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A coach has been chosen to pinch-hit as interim chancellor at Penn State University’s Fayette County campus.

Sandy Smith, 47, will oversee the Eberly Campus until a permanent replacement is named for outgoing Chancellor Gregory Gray, who served for eight years. He will leave Thursday to become president of Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus.

Smith coached the women’s softball team at Penn State-Fayette last year. She also serves as director of student and enrollment services, overseeing most aspects of student life on campus.

Smith, a native of Indiana County who has a doctorate in sports management from Ohio State University, came to Penn State-Fayette 15 years ago.

She taught at the school for eight years, earning tenure as an associate professor before moving into administration in a number of areas, including a term as athletic director. She also served as leader of the school’s diversity task force.

“I worked on the academic side of the house and the student-affairs side,” Smith said.

John Romano, vice president of the Commonwealth College System –19 PSU campuses that includes Penn State-Fayette –said Smith has “a great deal of strengths.”

Smith assumes her new responsibilities next Friday. She said she would “come in as a lamb,” rather than a lion, building on Gray’s legacy.

Smith, of Monessen, Westmoreland County, coached volleyball at Ringgold High School, as well as volleyball and softball at Elizabeth Forward High School, while working at Penn State-Fayette.

Penn State-Fayette has about 1,100 students and 130 staff, which Smith likely will lead for at least a semester.

Smith said she has received strong support from her colleagues.

“It’s nice being a veteran here,” she said.

Romano said that “in an ideal world,” a national search might find a new chancellor by spring.

Smith said she has not made any decisions about applying for the permanent position.

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