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The Pine Needle
The Pine Needle
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Provost to be President of UNA

Provost to be President of UNA

By Jonathan Bym, EditorPhoto by Sara Owen

Provost Kenneth D. Kitts knew that after four years of serving in his position at a university, it was nearing the time when he would start looking for a chancellorship or presidency if he wanted to. But, he hadn’t even started looking for an open position until he received a phone call from the search firm conducting the search for the University of North Alabama’s next president.

“When the first call came in, it was from the search consultant…they said I had been recommended,” he said. “For a provost looking for an advancement, a chancellorship or a presidency would be the obvious choice to think about.”

Dr. Kitts accepted the position on Nov. 7 and will leave the university around spring break in late March or early April.

“I wanted to be sensitive to both UNC Pembroke’s needs and not leaving abruptly and also to North Alabama and their needs, and they obviously would like a president on board,” he said. “My thought process of getting over there before the end of the semester is really the faculty.

“Getting there a little earlier meant this is my opportunity to meet the faculty before they left for summer,” he said.

A search will be started to find a new provost, and the dilemma that Chancellor Kyle R. Carter has to make is where the interim will come from.

“Whether that will be an internal or external interim is the main question,” he said.

Replacing Dr. William Cale who had served at the helm of the University of North Alabama since 2005, Dr. Kitts said the university and local community’s appeal drew him to UNA.

“I really liked the campus and the community. I’m very excited about the opportunity,” Dr. Kitts said.

Being a history buff, the campus and area are hotbeds pertaining to the Civil War and that appealed to Dr. Kitts as well.

During the search, Dr. Kitts took three trips to campus. The first one was in late September and gave him just a lay of the land. In the following weeks, he had two other visits, an airport interview that turned into a campus tour and then the campus interview.

Dr. Kitts led the organization of many of the newer projects on campus over the past four years and the campus community can see the results. The consolidation of the Academic Resource Center and the growth of two programs are two things he has to show for his time in Pembroke.

“Getting those offices into the DF Lowry and creating a more robust academic support center for our students and creating a Southeast American Indian Studies program were huge,” Provost Kitts said. “All of these were group efforts and the Masters of Arts in nursing was started before I got here, but did it come to fruition on my watch, and I’m happy about that. I think overall UNCP is in a good place.”

Since his arrival in 2011, the Master of Arts in nursing program has came about housed in the new Health Sciences Building.

“Pembroke has been very good to me,” said Dr. Kitts of his tenure with the university. “I love this school and I love this area and I want to make sure I leave the best possible impression.”

Chancellor Carter was a person that Dr. Kitts often turned to during this process because of his familiarity with this experience.

“When this opportunity first arose, I started seeking his advice and he’s been excellent because he’s been there and been through it,” Dr. Kitts said. “He’s offered advice when I asked for it, and he’s been very supportive.”

Despite being over 600 miles away from Pembroke in the future, Dr. Kitts has more than just one reason to stay in touch with the university and the region since his wife, Dena, has family in this region.

“We have a reason to come back here above and beyond UNCP,” he said. “We are going to be in touch, and I will forever keep track of the progression of the university.”

Photo by Sara Owen. Dr. Ken Kitts and Dean of the School of Education Zoe Locklear talk at the after hours mixer during homecoming week.