Kennesaw State's second president, Betty Siegel, dies at 89

Kennesaw State University is mourning the death of its second president, Dr. Betty L. Siegel.

Siegel, who died Tuesday, was 89. A cause of death was not released.

“The Kennesaw State University community is mourning the loss of one of its most beloved leaders,” President Pamela Whitten said in a statement Wednesday. “Betty Siegel has been described affectionately by many as a force of nature, and her energy, enthusiasm and passion for Kennesaw State University, will be long remembered. Without her leadership, vision and commitment to excellence, Kennesaw State would not be what it is today.”

Siegel began her 25-year term as president in September 1981 when the university was a small state college with about 3,500 students, a handful of buildings and no master’s degree programs. During Siegel’s tenure, the university’s enrollment increased, faculty and staff 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 Georgia with nearly 38,000 students.

Siegel was known to want students to have a total collegiate experience that included sports teams and on-campus housing, the university said. In 1982, the school established its first intercollegiate athletic teams.

Siegel’s husband, Dr. Joel Siegel, a former attorney and municipal court judge in Kennesaw, died last year.

Funeral arrangements are pending.