Indiana University's Next President Is Pamela Whitten

Apr 16, 2021

New IU President Pamela Whitten speaks to trustees, media and members of the IU community at a press conference Friday, April 16, 2021.
Credit (Alex Paul, WFIU/WTIU News)

Pamela Whitten will be the next president of the IU system.  

The Board of Trustees approved her hire at a special meeting this morning.

Whitten has been president of Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Georgia since 2018. Before she was hired there, she was one of four finalists for the same position at Iowa State University. 

“I've always considered IU to be among the best public universities in the country,” Whitten said today during a news conference after her approval. “And so, I am humbled and I am honored and I am excited to be joining IU.”

Trustee members touted her record at KSU of increasing enrollment, fundraising and improving diversity.

“In a short amount of time, just three years, she led major progress at the university, overseeing a 15% increase in student enrollment from 35,500 to 41,000 students, all while addressing significant diversity and inclusion and fiscal challenges,” said trustee Melanie Walker, who co-chaired the search committee.

KSU received the three largest monetary gifts in school history during Whitten’s time as president and the school had the largest freshman class in the State of Georgia last fall. The percentage of nonwhite students increased from 43.1% to 48.7% during her three years.

Whitten oversaw Kennesaw State’s transition to a Research 2 university during her time as president. IU has a Research 1 designation. When asked about the jump to a Research 1 university, she said her extended experience at large state schools such as Michigan State and the University of Georgia makes her comfortable at IU.

“I'm used to the [Research 1] culture,” she said.

According to Whitten’s bio on the Kennesaw State website, she previously served as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Georgia. She also was the director for telemedicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State. 

Whitten is taking over after a pandemic year that upended regular business for universities across the nation. She expects things to be back to normal for the IU system’s fall semester.

“It's looking good,” Whitten said. “It's looking like we should be able to return in the fall to a regular full, normal semester. And so that's the plan.”

University leadership “very much want(s)” students vaccinated, but no decision has been made on requiring vaccinations for the fall semester, according to Dr. Michael Mirro, the Board of Trustees chair.

“It's still up in the air,” he said. “So, we would encourage the students to do this voluntarily on their own to protect our community.”

Whitten will be the first female president in the university’s history.

She’s succeeding current president Michael McRobbie, who announced last August he’ll be retiring June 30. 

Whitten is scheduled to assume her role as president July 1.

This story has been updated. Mitch Legan contributed to this story.