Dr. Levon Esters is dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for graduate education at Penn State. He provides leadership and oversight across all of Penn State’s more than 200 graduate fields of study, including 109 research master’s degree programs, 99 professional master’s degree programs and 95 research doctoral programs. A nationally recognized scholar on mentoring, equity, and diversity in the STEM-based agricultural and life sciences disciplines, he also serves as adjunct professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University.
Prior to joining Penn State in 2023, he served as professor and associate dean for diversity, equity & inclusion and faculty affairs in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University. At Purdue he served as director of the Mentoring@Purdue (M@P) program which was designed to increase the representation of students from marginalized and minoritized backgrounds receiving advanced post-secondary STEM-based agricultural and life sciences degrees in Purdue’s College of Agriculture.
As the Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Partnership Advisor at the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement, Levon leads the Thomas Wyatt Turner Fellowship, a graduate fellowship and faculty mentorship program that promotes collaboration between MSIs and Cornell University.
Levon’s research focuses on issues of educational equity and access to education for marginalized and minoritized students with a concentration on the mentoring needs of Black graduate students; STEM career development of students attending Historically Black Land-grant Colleges and Universities; and educational and professional mobility and development of Black graduate students and faculty. In addition to being selected as a Fulbright Scholar, Levon also serves as a Senior Research Associate at The Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) at Rutgers University which has afforded him opportunities to engage in research related to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Levon earned degrees in Agricultural Business (B.S., Florida A&M University), Agricultural Education (M.S., North Carolina A&T State University) and Agricultural & Extension Education (Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University).