Kennesaw State University celebrates Women's History Month

KENNESAW, Ga. | Mar 1, 2022

During March, Kennesaw State University is celebrating Women's History Month. And as KSU works toward becoming one of the top R2 research universities in the country, the impact of women leaders present and past has been instrumental in raising the University's academic standing.

Women's History Month began in 1987 when Congress designated March as a time to recognize the contributions women have made over the course of U.S. history in a variety of fields. 

Kennesaw State recognizes a few of the remarkable women leaders who have brought the University to where it is today.

Kathy Schwaig, Interim President
Kathy Schwaig

Kathy “Kat” Schwaig began as interim president of Kennesaw State University in 2021. Immediately prior to this role, she served as the University’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.  

During her time as interim president, Schwaig oversaw the University as it was for the second time recognized as a doctoral university with high research activity, or R2 university, by the Carnegie Classification of Higher Education.

As provost, Schwaig prioritized efforts that supported student success, including increasing the number of faculty and advisors and eliminating roadblocks to graduation. She worked collaboratively with the campus community to grow the University’s undergraduate and graduate programs, while supporting the Office of Research’s efforts to expand faculty research across the academic colleges. 

Schwaig previously served as the Dinos Eminent Scholar Chair of Entrepreneurial Management, as well as the dean of KSU’s Michael J. Coles College of Business, a position she held from 2012 to 2019. She has held several other leadership roles at KSU, including interim and associate dean, interim department chair for the Department of Accounting, and interim department chair for the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems. Schwaig joined the faculty at KSU in 2002 as an associate professor of information systems. 

In addition to Schwaig leading the University, several colleges are headed by outstanding women leaders. Karen Kornweibel will join Kennesaw State as dean of KSU Journey Honors College in July. Rita Bailey had served as dean of the College since 2016 before retiring in February. Currently Ugena Whitlock serves as interim dean. When she assumes the post, Kornweibel will join female deans leading three of the University’s most high-profile colleges.

Monica Swahn, Dean of the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services
Monica Swahn

Monica Swahn began as dean of the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services in 2021. An internationally renowned scholar and educator, Swahn is the chief academic and administrative officer for the College, responsible for the strategic planning, academic program development and fundraising.

She previously served as a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Georgia State University, and as associate vice president for research and associate dean for research for the College of Health and Human Sciences. Prior to Georgia State, Swahn spent 10 years in several positions within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including the Office of the Chief Science Officer. 

Swahn was a Fulbright Scholar for the sub-Saharan HIV program in Uganda and previously served as the associate director for research for the Injury Prevention Research Center at Emory University. Her main research areas pertain to health risk behaviors and disparities among adolescents and young adults. 

She has been involved in several research projects, including examining the role of alcohol policies in homicide and suicide in the U.S., examining alcohol use and treatment outcomes for breast cancer among women in Nigeria, assessing the structural drivers of sexual violence perpetration among freshmen in Georgia, and developing a social norms campaign to reduce and delay underage drinking and alcohol-related HIV transmissions in East Africa. 

Photo of Robin Cheramie
Robin Cheramie
Robin Cheramie, Dean of the Michael J. Coles College of Business

Robin Cheramie has been dean of the Michael J. Coles College of Business since 2019.

Cheramie worked with the faculty and staff to develop the school’s strategic plan and led the College’s successful reaccreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB).

Prior to becoming dean, she served as the director for the Michael A. Leven School of Management, Entrepreneurship and Hospitality, and chair of the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, where she led the development of the first BBA in Entrepreneurship in the University System of Georgia and initiated the development of the BBA in Hospitality Management. She joined Kennesaw State in 2004 as assistant professor of management and was named professor of management in 2015. 

Cheramie has authored and co-authored papers in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Human Relations, Journal of Managerial Psychology, Career Development International, and International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management. 

Catherine Kaukinen, Dean of the Norman J. Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Photo of Catherine Kaukinen
Catherine Kaukinen

Catherine (Katie) Kaukinen began as dean of the Norman J. Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences in January, after previously serving as a professor and chair in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida.

Kaukinen is a dedicated researcher, examining aspects of violence against women, such as the long-term consequences of the violence; victim coping, resilience and decision-making; the history of Title IX and federal initiatives to address violence against college women; and the evaluation of campus-based prevention and intervention programs. The multiple grants she has received include more than $1 million from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women, to develop a multi-campus intervention and prevention program.

Kaukinen twice has shared her expertise with the United Nations, most recently as a speaker for the U.N.’s Global Forum on Gender Statistics. She also collaborated with other experts to compile a report for the Council on Criminal Justice outlining the nation’s domestic violence trends during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These leaders are building upon the work of a woman who was a pioneer at Kennesaw State and within the University System of Georgia.

Betty Siegel, past President of Kennesaw State University
Photo of Betty Siegel
Betty Siegel

Betty L. Siegel’s name will forever be synonymous with Kennesaw State University. From her signature red spectacles to the Dr. Betty L. Siegel Student Recreation and Activities Center, Siegel left an indelible mark on the University.

Siegel, who passed away in 2020, was Kennesaw State’s second president and the first woman to serve as a president in the University System of Georgia.

When she arrived on campus in September of 1981, the institution was a small state college with an enrollment of 3,500 students, only a handful of buildings and no master’s programs. During Siegel’s 25-year tenure, the University’s enrollment increased and the faculty and staff ranks grew, as did the number of degree programs and academic buildings. Upon her retirement in 2006, a 15-degree college had become a university with 55 undergraduate and graduate degrees and 18,000 students.

Siegel’s desire to build campus traditions and to care about students outside the classroom was manifested in the creation of Kennesaw State’s first intercollegiate athletic teams in 1982.

She once remarked that she wanted Kennesaw State to be a “university that matters, not just for what we teach, but how we teach people to live the good life, which is a life of service.”

She became an educational pioneer with a long list of firsts on her resume: first female dean at the University of Florida (1971); first female academic dean at Western Carolina University (1976); and the first female president in the University System of Georgia (1981).

– Scott Wiltsee

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 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