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A Letter to the KU Community from Dr. Kenneth Hawkinson

July 8, 2015

Dear Kutztown University Community,

Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to the Kutztown University, students, faculty and staff, the council of trustees, and the mayor and citizens of Kutztown for welcoming Ann Marie and me into your community.  We are very grateful for the graciousness we have been shown, and I fully recognize the honor of being selected as the 12th president of Kutztown University.  We are very excited about joining the university community and becoming active citizens of the town and region. 

During my interview and through this transitional period, I have been impressed with the passion and dedication of the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the many others connected with the university, and will soon begin to meet with the many units and constituencies on campus.  I have asked to meet with every academic unit on campus, as well as all administrative units, student groups, and community organizations.  In addition, along with all the governance units currently in place such as the University Senate, unions, and student government organizations, I will establish a faculty advisory committee and a staff advisory committee to give me feedback on various initiatives.  Faculty and staff leaders and individuals active in the search process and the transition team will be invited to serve on these committees.]

Under the leadership of trustee vice chair Dr. Charles Blocksidge and associate vice provost/dean of students Robert Watrous, a transition committee has been established representing many of the constituencies on campus. This committee is hard at work gathering data and developing reports on all aspects of the university.  Their work will assist me greatly in assessing the status of the many programs and units of the university, as well as providing me with historical context for future decisions. 

Transitions in leadership provide enormous opportunity to evaluate where we are and where we can go in the future.  Building on the fine work of those leaders who preceded me, we will together identify initiatives that will enhance the educational experience for our students and working environment for our faculty and employees. 

Together we will put forth many new ideas and initiatives to help us move forward. Many of these will take time to study and evaluate as to their feasibility at KU.  In my opening day presentation on August 21, I will present to the community the various areas that I wish to examine and the process I hope to follow through my first 150 days at the university.  But as I said in my remarks in March during my appointment ceremony - there is a time to brainstorm, evaluate, gather data, etc., and then we must act.  Major initiatives will take longer periods of time, but some things we can do right away.

For example, on Wednesday I will be presenting to the State System and the board of governors our mandated "action plan."  In this plan we were asked to identify our "programs of distinction," which will soon be featured on our website (www.kutztown.edu).  This presentation will be posted on our website in the days ahead.  We will also be moving quickly to enhance our webpage format.  Watch for announcements in the near future regarding additional initiatives. 

We have many challenges to meet in the coming year, most notably the declining resources from the commonwealth and a smaller pool of students from which to recruit new students.  We must move aggressively to meet these and other challenges.  As with new leadership, challenges present new opportunities for positive change and renewal.

In early remarks to the KU community I spoke of "place."  Values plus space equals "place."  To simply occupy "space" leads to a very unfulfilling life.  But when one adds values to that space, it converts to a place - a community wherein one lives and learns and transcends to a level greater than one can reach as an individual.  Kutztown University is such a place - where students can come to a safe and enriching environment, in a beautiful part of world to learn, grow and mature into enlightened and productive citizens. 

The Borough of Kutztown is currently celebrating its bicentennial year, and this coming academic year Kutztown University will celebrate its sesquicentennial, or 150th year.  These milestones are not only times of celebration, but also times for reflection - on all the contributions our community and university have made to enhance the lives of citizens and students over  many years.  These milestones also remind us of the responsibility we have to continue to provide a quality educational experience and enriching community to future populations.  To continue to make Kutztown a "place" where future students, faculty, and citizens will want to work, learn, and lead fulfilling lives.

I am committed to an open, transparent administration where students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members and all other constituencies have a voice in our future.  I look forward to the challenges ahead and working with you all to meet those challenges in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable second half of summer break. 

Sincerely,

Kenneth S. Hawkinson, Ph.D.
President
Kutztown University

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