives for the advancement of System students and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The ELG leverages the existing knowledge and infrastructure of administrative leaders across the System to advance member institutions and the State System. Working with the chancellor, the ELG is supported by four advisory councils comprised of institutional leaders: Administration and Finance Vice Presidents; Chief Academic Officers; Leaders in Student Affairs and Enrollment Management; and the Commission on Faculty Shared Governance. The ELG and each component unit convenes regularly with their counterparts to support mutually beneficial collaboration, effective communication, and informed system-level recommendations for the presidents, chancellor and, ultimately, the Board of Governors.
President Patterson is a passionate and transparent servant leader for the university’s mission and is actively leading university integration efforts for the State System. University integration will reimagine higher education in the Commonwealth and align the institutional resources of three universities in the northeast and three universities in the west. Once complete, integration will expand the delivery of undergraduate and graduate programs across the regions beyond what any single institution might achieve on its own. University integration is student-focused and aims to retain the on-campus experiences, services, and student-faculty interactions that have historically underpinned Mansfield University’s identity, brand, and value proposition.
Prior to joining Mansfield University, President Patterson served as an executive in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), responsible for the development and execution of outreach and engagement efforts with higher education executives across the country and abroad. He also led federal programs focused on the identification of early indicators and development of risk management strategies that address financial stress among colleges and universities. FSA is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation, providing more than $120 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds each year to more than 13 million students attending nearly 6000 colleges and career schools, and manages an outstanding federal student loan portfolio valued at over $1.5 trillion.
As interim president of Georgia Southwestern State University, Dr. Patterson led the university’s efforts to stabilize and grow the university's undergraduate and graduate enrollment, which resulted in a 10 percent increase in the size of the student body during his tenure. He also led the development and implementation of the university's strategic plan, accompanying enrollment management plan, and increased marketing and promotion efforts to enhance institutional branding, enrollment, and fiscal sustainability. Dr. Patterson led fundraising initiatives, including the development of comprehensive campaigns, and has worked alumni, donors, and friends of the university to strengthen important relationships and increase giving. Results included a 75 percent increase in grant and annual giving in 2016 and a stronger culture of recurrent giving. These efforts were recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education as a recipient of the 2017 and 2018 Educational Fundraising Award for overall performance and improvement in educational fundraising, and recognition by the local community through the inaugural Visionary Impact Award provided by the One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, Inc.
As the vice president for research and economic development at Georgia Southern University, Dr. Patterson had a direct role in shaping the institution’s identity and brand as the “Large-Scale, Small-Feel Research University” of Georgia and served as the chief advocate for expanding the university’s scholarly pursuits, representing the university’s priorities to federal and state granting agencies, foundations, and industry leaders. He oversaw the re-assignment of the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center from the Georgia Department of Economic Development to Georgia Southern University pursuant to Senate Bill 396 (2012), passed by the Georgia General Assembly and signed into law by former Governor Nathan Deal. This alignment provided the university with an immediate $10 million (annual) pipeline of industry-driven, applied research capabilities in forestry and advanced manufacturing, which complemented the university’s focus on manufacturing engineering.
He also supported the integration of scholarly pursuits into the university's mission in support of student engagement and academic success. Dr. Patterson led advocacy and fundraising efforts for his division, leading to approximately $10 million in unrestricted and restricted funding. As the executive director and chairperson for the Georgia Southern University Research & Service Foundation, Inc., he was responsible for the with direct administration of $30 million in restricted and unrestricted funding to support students, faculty, and university priorities across all academic disciplines.
President Patterson began his career in higher education at Baylor University. He held dual roles as both an instructor in the Honors College and within central administration. At Baylor, he served a direct role in supporting students and faculty in their research and scholarly pursuits and building the foundation for Baylor’s current aspirations of being recognized as an R1 research university.
President Patterson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from Mississippi State University and his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
He is married to Colleen Patterson and they have one son, Aidan.
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania is a regional comprehensive institution with a strong commitment to affordable and accessible education that fosters social mobility for a diverse population. Mansfield is the Commonwealth’s only university recognized by the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC). Mansfield University students are taught by accomplished faculty that prepare students for careers and advanced studies using student-centered, individualized approaches that reinforce four Core Values that have been a part of the University’s Creed since 1912: Character, Scholarship, Culture, and Service. A residential institution with approximately 75 percent of students living on campus, the University offers 39 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in eight departments within the Colleges of Arts and Humanities and Natural and Social Sciences. The Mansfield University Nursing Program offers a baccalaureate degree in nursing science (BSN) at its Sayre campus, affiliated with the Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania.