Kathy Humphrey named president of Carlow University

An institution in higher education, Dr. Humphrey gets unanimous vote of approval by Carlow board

by Rob Taylor Jr.
Courier Staff Writer

Carlow University searched near and far for its next president, and turns out, the best candidate was literally a few blocks away.

Kathy W. Humphrey, Ph.D., was announced on March 12 by the university as its next president, the 11th in school history, the New Pittsburgh Courier has learned.

Dr. Humphrey will begin her tenure as Carlow president on July 1.

Dr. Humphrey comes to Carlow jam-packed with higher education experience, as she’s currently Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Engagement and Secretary to the Board at the University of Pittsburgh. She also serves there as an Associate Professor of Education. Overall, Dr. Humphrey has 30 years of leadership experience in higher education.

Current Carlow President Suzanne K. Mellon, Ph.D., is retiring on June 30 after eight years as leader of the Catholic university nestled in Oakland. Dr. Mellon said in a release that Dr. Humphrey is the right person at the right time to lead Carlow forward. “She understands the important role Carlow plays in the Pittsburgh region and will continue to build upon this progressive, innovative institution rooted in the values of our founders,” Dr. Mellon said.
“After a robust national search, Dr. Humphrey emerged as an extraordinary leader who will propel Carlow into the future,” said Board Chair Dorothy A. Davis, J.D., in a release. “Her dynamic vision will inspire and motivate Carlow students, faculty, and the larger university community with her courageous voice, effective skills and engaged involvement.”

It was important for Carlow to select a president who has a strong allegiance to the university’s core Catholic Mercy values, especially regarding matters of social justice, equity and inclusion, according to a release. Dr. Humphrey, who is African American, has shown her commitment to equity and inclusion in a professional capacity for decades. She came to Pitt in 2005 to serve as Vice Provost and Dean of Students, and over the past 16 years, she’s clearly left her mark. Pitt’s Community Engagement Center in Homewood represents one of the major examples of Dr. Humphrey’s footprint.

“We knew the impact the university could have if we were willing to share our resources, share our teaching that creates service in this community. And we knew that this community center could possibly be another beacon in Homewood if indeed we would put the energy and the resources into making something great happen in this community,” Dr. Humphrey said in Oct. 2019, the one-year  anniversary of the center’s opening, located on N. Homewood Ave.

KATHY W. HUMPHREY, PH.D., was honored by the local organization Gwen’s Girls and The Black Girls Equity Alliance in 2018.

Outside of Pitt, Dr. Humphrey serves on the Board of Directors of Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Leadership Pittsburgh Inc, Gwen’s Girls and the Blood Science Foundation. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the International Women’s Forum of Pittsburgh and is Chair of The Forbes Funds. In 2013, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation appointed Dr. Humphrey to the Advisory Council for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, where she served four years, a release from Carlow said.

Dr. Humphrey is a past recipient of the Courier’s “Women of Excellence” award; the YWCA Tribute to Women Leadership Award; the Martin Luther King Jr. Creating A Just Community award; 2020 NABHI’s Lifetime Achievement Award; Chuck Cooper Foundation Leadership Award; 2018 Gwen’s Girls Equity Summit Honoree; 2016 Nellie Leadership Award; and the 2019 Onyx Woman Leadership Award for her contribution to the community and support of other women. She also earned the Pitt African American Alumni Council’s Sankofa Award, which honors community members who have offered outstanding education support to students.

Dr. Humphrey actually has an award named after her. The International Student Federation of Saint Louis University named the organization’s diversity award the “Kathy W. Humphrey Award for Diversity.” Dr. Humphrey served in many senior positions at Saint Louis University, including Vice President of Student Development and Associate Vice Provost and Director of Housing and Student Life.

Dr. Humphrey earned a Bachelor of Science at the University of Central Missouri, a Master of Arts at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a doctorate in educational leadership at Saint Louis University. Dr. Humphrey has also held positions at the University of Central Missouri and the University of Missouri.

Dr. Humphrey is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh, in the Hill District.

“I think Carlow is fortunate to have found such an exceptional leader who will inspire and motivate our Carlow students, faculty, and larger community with her courageous voice, effective skills and engaged involvement in support of our Mercy mission of service,” Davis, the university’s board chair, added about Dr. Humphrey. “She will ensure our legacy of academic excellence, particularly in the health sciences, while maintaining our foundation in the liberal arts, and providing a pipeline of exceptional graduates to the work force.”

“I am elated and honored to have been asked to lead an institution so committed to providing transformational learning opportunities for its students,” said Dr. Humphrey in a release. “Carlow’s commitment to ensuring its students are career-ready and prepared to lead a merciful and just world is an inspiration, and that mission is among the primary reasons I chose to work in higher education.”


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