UNA President Kenneth Kitts shares his goals at investiture speech

President Kenneth Kitts speaks on his plans for the future of UNA at the investiture ceremony Aug. 28. “I can’t do much by myself, but when the talent in this campus is coordinated and motivated, we can move mountains,” he said. Kitts was named the 20th president of the university after William Cale’s retirement effective July 1, 2014.

by News Editor Anna Brown

The solemn playing of the pipe organ welcomed distinguished guests, community members and students to the investiture ceremony of the 20th president, Kenneth Kitts, Aug. 28.

Norton Auditorium slowly filled as the faculty marched in, adorned in their robes and hats in honor of the event.

“This is a day of celebration for the university,” Kitts said in an interview Aug. 27. “It’s something significant that not all students get to experience during their college career.”

Lawmakers and leaders from around the state attended the ceremony, including Rep. Robert Aderholt, Rep. Mo Brooks and Sen. Larry Stutts. Mayors from Florence, Sheffield and Tuscumbia also attended the ceremony and welcomed Kitts to the area.

When Kitts first stepped on campus in March, he said he wanted to get to know the community before he set goals for the university.

Kitts emphasized the importance of teamwork within the university administration, faculty and staff.

“I can’t do much by myself, but when the talent in this campus is coordinated and motivated, we can move mountains,” Kitts said. “That’s true of most good things in life. They are a function of collective efforts.”

During his acceptance speech, Kitts outlined goals for UNA under his leadership.

Kitts said he thinks the Shoals is an area worth celebrating.

“We are set in an area known for natural beauty, outdoor opportunities and rich cultural heritage,” he said. “Our locational advantage here is not hard to identify.”

He went on to challenge the faculty and staff to use UNA as a way to promote the Shoals as a community, not just Florence.

He said including the communities of Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia are an important part of the health of the area and the university.

“We must send a loud and clear message that we understand what it means to be a regional university,” he said.

Secondly, Kitts said he wants to provide an extraordinary experience for students in every area of the university.

“To be clear, I believe we are, in fact, doing that now,” Kitts said. “But, in the rapidly changing world of the early 21st century, we have to check ourselves constantly to ensure we remain on the cutting edge of delivering a high quality, personalized education that will open the right doors for our graduates.”

As a self-proclaimed “history buff” and political science professor, Kitts said he also wants to share UNA’s history with the community.

“I’ve heard people say UNA is the ‘best kept secret in higher education,’” he said. “The comment is meant to be positive. I appreciate the recognition that what we are doing here is very good, and it is, but we cannot keep it a secret.”

He also emphasized that our state funding relies on our ability to prove our worth to the community and the state.

University of North Carolina at Pembroke Chancellor Emeritus Kyle Carter, Kitts’ previous colleague was the guest speaker.

Carter commented on Kitts’ personal and professional qualities that equip him for the presidency at UNA. He spoke highly of Kitts’ leadership and communication skills as displayed in his previous position as provost at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Carter also discussed the significance of the investiture ceremony in the life of a university. He said it is a time of great hope and excitement.

“Simultaneously, the community is quietly apprehensive,” Carter said. “It’s new leader is relatively unknown and untested in his new assignment. University of North Alabama, relax. You have chosen the right man to lead you.”

Vice President of the Student Government Association Nicole Gallups said she enjoyed attending the ceremony.

“It was truly a unique thing to experience,” she said.

Junior Jacob Phillips said he enjoyed learning more about UNA at the ceremony.

“It was interesting to learn about the history of UNA and it’s founding president through Dr. Kitts’ speech,” Phillips said. “It was also cool to learn more about Dr. Kitts through the testimony of his friends and colleagues.”