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Kennesaw State breaks glass ceiling; two women hold top academic positions

KSU, Coles College of Business Kathy 'Kat' Schwaig is being promoted to Kennesaw State University's top academic officer, following her service since 2012 as dean of KSU's Coles College of Business. Credit: KSU

By David Pendered

A Kennesaw State University professor who led prescient research on information privacy – think Facebook privacy breaches – has been named the university’s top academic officer. At a time academia still presents a glass ceiling, KSU’s top two positions and a majority of cabinet positions are held by women.

Kathy 'Kat' Schwaig

Kathy ‘Kat’ Schwaig

KSU President Pamela Whitten named Kathy “Kat” Schwaig as the university’s fourth provost and vice president for academic affairs. Schwaig has served since 2012 as dean of KSU’s Coles College of Business and holds the endowed Dinos chair of entrepreneurial management.

After taking office Feb. 18, Schwaig will become responsible for all of KSU’s academic affairs – overseeing deans of KSU’s 13 colleges and all programs in research, instruction and continuing education. It’s a position Whitten knows well, given that she served as the University of Georgia’s chief academic officer before she was named KSU’s president in July 2018.

“Dr. Schwaig has an undeniable passion for Kennesaw State,” Whitten said in a statement. “Her reputation as an exceptional leader with the ability to create synergies across the university makes her uniquely qualified to serve as KSU’s next chief academic officer.”

Schwaig becomes the seventh female to serve on Whitten’s 11-member cabinet, a group that helped lead KSU to its designation in December 2018 as an R2 institution. The R2 ranking is the nation’s second-highest classification for research institutions, as reviewed by an affiliate of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“I am looking forward to partnering with her [Schwaig] to cement our focus on consistently being a student-centered university as we become one of the nation’s top R2 research universities,” Whitten said.

Schwaig said she looks forward to helping KSU meet its stated mission of providing high quality programs to adults both younger and older.

Pamela Whitten

Pamela Whitten

“I am grateful to President Whitten for the opportunity to serve as provost and vice president for academic affairs at KSU, the place that I have proudly called my professional home for almost 17 years,” Schwaig said in a statement. “KSU has such a bright future, and I’m thrilled to work collaboratively with the faculty, staff, students, and leadership to help KSU achieve its goals.”

The research project on information privacy was one of Schwaig’s several academic treatises published after she arrived at KSU in 2002, as a professor of information systems. Schwaig was the first of four authors listed by the journal, Information and Management, on a piece titled: A Model of Consumers’ Perceptions of the Invasion of Information Privacy. The piece, written in 2008 and published in 2013, observed:

  • “We examined factors that influence an individual’s attitude and decisions about the information handling practices of corporations.…
  • “For practitioners, our findings suggested that consumers hold corporations, not the IS [information systems], responsible for any inappropriate use of personal information. Organizations, therefore, must be proactive in formulating and enforcing information privacy policy in order to address consumers’ concerns.”

The piece foreshadowed the financial losses incurred by Facebook as the market weighed concerns about privacy breaches revealed in 2018.

KSU, Coles College of Business

Kathy ‘Kat’ Schwaig is being promoted to Kennesaw State University’s top academic officer, following her service since 2012 as dean of KSU’s Coles College of Business. Credit: KSU

Investors seemed to care less about the technical reasons why Facebook had compromised user accounts, and more that the Facebook corporation had allowed the breaches to occur. Facebook stock had lost 20 percent of its value in 2018, according to a Dec. 19, 2018 report by bloomberg.com.

Schwaig’s promotion at KSU comes as the latest research shows women continue to face challenges in climbing the rungs of academia, according to a number of reports.

According to an unpublished 2013 survey conducted on behalf of the American Council on Education, as provided by KSU, results include:

  • The proportion of women serving in the position of provost, or chief academic officer, has declined from 2008 to 2013 in public doctoral-degree granting institutions;
  • Women seemingly have to forego marriage and family to climb the ranks of academia – of the men in provost positions, 89 percent were married, compared to 71 percent of women in the position; in addition, 87 percent of men had children and 71 percent of women in the provost position had children.

According to a 2017 report by ACE, provided by KSU, women remain under-represented in the president of degree-granting institutions:


  • “Doctoral-granting: 13.3 percent (2001) vs. 21.8 percent (2016);
  • Master’s: 20.3 percent (2001) vs. 29.1 percent (2016);
  • Bachelor’s: 18.7 percent (2001) vs. 27.9 percent (2016);
  • Associate: 26.9 percent (2001) vs. 35.8 percent (2016).


  • 9 percent (2001) vs. 32.8 percent (2016).


  • 9 percent (2001) vs. 27.2 percent (2016).”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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