Kathryn A. Morris was appointed the 19th president of St. Lawrence University on February 4, 2021, following a unanimous vote by the St. Lawrence University Board of Trustees. She will succeed St. Lawrence President William L. Fox ’75 and will assume the presidency on July 1, 2021.
Morris has dedicated her life to higher education and chose to become a professor because she understood the impact of teaching and mentoring on students’ lives. She comes to St. Lawrence after a distinguished career at Butler University, where she has most recently served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for the past eight years. In that role, she has been responsible for leading six academic colleges, played a critical role in strategic planning, and led two Presidential Commissions on diversity and on sexual assault. At Butler, she helped to drive key institutional priorities including enrollment growth, and launch a $250 million comprehensive campaign. During the past year, she has demonstrated outstanding leadership as a key part of the COVID-19 pandemic response team at Butler and oversaw the development of the “pivot pedagogy” summer program to prepare faculty for the 2020-21 academic year.
She was at the forefront of projects, initiatives, and campaigns that required innovative thinking and affected every member of the Butler community. Morris has helped guide the Butler 2020 strategic plan through development, implementation, and completion, as well as Butler Beyond, the University’s new strategic direction, and comprehensive fundraising campaign. She has led initiatives to launch new innovative academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and been closely involved in efforts that set the stage for a broader and enhanced institutional reputation at Butler, including enrollment management and fundraising initiatives.
Morris sought out ways to continually enhance the academic experience at Butler by making significant investments in academic technology, including the transition to two new learning management systems, a faculty activity reporting system, and a forthcoming student success platform. She also developed pathways for career advancement for non-tenure-track faculty, created a faculty recognition program, and implemented the first staff development program at Butler.
Morris’ deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is evident in the leadership role she played with Butler’s 2014-2015 Presidential Commission on Diversity, as well as the adoption of a university-wide academic requirement, the campus programming she developed, and the National Science Foundation-funded research on prejudice reduction she enthusiastically pursued while a faculty member. She put a substantive focus on enhancing the representational diversity of the faculty in an effort to create a faculty body that is as racially and ethnically diverse as the student body.
Prior to her time as provost, Morris served as a professor of psychology and was chair of that department at Butler. Her areas of expertise include social psychology, the psychology of gender, methodology, and statistics. Morris is a charter member and the first president of Butler's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and has received numerous honors and awards during her time at Butler.
Morris earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gettysburg College and both master‘s and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She has also served as a member of the board of trustees at her undergraduate alma mater since 2015.
Morris will move to Canton this summer with her husband, Brian Giesler, who is a member of the psychology department at Butler University. They have two children: a son, Logan, who is a senior at Augustana College, and a daughter, Erin, who is a sophomore at Butler University. They will be joined in Canton by their dog, Comet, who is a black lab mix rescue.