Chown...new chancellor for Penn State York.
Chown...new chancellor for Penn State York.

At first glance, it may seem like there are not a lot of similarities between Upper Iowa University and Penn State York.

David Chown, 66, is leaving Upper Iowa to take over Penn State York as the new chancellor on Feb. 15.

The disparities seem obvious. Upper Iowa is a private, residential college of 7,000 students, set in northern Iowa, where Chown said even Walmarts are scarce at some branch campuses.

Penn State York is a publicly funded commuter branch campus that's part of an 80,000-student university, set near a city and a shopping plaza.

Upper Iowa has Pete the Peacock. It's no Nittany Lion.

Background: But those surface-level differences don't show the background Chown will be bringing with him in his new role after serving as chief academic officer and senior vice president at Upper Iowa since 2009.

Chown, who is married with five grown children, said he has an extensive background developing business programs; he earned his doctorate in business administration at the University of Iowa.

He said he wants Penn State making more connections in York's vast manufacturing community, an area he thinks needs more attention.

Chown also helped work with Upper Iowa's satellite locations in Malaysia and Hong Kong. While Penn State York hasn't hit those markets, it does boast a higher-than-average rate of international students.

Online programs: And Upper Iowa's array of online programs relates to what Chown wants for Penn State York. Online learning can help bring degree programs to students who otherwise wouldn't have access to them in York, he said.

"I don't think that's been explored enough," he said.

More than anything, Chown said he hopes to bring a passion for education that will get to the "core business, which is the students."

The position: He is the fourth person to hold the chancellor's seat in the past four years. He replaces John J. Romano, who came out of retirement a year ago on a temporary basis after then-chancellor Lisa Ann Plowfield unexpectedly resigned after one year. Plowfield had replaced long-time chancellor Joel Rodney.

Chown said he expects to bring some stability to the campus by being visible and eagerly meeting with students so they know who he is.

He didn't have any trepidation about coming to Penn State University, either, regardless of turmoil at the main campus in recent years.

"I know they are a high academic quality institution. That certainly didn't change," Chown said. "I didn't have any concerns at all."

-- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com