Rarely has such an indelible mark been left by one person.
Dr. Siegel was an amazing leader and part of the visionary team that formed the International Alliance for Invitational Education. She has been remembered this month by many of our IAIE members and friends. As I reflect upon our last conversation at the 2016 World Conference, hosted by Jessamine County Schools in Lexington, Kentucky, I remember her beautiful smile and her sweet comments about how much she loved my red dress and my big, blingy starfish pin. "I need that pin", she told Joel.
Needless to say, as we plan for events in the future, Dr. Siegel's spirit and passion will permeate all we do. As we collect videos, stories and memories that capture her essence, I encourage you to share your favorite Betty moments with me. These special memories will be highlighted during our Leadership Symposium on the beautiful campus of Kennesaw State University.
Dr. Betty Siegel, beloved former president of Kennesaw State University, and a name synonymous with the school, has died, according to university officials. Siegel, 89, died late Tuesday afternoon. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Joel Siegel.
From her signature red spectacles to the Dr. Betty L. Siegel Student Recreation and Activities Center, Siegel left an indelible mark on the university. Born in the hills of Cumberland, Ky., in 1931, Siegel was Kennesaw State's second president. When she arrived on campus in September of 1981, the university was a small state college with an enrollment of 3,500 students, only a handful of buildings and no master's programs.
During Siegel's 25-year tenure, the university's enrollment increased, faculty and staff ranks grew, as did the number of degree programs and academic buildings. Upon her retirement in 2006, a 15-degree college had become a university with 55 undergraduate and graduate degrees and 18,000 students. KSU today stands as the third-largest university in the state with nearly 38,000 students. But her legacy is much greater than numbers.
Siegel wanted the student experience at Kennesaw State to be more than just a collection of courses. She wanted sports teams, on-campus housing and all the hallmarks of a classic American university experience.
As a child, Siegel was "expected to be the best," and she did not disappoint. Surrounded by strong women and men who inspired excellence, she became an educational pioneer with a long list of firsts on her resume: dean at the University of Florida (1971); academic dean at Western Carolina University (1976); and the first female president in the University System of Georgia (1981).Siegel retired as the endowed chair of the Siegel Institute of Leadership, Ethics and Character, and served as president emeritus.
She also launched a nonprofit foundation for global ethical leadership, and served as an adviser and consultant in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Once asked how she would write her own epitaph, Siegel replied, "I would like to be known as 'A minister for education'."