Robert J. O’Donnell, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
State College Area School District
Since 2011, Bob has been superintendent of the State College Area School District, leading an educational community consisting of nearly 7,000 students, 11 schools, the Delta Program option for middle and high school levels, and an annual operating budget of approximately $164 million. Under Bob’s direction, SCASD has consistently provided a diverse array of student learning opportunities across the K-12 spectrum. State High students annually perform in the top 5 percent of more than 650 Pennsylvania high schools on the College Board's SAT and become National Merit Scholarship finalists. In the past decade, four State High students also have garnered the rare honor of being named U.S. Presidential Scholars.
With a strong belief in the value of teamwork, Bob has focused on building a culture of collaboration to meet the varied needs of students through advancements in curriculum, pedagogy, student services and facilities. The district continues to be at the forefront of innovative educational experiences for students, including State High becoming an International Baccalaureate World School and expanding its Career and Technical Center offerings to include Cisco and Oracle certification programs. During Bob’s tenure, the Delta Middle Level began as a small-school alternative choice for families. In 2018, following a multi-year planning process, the district launched restructured K-12 student school days to improve daily student learning experiences. This allowed for the introduction of an exciting K-5 STEM curricular program.
In 2017, in collaboration with the Board of Directors, the district developed a School Climate/Inclusive Excellence Policy. Toward this goal, the district hired its first director of equity and inclusivity to help advance more equitable learning and inclusive climates in buildings for all students and employees.
Another historic achievement came in 2014 when the district obtained community permission through a voter referendum to construct a comprehensive high school that includes an integrated career and technical center and a new Delta Program building — only the second time in state history that such a referendum passed. Subsequently, Bob oversaw the construction of three elementary schools that updated or replaced previous buildings, as well as the renovation of the historic Memorial Field stadium in downtown State College.
During Bob’s tenure, the district created the SCASD Education Foundation. An organization focused on enhancing learning opportunities for students beyond the district's normal revenue streams.
Bob has been a champion for charter school legislation reform. SCASD investigated and uncovered practices at the former Wonderland Charter School that failed to provide critical services to students with special needs, leading to the school dissolving. In 2021, he initiated a movement among 11 school districts in three central Pennsylvania counties, creating a joint resolution calling for charter school reform legislation. As part of this effort, he participated in a joint press conference with the state governor requesting bipartisan reform. At present, he serves on the board of Leaders for Educational Accountability and Reform Network (LEARN), a statewide coalition of school superintendents working to secure improvements in both financial and academic accountability in Pennsylvania’s charter school sector. Since 2021, Bob has served as an advisory board member on the Keystone Center for Charter Change.
In his spare time, Bob serves as vice chairman of the board for the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County and is a member of Penn State’s Outreach and Online Education Advisory Board (World Campus). Bob and his wife Lori live in State College with their three children. He earned his degrees from Lehigh University (Ed.D. & M.Ed. in Educational Leadership) and Shippensburg University (B.S. in Secondary Education & B.A. in Mathematics).
Bob began his career in public education as a high school mathematics and computer science teacher in Lititz, PA. He then served as assistant principal in the Hempfield School District, a high school principal in Manheim Township, then assistant superintendent in the Hempfield School District prior to moving to State College.
Lynn Tressler, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and School Board Secretary, can be reached at 814-231-1016 or email@example.com.
Below: Dr. Robert O'Donnell speaks to the media at Park Forest Middle School.