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Dr. Kenneth Hawkinson

Dr. Kenneth HawkinsonThe Board of Governors of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education unanimously selected Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson to be the next president of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, on March 17, 2015.  He began his presidential tenure at KU on July 1, 2015.  He leads an institution that serves approximately 9,200 students with 160 programs of study.

Dr. Hawkinson came to Kutztown from Western Illinois University, where he most recently served as provost from 2012-15.  He was hired there in 1988 as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication. He also is a former military officer, having served in the U.S. Army as both an infantry officer and a public affairs officer. 

As provost at Western Illinois, Dr. Hawkinson was responsible for areas including university planning, fiscal and enrollment management, curriculum and contract negotiations. He implemented significant changes to the university's First Year Experience program, which resulted in a nearly 10 percent increase in the fall-to-spring retention rate. He met weekly with the Faculty Senate and other faculty governance bodies, as well as with departments, other campus groups and student government, and participated in "town hall" meetings at the college and university levels. 

Dr. Hawkinson earned his bachelor's degree in history from Western Illinois. He also has a Master of Arts in speech communication from the institution and a Ph.D. in speech communication/performance studies from Southern Illinois University. He was a Fulbright scholar from 1990-91, during which he taught American studies at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in West Africa, and conducted research in African folklore and oral tradition. He also served for two years as a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Mali. 

About Dr. Hawkinson


  • Ph.D. Southern Illinois University, 1986 (Speech Communication/Performance Studies)
  • M.A. Western Illinois University, 1979  (Speech Communication)
  • B.A. Western Illinois University, 1978 (History)
  • A.A. Elgin Community College, 1976

Professional History

  • President, Kutztown University, 2015-
  • Provost and Academic Vice President, Western Illinois (WIU), 2012-15
  • Interim Provost, WIU, 2011
  • Associate Provost and Vice President for Budget, Planning and Personnel, WIU, 2007-11
  • Associate Dean, College of Fine Arts and Communication, WIU, 2005-07
  • Department Chair, Communication, WIU, 1997-2007
  • Assistant, Associate, Full Professor, Communication, WIU, 1988-97
  • Fulbright Scholar, University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (West Africa), 1991
  • Volunteer Professor, Peace Corps, 1986-88
  • Officer, United States Army, 1979-82

Prior to his appointment as provost at Western Illinois, Dr. Hawkinson served the university for four years as associate provost and associate vice president for budget, planning and personnel, where he oversaw all aspects of academic affairs, including contract administration, summer session and curriculum. Previously, he was associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication and chair of the Department of Communication. 

Dr. Hawkinson began his academic career at Western Illinois as an assistant professor of communication, and later was promoted to associate, then full professor. He also was an adjunct professor in African American Studies and an instructor in the Honors Program. During his time on the faculty, he served as leader of both the Faculty Senate and the faculty union. He has published numerous articles and dozens of professional papers.His research interests and creative pursuits include storytelling, oral tradition and performance of literature. Among his many dramatic presentations was a 2009 performance titled "Abe Lincoln," given at the Western Illinois Museum in honor of Lincoln's 200th birthday. 

Dr. Hawkinson was in the U.S. Army for three years. After serving in the Illinois National Guard as a field artillery officer and executive officer for a field artillery battery, he joined the Army as an Infantry officer. He served in Germany as a platoon leader and a weapons platoon leader and as a public affairs officer.