The Newman University Board of Trustees has named Kathleen S. Jagger, Ph.D., MPH, the 12th president of Newman University effective July 1, 2020.
Jagger was selected after a nine-month public search process, which concluded with her approval by the full Board at its meeting on May 29.
She is Newman’s second laywoman to serve as president in its 86-year history. Jagger replaces Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., who retired in December after more than 12 years leading the university.
With extensive higher education and leadership experience, Jagger is uniquely qualified to lead Wichita’s Catholic university. She recently served as acting president at Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, KY, where she also held vice president and dean positions and led the school’s transition from a college to a university. Additionally, Jagger created the school’s Institute for Ethical Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies.
While acknowledging the many challenges currently facing small colleges, Jagger said she feels called to this presidency.
“It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be chosen to lead Newman University as its next president,” said Jagger. “Today, the challenges for university presidents are unprecedented but so are the opportunities.
“Succeeding in this environment requires a creative, flexible, fearless and humble leader who is student-centered and committed to a vision that cultivates a values-based community of scholars that will lead to a better tomorrow for both students and the societies in which we live.”
Board Chair J.T. Klaus believes Jagger embodies those qualities and thinks she will be embraced by the Newman and Wichita communities.
“People are going to love Kathleen,” Klaus said. “She has an impressive and vast background in higher education and has also worked in the private health sector. She will be a hands-on leader who is innovative, inclusive, authentic and service-minded. Kathleen is the right leader for these challenging times facing Newman and all of higher education.”
Presidential Search Committee Chair Jason Searl was impressed with the quality of the men and women who took part in the university’s quest to identify a new leader.
Searl said, “We were blessed to have so many outstanding candidates who desired to become the president of our great Catholic university and we thank them all. Through the Providence of God, months of prayer by the Newman community and the hard work of our committee, Dr. Jagger became the clear choice to lead Newman into a bright future.”
Going through the interview process, Jagger became certain Newman was a perfect fit and where she was meant to be.
“Newman attracted me because of its mission, core values and Newman Code,” explained Jagger. “To empower students to transform society is an action-oriented objective that requires we educate students, expand their frames of reference, introduce them to some of the great thinkers of all time, teach them valuable critical thinking, speaking and writing skills but also inculcate in them the responsibility that comes with that education to change the world through a lens of critical consciousness that hungers for peace and justice. There is no better education for these times than a Catholic, values-based, liberal arts education.”
Jagger is looking forward to joining the community, including connecting with the sisters of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, sponsors of Newman University.
“I look forward to learning from them, imagining the future for Newman, and meeting today’s challenge alongside such creative, committed and faith-filled women.”
She also sees great opportunity working with Newman board members and Wichita Bishop Carl A. Kemme.
“The commitment of the Board of Trustees and Bishop Kemme to Newman University impresses me. They set high standards but are willing to work collaboratively to reach those expectations.”
Jagger earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She also has a master’s degree in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA. Jagger earned a B.A. in Zoology from DePauw University in Greencastle, IN, where she taught for 19 years and served as professor of microbiology and public health from 1996-2002. After her time at DePauw, Jagger became a professor of biology and served in numerous administrative and leadership roles at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY for 13 years.
Jagger plans to work remotely when she begins her presidency and move to campus later in July. She is married to Dr. Jim Jagger who formally served as director of athletic medicine and team doctor for the University of Kentucky athletics.
The couple have two grown sons, Matthew and Mark. “My husband Jim and I were captivated on our visit to Wichita by the extraordinary hospitality which permeated its culture even during a period of lockdown due to COVID. We look forward to becoming active members of the Wichita community,” Jagger said.