UNA Celebrates 185 Years and Investiture of New President!


Bryan Rachal, University Communications

If you will oblige, let’s pretend we have a time machine. We’ve gotten in and pressed 1830 on the year. What will we find? Well for one, across the pond King George IV of England died and William IV ascended to the throne. Back in the States, it was the year American poet Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, and the year a man named Peter Cooper raced his locomotive, the Tom Thumb, against a horse. It was also the start of western expansion in the U.S.: William L. Sublette, with the goods from the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, took the first wagons along the Oregon Trail to the Rocky Mountains.

In rural northwestern Alabama, it was the year that started it all for the University of North Alabama and we haven’t looked back since. The University of North Alabama, which was originally known as LaGrange College, began teaching students on Jan. 11, 1830. While the name and location may have changed since then, the goal of educating the masses has remained a constant. From its humble beginnings with 70 students and three faculty members the University has grown to serve over 6,800 students with representatives from more than 40 different countries.

The start of fall 2015 semester will mark the 185th anniversary for UNA; and to celebrate, the University will host a series of events Aug. 26-28. The theme for the celebration is “Our Time to Roar,” and it will culminate with the investiture of president Kenneth Kitts, Ph.D., Friday, Aug. 28, at 4 p.m. The fall semester will mark Kitts’ first full semester as UNA’s 20th president.

The celebration will also include UNA’s traditional freshmen convocation on Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 9 a.m., in Norton Auditorium. This year’s keynote speaker is UNA’s own President Kenneth D. Kitts. An academic colloquium focusing on student research will take place Thursday afternoon, Aug. 27, and will feature academic presentations and poster sessions. Thursday evening the UNA@185 Day celebration will take place in the Harrison Plaza on campus with music, ice cream and historical tours given by students and the Tennessee Valley Historical Board. Community members are encouraged to come join in the anniversary celebration.

This is truly a special time in the history of the University of North Alabama. With 185 years behind us and our eyes on the future, it’s “Our Time to Roar!”


Dr. Kenneth D. Kitts

Dr. Ken Kitts became president of the University of North Alabama on March 30, 2015. As chief executive officer of UNA, he is responsible for all operations and activities on a beautiful and historic campus that serves 7,000 students. Dr. Kitts interacts routinely with community leaders and represents the university at a variety of regional, state and national events.

Prior to joining UNA, Dr. Kitts worked at both Francis Marion University in South Carolina (1987-2011) and at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (2011-2015).

He taught full time for over a decade before moving into the administrative ranks. At UNCP, he held the title of provost and supervised a division with over 600 faculty and staff.

A native of Waynesville, North Carolina, Dr. Kitts holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Appalachian State University, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of South Carolina. He also holds a post-graduate certificate from Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management. Dr. Kitts’ academic interests include the American presidency and national security policy. He is the author of an award-winning book on presidential commissions as well as numerous articles, book chapters, and commentaries.

Dr. Kitts and his wife, Dena, are the proud parents of two young boys, Colin and Corbin. The family lives in the President’s Home on the UNA campus and are next door neighbors to the two African lions that serve as the university’s mascot.


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