Former Resident To Head Virginia College
Cornelius, who grew up in Fulton and neighboring Huntingdon County, currently serves as secretary of Community and Economic Development (DCED) for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where he oversees a department of approximately 350 employees and 90 state and federal programs and works closely with many of Pennsylvania’s universities, colleges and communities. He has been an avid proponent of postsecondary education and training, which he regards as essential in a world fundamentally changed by technology and globalization.
Cornelius became acting DCED secretary a year ago. He will step down on June 30 to become Bridgewater’s president.
In a released statement Judge G. Steven Agee, Bridgewater College trustee and chair of the search committee, said, “Our national search has led us to an individual of extraordinary experience, achievement and commitment to excellence.”
Prioir to joining Gov. Ed Rendell’s cabinet, Cornelius, a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and who holds a juris doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Penn State Dickinson School of Law, was president and CEO of Arkema Inc., a diversified international chemical company based in Philadelphia with operations throughout the Americas, sales of more than $2 billion and more than 2,000 employees. Before that, he served as vice president and general counsel of ATOFINA (predecessor to Arkema Inc.) and earlier, was a partner at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, a national law firm based in Pittsburgh.
Cornelius’ civic and community service has included leadership fundraising roles with United Way and Penn State and various church-related teaching and leadership roles. He also was responsible for management of the Arkema Foundation and has sat on various boards.
Cornelius said in the released statement that he found the Bridgewater opportunity attractive because it combined his passion for education and his interest and abilities in organizational leadership and development.
“It’s a rare privilege and responsibility to join such a vibrant community of scholars, students and staff that is committed to academic excellence, the liberal arts tradition and strong values,” said Cornelius.
A lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, Cornelius and his wife, Susan, have two adult sons who are married and living in Indianapolis and Portland, Ore.