KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 16, 2021
Pamela Whitten has announced that she will be stepping down as president of Kennesaw State University and has accepted the position of president of Indiana University, effective July 1, 2021.
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia named Dr. Whitten as the fifth president of KSU in June of 2018, following a national search. Prior to her work at KSU, she served as senior vice president for academics and provost at the University of Georgia.
“The opportunity to serve as president of Kennesaw State University over the past three years has been one of the highlights of my career,” Whitten said. “I am honored to have served alongside a dedicated group of faculty and staff who each day deliver on the promise of putting our students first. KSU is a tremendous institution providing world class instruction, and I am proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved during my tenure.”
“President Pam Whitten’s outstanding leadership helped KSU over the past few years achieve record-breaking enrollment, historic funding for student scholarships and an R2 research designation that places it among a select group of colleges and universities in the nation,” University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley said. “Her unwavering commitment to improve students’ experience and academic success made a direct impact on the quality of education at KSU, including hiring more faculty and advisors to support students’ achievement of a college degree. Pam never hesitated in helping her colleagues across the system and is a valued friend, and I will miss her good counsel. We are grateful for her service to our students and the University System of Georgia and wish her well.”
Accomplishments during Dr. Whitten’s presidency include addressing barriers to enrollment and graduation that led to two straight years of record growth with the number of undergraduate and graduate students increasing from 35,500 in fall 2018 to over 41,000 in fall 2020. This growth also included an increase in racial diversity, with self-identified minority students making up 48.7% of the student body in 2020, up from 43.1% in 2017. She led the creation and expansion of high demand majors such as cybersecurity, engineering, computer science and nursing and oversaw a significant faculty hiring initiative to address student demand for these and other critical courses.
Whitten also was instrumental in securing pivotal gifts and financial support that will directly benefit students for years to come. In just the last 16 months, KSU was the beneficiary of three of the largest gifts in university history: $10 million for the KSU Journey Honors College, $8.7 million from Wellstar Health System to double the number of KSU nursing majors and $9 million to name the Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition, through the creation of the new GAP Scholarship, students with financial challenges in their final semester are provided aid in order to help them earn their degree. Since 2018, over 900 GAP scholarship recipients have graduated.
During Whitten’s tenure, KSU acquired formal status as an R2 institution and she has led the transition to develop broad research themes, set research goals and expand the university focus on undergraduate research participation. In FY20 alone, KSU saw a 15% increase in externally funded grants and a 37% increase in external proposals.
Whitten provided critical leadership during the extraordinary challenges faced by KSU through the coronavirus pandemic, preparing and implementing plans to move the institution to fully remote instruction in the spring of 2020. Since that time, Whitten has directed the efforts of multiple advisory committees tasked with preparing the university for a post-pandemic return to learning in Fall 2021.
During her tenure, Whitten also took concrete steps to identify and augment diversity opportunities across campus. These included the elevation of the chief diversity officer to the President’s Cabinet, the development of specific programs such as student diversity ambassadors, diversity liaisons in each college and a new Women’s Leadership Academy to help develop the university leaders of the future. Whitten also created a Presidential Task Force on Race to develop recommendations that will bring elevated priority and urgency to the university’s goal of an inclusive and diverse campus.
With the announcement of Whitten’s departure, the chancellor and Board of Regents will discuss next steps.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.