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KU President Honored with Elgin Community College Distinguished Alumni Award

Feb. 22, 2017

Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, president, Kutztown University is presented the Elgin Community College Distinguished Alumni Award from Eleanor MacKinney, chair, Elgin Community College Board of TrusteesKUTZTOWN, Pa. - Kutztown University President Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson is one of seven alumni and community members who were honored by the Elgin Community College (ECC) Foundation during its 19th Annual Founders' Day Celebration and Luncheon on Sunday, Feb. 12, in Elgin, Ill.

The event commemorated the 1949 founding of the college, as well as recognized the distinguished achievements made by ECC students, alumni, employees, retirees and other community partners and supporters who have made an impact at ECC and played an integral part in fulfilling the college's mission.

"It is said that some dream of worthy achievement while others stay awake and achieve," Hawkinson said in accepting the Distinguished Alumni Award. "Elgin Community College taught me how to 'stay awake.'  I am indeed humbled by this great honor and am grateful for all ECC has done for me and for your recognition at this wonderful event."

A first-generation college student, Hawkinson earned his associate degree from ECC in 1976. He also earned both a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in speech communication from Western Illinois University (WIU). He later earned a PhD in speech communication and performance studies from Southern Illinois University.

Hawkinson began his tenure as the 12th president of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania in 2015. Under his leadership, the institution has made strides in academic excellence, student success, and expanding educational access.

Hawkinson began his academic career at WIU as an assistant professor of communication and advanced to full professor. Additionally, he was an adjunct professor of African-American studies, an instructor in the honors program, and leader of the faculty senate and the faculty union.

As a Fulbright scholar from 1990 to 1991, he taught American studies at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and researched African folklore and oral tradition. After serving in several roles at WIU ranging from chair of the Department of Communication to associate provost, Hawkinson was named provost and academic vice president in 2012, with responsibilities including fiscal and enrollment management, curriculum, and contract negotiations. Hawkinson was a member of the Illinois National Guard, then joined the U.S. Army as an infantry officer for three years. In Germany, he served as a platoon leader, weapons platoon leader, and public affairs officer. He spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, West Africa.

Hawkinson volunteers extensively in his community and has been recognized for his support of diversity. His interests and creative pursuits include storytelling, oral tradition and performance of literature. He said all that he is professionally began at ECC.

"I tell my story often to my community colleagues and potential transfer students so that they understand the high level of respect and appreciation I feel towards community colleges and the role they play in providing a high quality, affordable education that meets the needs of their students," Hawkinson said. "I have had a fulfilling life as a result of the caring teachers and staff at this wonderful institution."

The event's theme, "Some Dreams Just Need a Little Help," focuses on students who need assistance to make their academic dreams come true. Net proceeds from the sold-out event benefit the ECC Foundation Resources for Excellence Annual Fund, helping students start and stay in college, seeding innovative ideas for educational excellence and effectiveness, and providing investment for other areas of emergent need to enable access to education and award excellence in our shared community. 

Photo:  Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, president, Kutztown University is presented the Elgin Community College Distinguished Alumni Award from Eleanor MacKinney, chair, Elgin Community College Board of Trustees