As the University System of Georgia searches for several new presidents for universities and colleges, it has just picked two. Dr. Kathy “Kat” Schwaig, chief academic officer and provost, has been named interim president of Kennesaw State University. Dr. Dana Nichols, chief academic officer and provost, will serve as interim president of Georgia Highlands College. Both appointments were made by the System’s Chancellor Steve Wrigley, who is retiring on July 1.
Schwaig takes over at KSU from President Pamela Whitten, who becomes head of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, on July 1. “Dr. Schwaig has great passion for Kennesaw State University and has built a reputation as an exceptional leader who understands how to foster success and keep KSU a student-centered university,” Wrigley said. “I appreciate her willingness to serve and know she will continue to work collaboratively with faculty, staff, students and leadership to help KSU achieve its goals.”
As provost, Schwaig has been responsible for all aspects of the university’s academic mission including the intellectual environment for faculty, students and staff, and planning, budgeting, supervising and reviewing programs in instruction, research and continuing education. She supervised the deans of KSU’s 11 colleges and led the faculty in their efforts to strengthen academic programs.
At Georgia Highlands, Dr. Nichols will succeed President Don Green, who accepted a position as president of Point Park University in Pittsburgh. Her appointment becomes effective July 7, 2021.
Nichols has served in her current role since August 2018. She previously worked as vice president for academic affairs at Chattanooga State Community College. She began her academic career at Gainesville State College, serving first as a tutor in the Foreign Language and Writing Labs and then as associate professor of both English and Spanish. A native of northeast Georgia, Nichols has also served as assistant vice president and dean of Academic Affairs at Lanier Technical College.
And about that chancellor search…
In January the University System’s Board of Regents launched a nationwide search to find a replacement for Wrigley. Some interviews and interest had been taking place since then. However, late last month, the name of former Gov. Sonny Perdue was leaked to the media. Some Perdue political allies are suspected of trying to champion him for the chancellor post. Then some Georgia college students began advocating against the hiring of Perdue. After that came a stern letter from the University System’s accreditation agency to the Regents warning them that political interference in the naming of the chancellor is forbidden. This all caused the Regents to issue the following statement:
“After thoughtful discussions, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia has elected to pause the current search for Chancellor. We value the input received from faculty, staff, students, and community leaders throughout this process and want to ensure we meet the expectations of this challenging, yet critically important time in higher education. As we pause to reflect and determine our next steps, please be assured we remain dedicated to our vision of creating a more educated Georgia.”
With Wrigley preparing to clean out his desk soon, the Regents “next steps” should be announced shortly.