Kennesaw State celebrates appointment of Monica Swahn as Dr. Betty L. Siegel Distinguished Chair in Health and Wellness

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 5, 2023

Monica Swahn, dean of Kennesaw State University’s Wellstar College of Health and Human Services, was installed as the inaugural Dr. Betty L. Siegel Distinguished Chair in Health and Wellness on Thursday during a celebration in her honor.

The appointment celebrates Swahn’s nearly three-decade career in public health, both in government and in higher education. 

“A chair position is one of the highest honors and recognitions that you can have as somebody who has accomplished a great deal in their career,” said Kennesaw State President Kathy Schwaig. “We're grateful for those who make this support possible. We're grateful to Monica for her leadership and for her commitment to excellence.” 

Standing L to R: Ivan Pulinkala, Debbie Pike, Lance Burchett, Kathy Schwaig; Sitting: Monica Swahn
Standing L to R: Ivan Pulinkala, Debbie Pike, Lance Burchett, Kathy Schwaig; Sitting: Monica Swahn

The Dr. Betty L. Siegel Distinguished Chair in Health and Wellness recognizes the leadership and record of intellectual achievement of the dean of the Wellstar College. The endowment provides the dean with invaluable support for research, teaching, and the College’s highest-priority initiatives and programs.

The endowment comes from a $1 million donation from Debbie Pike, who made the donation along with partners in a restaurant group she helped found. A KSU Foundation trustee who was close friends with Betty Siegel, Pike said Swahn embodies Siegel’s desire to transform lives through education and advocacy.

“That transformative philosophy connects Dr. Siegel with the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services, with a focus on transforming lives, whole-person wellness, and serving the needs of our community,” Pike said. “With the vision and dedication of Dr. Swahn and her team, the supportive President Schwaig, along with this new endowment, we are convinced that we will all benefit from world-class healthcare in the future, provided by KSU students and graduates.” 

Swahn came to Kennesaw State in 2021 after serving as a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Georgia State University. She previously served as the university’s associate vice president for research and as 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.

Since arriving at Kennesaw State, Swahn has continued her research on public health with ongoing projects in Kampala, Uganda, studying mental health among adolescent girls and young women there. Swahn has said that people are the driving force in all she does, both as Wellstar College’s chief administrator and as a researcher, citing the collaborative nature between KSU leadership and faculty as a key point of the College’s success in the past two years.

“This collaborative and caring culture is not something we can ever take for granted. It must be cultivated and nurtured, and it’s something I treasure every day,” she said. “Of course, I’m also surrounded by a fabulous, talented and very generous team of deans, and I have also been fortunate to put in place a terrific leadership team for our Wellstar College. But all of us share a vision for student success, higher education and service, which is so very powerful and makes KSU such a special place to serve.”

The investiture took place at a ceremony Thursday in the plaza at Prillaman Hall. The ceremony was attended by students, faculty and staff of Wellstar College and the University. Debbie Pike and her husband, Chris, also a KSU Foundation trustee, attended as well, as did Swahn’s family and friends.


-Photos by Judith Pishnery

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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