Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson

President Kenneth S. Hawkinson

Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson began his tenure as the 12th president of Kutztown University on July 1, 2015.

Since his arrival at KU, Hawkinson has established 53 initiatives for the institution focusing on areas such as academic excellence, enrollment management and student success, and expanding educational opportunity and access.   Accomplishments since his arrival include the completion of a new strategic plan for the university, a new marketing plan or "branding" of the university, an increase in academic standards and an increase in the academic profile of its students, the establishment of numerous advisory committees to enhance his commitment to shared governance, and a significant increase in fundraising. Hawkinson's community outreach efforts have included the establishment of "Walks with Wynnie," weekly campus walks featuring the Hawkinsons' family dog.

The university’s overall financial situation improved under Hawkinson, as KU operated under a balanced budget without the use of cash reserves since 2018, while significantly increasing student support. Golden Bear athletics experienced unprecedented success during Hawkinson’s tenure, winning six conference championships, the 2023 NCAA Football Super Region One Championship and the 2023 NCAA Division II Field Hockey National Championship, the first NCAA national championship in school history.

The KU Foundation completed the “Together, We’re Golden: The Campaign for Kutztown University” in 2023, raising a school-record $46,852,180 to create scholarships, bolster emergency funds and enhance student experiences.

KU’s overall full-time equivalency students rose in 2023 for the first time in 13 years. It increased 1.57% to 6,574.47, including 1,573.2 new first-time, full-time students – the highest since fall 2018. Hawkinson’s commitment to enhancing campus diversity showed with an all-time high of 31% minority students in the Fall 2023 freshman class.

He oversaw new construction and renovations of several facilities on campus, including Keystone Field; DeLight E. Breidegam Building, Headquarters of the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center; Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research; de Francesco Building; Keith Haring Fitness Court; Admissions Welcome Center; and the Nancy Jean Stump Seiger ’54 Botanical Research Center.

Before coming to KU, Hawkinson was provost and academic vice president at Western Illinois University from 2012-15. Prior to assuming his position as provost, Hawkinson served Western Illinois for four years as associate provost and associate vice president for budget, planning and personnel. Previously, he was associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication and chair of the Department of Communication.

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.

Hawkinson earned his bachelor's degree in history from Western Illinois University. He also has a Master of Arts in speech communication from the institution and holds a doctorate 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, West Africa, and conducted research in African folklore and oral tradition. 

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 was called to active duty as an infantry officer. He served in Germany as a platoon leader and a weapons platoon leader, and as a public affairs officer. He also served for two years as a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa.

A native of Carpentersville, Ill., Hawkinson is married to the former Ann Marie Hayes.  His son, Jivan Deglise-Favre-Hawkinson, recently completed his doctoral studies in engineering at the University of Michigan.

  • Education
    • 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