NSU Presidential Search: Kim LeDuff


Dr. Kim LeDuff brings a wealth of first-hand, extensive knowledge and experience as a top finalist for president of Northwestern State University. LeDuff’s broad, 23-year higher education portfolio includes work in key university areas such as academics, student affairs, recruitment, retention, inclusion and fundraising.

She currently serves as Vice President for Academic Engagement and Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida. She is a visionary higher education leader with a knack for building and motivating strong teams.

According to the current President of UWF, Martha Saunders, “Kim has a heart for students. She has demonstrated that as a highly effective professor and in her work as the founding Vice President of the Division of Academic Engagement at UWF,” she said. “She truly understands how universities work. More importantly, I am immensely proud when I see the positive impact that this has on our students, faculty and staff.”

LeDuff is well-versed in developing creative solutions to tackle higher education’s toughest challenges. She played a key role in raising UWF’s score, rank and reputation in the Florida Board of Governors Performance-Funding Metrics Model. This model scores each of Florida’s 12 public universities based on 10 metrics designed to incentivize university excellence and improvement.

The work of her team led to the most significant increase in academic progress in the Florida State University System over a five-year period. LeDuff has created partnerships at all levels to improve student success. She collaborated with Take Stock in Children and Gulf Power to support the Take Stock Collegiate Scholars program. Her team also successfully acquired two federally funded Trio Student Support Services grants at over $1.4 million each, which aids first generation, low income and disabled students. In addition, under her leadership UWF increased international partnerships and opportunities for faculty and student exchange.

LeDuff believes that it is important to partner with key employers and community members to make sure that universities are providing the most up-to-date skills and knowledge for the current and future workforce. “The future of higher education requires thinking beyond traditional degree programs” LeDuff says. “We must train students to be lifelong learners who upskill and retool over the course of their careers.”

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, LeDuff’s education and professional experience have taken her across the country, but she is ready to return home to Louisiana and lead Northwestern State University to the next level.

“I am driven by a simple desire to pay it forward,” LeDuff says. “I want to create pathways for people to achieve their dreams and become the best possible versions of themselves.”

LeDuff is also a Full Professor of Communication at UWF. Previously, she was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. She held leadership roles in the School of Mass Communication and Journalism there. She served as faculty at Hampton University in Virginia and Xavier University of Louisiana.

LeDuff holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Indiana University, an M.A. from the University of Maryland-College Park and a B.A. from Xavier University of Louisiana. She’s an alumnus of The Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University and earned the Fundraising Management Certificate from The Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University- Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Some of her honors include:

  • Leadership in Education Award, Pensacola Area Commitment to Excellence (P.A.C.E) Awards, (presented by The Greater Pensacola Chamber) 2020
  • Pensacola Power List 100, In Weekly magazine, 2017-2020
  • Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, University of West Florida, 2015-2020
  • 40 Under 40 Alumni Award, Xavier University of Louisiana, 2015
  • Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Diversity Award, Honorable Mention, University of Southern Mississippi, 2013
  • Heart of Hattiesburg: Women of Color Award, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, , 2012
  • USM Armstrong-Branch Keynote Lecturer, Race and Representation in Media, Hattiesburg, 2012
  • Educator of the Year Award, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Diversity, 2012