About President McKinney

President William J. McKinney, Valdosta State University's 9th President

Chamber Reception

A nationally recognized teacher, scholar, and academic leader, Dr. William J. McKinney became Valdosta State University’s ninth president on July 1, 2012. Prior to arriving at VSU, Dr. McKinney served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW).

During his tenure at IPFW, Dr. McKinney led the successful regional reaccreditation by the North Central Association’s Higher Learning Commission as well as the process that led to IPFW’s “Engaged University” designation by the Carnegie Foundation. In his four years at IPFW, sponsored research, grants, and contracts increased by 33 percent. Under his leadership, IPFW also had increases in full-time tenure track faculty, and the percentage of female and minority faculty.

In 2010, Dr. McKinney was selected as one of the first 25 chief academic officers to spearhead the “Red Balloon Project.” This project, begun by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), seeks nothing less than to fundamentally re-imagine the role, function, and operation of higher education in the wake of post-2008 budgetary challenges. The Red Balloon Project served as McKinney’s inspiration for the development of the “Re-imagining IPFW’s Academic Future” initiative, an innovative experiment in shared governance where faculty and academic administrators worked collaboratively on strategic priorities ranging from enrollment management to the use of mobile technology.  

A firm believer of the value of a liberal education, Dr. McKinney has been actively involved with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) since 1994.  In 2011, he represented the State of Indiana in the AAC&U’s Quality Collaboratives Project. This collaborative, funded by the Lumina Foundation, seeks to refocus the national higher education dialogue on matters of quality and student learning outcomes by reemphasizing the centrality of faculty and liberal learning.

McKinney has been active in the work of the Honor Society Phi Kappa Phi, serving on its board of directors from 2010-2012, and in various volunteer roles since 2005. He also has been a member of and held leadership positions in a range of local, state, and national organizations, including Northeast Indiana Public Radio, Northeast Indiana Aging and In-Home Services, and the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce.

McKinney served as the founding Dean of the College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania from 2001-2008, and as the Chairperson of Philosophy and Religion at Southeast Missouri State from 1997-2001. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Science in 1992 and a M.A. in History and Philosophy in 1989, both from Indiana University-Bloomington. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a B.A. in History from Bucknell in 1986. He has published or presented well over 100 papers, book chapters or reviews in such diverse topics as the philosophical nature of scientific experiments, environmental ethics, liberal education, and civic engagement.

He is married to Dr. Dacia Charlesworth. A noted teacher and scholar, Charlesworth previously served as associate professor of Communication at IPFW, associate professor and University Honors Program Director at Robert Morris University, and the Oral Communication Across the Curriculum Program Director at Southeast Missouri State University. Her research topics include rhetorical and performative intersections of gender, ethnicity and class, communication across the curriculum, and outcomes assessment. She has authored more than 80 articles, book chapters, conference papers, and performances. Her work has been published in Women’s Studies in Communication, Women & Language, Communication Teacher, Feminist Media Studies, and Vital Speeches of the Day.

Dr. Charlesworth has received numerous awards for her teaching including the Robert Morris University Student Government Association’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award and Engagement with Students Award as well as the Central States Communication Association’s Outstanding New Teacher of the Year Award.