By Emily Leayman
Members of the campus from students to administrators to faculty welcomed the 12th KU president, Dr. Kenneth Hawkinson, on March 17 in the McFarland Student Union Building.
The selection resulted from a unanimous decision by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of
Governors, according to a press release. Hawkinson will assume the position on July 1. Acting president Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto will leave the position on June 30 to become president at Southeast Missouri State University.
In attendance were Hawkinson’s wife, Ann Marie, Jack Wabby, KU Council of Trustees and Presidential Search Committee chair, Guido Pichini, Board of Governors chair and KU Council of Trustees member, PASSHE Chancellor Frank Brogan and Student Government Board President Joe Scoboria.
While introducing Hawkinson at the forum, Wabby said that there were an “excellent” variety of candidates.
“We are fortunate to have selected a candidate of such high caliber,” he said.
Wabby introduced Hawkinson, who then gave an overview of his goals for the university and how intention to begin talking with campus members from the start.
“Beginning on July 1, I’ll spend the subsequent months meeting and speaking with many members of the KU university community…Together we will build on the firm foundation… that so many students, faculty, administrators, legislative leaders and other stakeholders have built over the many years of KU’s history. Together we will identify the challenges before us and then, together, we will get things done.”
Scoboria, also a search committee member, spoke briefly and presented Hawkinson with a gift basket from KU students.
“In this time of transition and change, not only at Kutztown University, but across our State System, we’ve entrusted Dr. Hawkinson to lead us for the years to come,” said Scoboria.
Hawkinson thanked him, he said, “I look forward to working with the student government and all of the students in the coming years.”
The introduction ceremony ended with the KU Marching Unit performing the alma mater, and attendees had the opportunity to meet Hawkinson afterward.
Hawkinson is currently the provost of Western Illinois University, according to a press release. He held that position since 2012, while also serving the university as associate provost, vice president for budget planning and personnel, and a professor. For three years, he was an infantry officer and public affairs officer in the U.S. Army.
Dr. Paul Quinn, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, who has been vocal about the flaws in the presidential search process, is looking forward to working with the new president. Hawkinson himself was a faculty union leader at Western Illinois.
“It’s a new era. It’s a transition. I think transition is good,” Quinn said. “The union is going to work with this guy to make the university better.”
Quinn was the faculty union’s representative for the search committee, but he was removed for breaking the search’s confidentiality policy created by the Board of Governors.
Matthew Kuna, a student that attended the announcement, said, “I think we had excellent candidates come forward. I hope that Dr. Hawkinson will bring his many diverse experiences to…KU, and from those experiences, he will be able to make positive changes.”
SGB Vice President Tessa Patton is graduating before Hawkinson starts, but she is confident that her fellow SGB representatives will do everything they can to work with Hawkinson.
“I think he comes from a really good background and will really understand what the students are going through,” she said.