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Kenneth A. Shaw, Ph.D.
Chancellor Emeritus and University Professor
Syracuse University


Kenneth A. Shaw is a nationally respected administrator and educator. He served as a university president for nearly 30 years, retiring as the 10th Chancellor of Syracuse University in 2004.

As a University Professor at SU, Shaw taught leadership at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. His consulting areas include board/president relationships, institutional change and CEO leadership.

Prior to joining Syracuse in 1991, Shaw was President of the University of Wisconsin System. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, Shaw presided over the 26-campus system, which serves more than 160,000 students. In addition, Shaw was Chancellor of the Southern Illinois University System from 1979 to 1986, President of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville from 1977 to 1979, and Vice President and Dean of the University at Towson State University from 1969 to 1977.

As Chancellor of Syracuse University, Shaw served more than 10,500 undergraduates and 4,000 graduate students on the Central New York campus. Founded in 1870, Syracuse University is noted as a leading student-centered research institution that offers both a strong liberal arts and professional studies education. Syracuse is one of 63 members of the prestigious Association of American Universities. During the early 1990s, Shaw led the University through the most comprehensive restructuring process in its history and set it on a course to achieve its vision of becoming the nation's leading student-centered research university.

His tenure at Syracuse led to an appreciable improvement in the quality of incoming classes, as evidenced by a 90 percent increase in the number of new students who come from the top 10 percent of their high school class. Attrition and graduation rates improved correspondingly. The $373 million Commitment to Learning campaign made possible numerous campus and programmatic improvements. Syracuse University was described in the July/August 2001 edition of Change magazine as “an institution that has been brilliantly successful over the last 10 creating a consensus for its refined mission, building an infrastructure to support it, and changing its campus culture.”

In 2010, the Syracuse University Quad was dedicated in his honor and is now known as the Kenneth A. Shaw Quadrangle, a reflection of his transformative role in making SU the thriving, high-impact institution it is today.

Shaw was recognized by authors Fisher and Koch as one of the nation’s top entrepreneurial presidents in their most recent book on the subject.

Shaw is the recipient of honorary degrees from eight universities and was awarded the NCAA's Silver Anniversary Award in 1986. In 2003, he earned the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s District II Chief Executive Leadership Award. He is a 2008 Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois, the state's highest honor.

Shaw is the author of more than 40 articles dealing with higher education and leadership. His first book, "The Successful President," was published in 1999; his second, "The Intentional Leader"—which deals with the generic understandings and skills needed by every leader or would-be leader—was published in 2005. A supplement to "The Intentional Leader" was published in 2009.

Shaw is a past chair of the New York State Commissioner's Advisory Council on Higher Education, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, and the NCAA Division I board of directors. Shaw also has served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the American Council on Education. In the Syracuse community, he was chairman of the Metropolitan Development Association and a member of the board of directors of the Unity Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Born in Granite City, Illinois, Shaw earned a bachelor of science degree from Illinois State University in 1961, a master of education degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana in 1963, and a Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1966. He and his wife, Mary Ann, are the parents of Kenneth W., Susan Shaw Gleason, and Sara Ann Buffet, and grandparents to seven grandchildren.