Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times
VALDOSTA — The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia appointed Dr. William J. McKinney as the next president of Valdosta State University on Friday.
“It feels incredible, it’s an honor, it’s a privilege and I’m absolutely delighted,” said the humble yet clearly excited McKinney.
McKinney is currently vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), a position he has held since 2008. In this post, McKinney oversees an annual $70 million budget and is responsible for more than 400 full-time and almost 400 part-time faculty.
McKinney will have big shoes to fill as VSU’s Interim President Dr. Louis Levy is beloved throughout the VSU community and the community of Valdosta as a whole.
“His reputation precedes him,” said McKinney.
McKinney plans to utilize Levy as a resource and has already reached out to him to help prepare for the transition of not only becoming an official Blazer, but the head Blazer.
“He will be one of the first folks I visit with when I get there,” said McKinney.
While naturally it will take time for McKinney to adjust to his new position as president, he stated that he will waste no time getting out and getting to know the community.
“I think one of the first things you do when you’re in this kind of position is get to know the individuals you will work with and the campus and of course the surrounding community,” said McKinney. “On July 1st, I become the new guy and part of that responsibility is getting out and meeting people.”
McKinney wants to get an idea of people’s needs and interests because he feels that’s how you take a strong institution like VSU and move it into the future. He stated that higher education, in particular public higher education, is in a unique place right now. What attracted him to VSU was how as an institution they are already ready to take higher education to the next level.
“We can take this institution and build it into an exemplar of what higher education in the United States should look like,” said McKinney.
McKinney has already been in touch with Herb Rinehart, the VSU Athletic Director.
“He’s been giving me updates and I’ve been following online,” said McKinney. “I can’t wait to get behind Blazer athletics and I’m excited for football season to start.”
While the departure of Levy will be bitter-sweet for the VSU community, it will be easy to welcome McKinney as Levy speaks of him very highly.
“The VSU presidency is one of the best leadership positions in higher education today,” said Levy. “Dr. McKinney will bring national recognition to VSU and this community.”
McKinney will assume the position of president beginning July 1.
“I, along with VSU faculty, staff, students and alumni welcome Dr. McKinney, and his wife Dacia, to our wonderful university and outstanding community,” said Levy.
McKinney’s previous experience also includes serving as dean of the College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts at Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA. from 2001 to 2008 and chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO. from 1997 to 2001. He has taught at these three institutions, as well as the University of Kentucky, Lexington.
As a result of his work in the area of academics and university management, in 2009 McKinney was picked as one of 25 members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) national “Red Balloon Project.” The group was charged with developing a new approach to undergraduate education that is responsive to public demands for greater accountability in higher education results in a new era of reduced state funding.
McKinney has been active in the work of Phi Kappa Phi honor society, serving on the national board of directors and in various volunteer roles. He also has been a member and held leadership positions in a range of local, state and national organizations, including Leadership Fort Wayne, Northeast Indiana Aging and In-Home Services, and the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce.
He earned a bachelor of arts in history and a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pa. Both of his advanced degrees were earned at Indiana University in Bloomington which include a master’s degree in history and the philosophy of science and a doctorate in the philosophy of science.