Spring Semester 2024 Update and Welcome from President Hawkinson

Dear KU Campus Community,

Welcome back for the 2024 spring semester. I hope you had an enjoyable winter break.

I want to extend my appreciation to you all for an outstanding fall, which culminated with our commencement ceremonies last month. Together, we continue to champion the fundamental values of higher education, while positioning Kutztown University for a bright future.

We are very proud of all the accomplishments of our university and the KU family, whether in the classroom, on the stage or athletic venues, or through participation in our many vibrant student life activities. I hope you will take a few moments to review the list of some of the fall highlights on our Points of Pride webpage.

The beginning of a new semester is also an excellent time to provide you with some important updates.

Last semester, I continued to meet with numerous units and attend many outstanding events on campus. This included interactions with several outside groups, individuals, and alumni. Ann Marie and I were excited and pleased to resume the hosting of numerous events at our university residence and various on and off campus sites – all 900+ employees are invited to visit the President’s Residence each year. We continue to be very proud of the first-floor display at the President’s House, which celebrates the talent and scholarship of our faculty. This includes the recently installed ninth faculty art show.

I know we must all work hard to ensure a strong new class, as well as student retention for next fall. It is important to continue to work together to support each other and be vigilant regarding the well-being of our students. Last fall, we welcomed 2,237 new degree-seeking students for the 2023-24 academic year, including an all-time high in incoming freshman GPA and new student diversity, and the first increase in overall full-time equivalent (FTE) students since 2010.

A focal point in the university’s strategic plan is the commitment to a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible environment. Together, we have ensured that our recruiting efforts have been enhanced in urban areas, while providing scholarships and other initiatives to support students from diverse backgrounds. KU now has the highest number of diverse students in its first-year class in the history of the university at 31%, while the overall diversity of the student body remains steady at 25%.

While we continue to have challenges, our overall financial situation is stronger than it has been in many years. We have remained focused on our finances and balancing our budget without the use of cash reserves for the sixth consecutive year, while significantly increasing student support.

Next month, we welcome Dr. Stephen St. Onge as our new vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.  Dr. St. Onge brings a wealth of experience to campus, including 10 years serving as a vice president.  He plans on spending time on-boarding with staff and meeting with students upon his arrival.  He will also be working with advisory groups to enhance the student experience.

We recently held dedications of the new Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research and the Nancy Jean Stump Seiger ’54 Botanical Research Center. We also dedicated the renovated de Francesco Building, home of our College of Business, broke ground on the new Admissions/Welcome Center at the location of Poplar House and rededicated the Marlin and Regina Miller Art Gallery. Planning has also begun for the renovation of Keystone Hall, the home to Golden Bear Athletics. These new and renovated facilities further enhance what is arguably the best campus grounds in the State System and the entire commonwealth.

We also had a record-setting comprehensive campaign completed by the KU Foundation, that greatly exceeded the $40 million goal. It is humbling, but not surprising, that so many of our benefactors want to invest in our students and strongly believe in a Kutztown University education.

We had a historical season for fall athletics. Golden Bear field hockey captured the institution’s first-ever NCAA national title in November, while our football team won the division, conference and regional titles, advancing to the NCAA Division II final four in Colorado in December.  Women’s soccer also made a return to the NCAA playoffs, advancing to the second round of play. 

As always, our faculty continue to impress with their scholarly and creative activities, including grants received, journal articles and books published, creative works selected for display at festivals and exhibitions, and many examples of research and creative activity in collaboration with students.  We have nine tenure-track searches currently occurring across our four academic colleges. Two of those positions are for tenure-track faculty with research and/or teaching expertise in diversity and identity, the theme for the 2024-25 Frederick Douglass Institute (FDI) Scholar cluster hiring group. These faculty will join other FDI Scholars that were hired in the same program and were part of the incoming faculty group in fall ’23. I look forward to continuing to work with our talented faculty and welcoming our new faculty members in the fall. Of note, KU faculty totaled nearly 200 special recognitions, professional conferences and delivery of professional presentations and publications in 2023.

KU continues its commitment to providing accessible programs, services, activities, as well as reasonable accommodations to students, faculty and staff. Consistent with the national average, more than 12% of all students at Kutztown University are registered with the Disability Services Office (DSO) for academic, housing and/or dining accommodations. Additionally, the DSO provides numerous training opportunities for faculty and staff regarding the implementation of academic accommodations, creating accessible classroom materials, and more. Our DSO also facilitates the renowned My Place Program, which provides enhanced support services to students on the Autism Spectrum. In addition to services and training offered by the DSO, all KU employees receive annual training on non-discrimination and non-harassment of members of all protected classes, including persons with disabilities.

In closing, there is a quote I share at the end of my commencement speeches, which starts as follows: “Most of us spend a lot of time dreaming of the future, never realizing that a little of it arrives each day.” Spring weather and commencement weekend – May 10-11 – will be upon us before we know it. I encourage you all to make the most of every moment you have at Kutztown University.

I look forward to seeing you all on campus in the days and weeks ahead and wish you all the best for an enjoyable and successful spring semester.


Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson
Kutztown University