Keith E. Whitfield is a seasoned university administrator and prolific scholar in the fields of psychology, health, and aging. He became UNLV’s 11th president on August 24, 2020.
Whitfield previously served as provost, senior vice president of academic affairs, and professor of psychology at Wayne State University in Michigan. There, he was responsible for faculty hiring, promotion and tenure, and budget and policies for faculty and staff. He also oversaw student affairs, including student success, curriculum, and housing. Under his leadership, the university achieved remarkable gains in its graduation rate, increased overall enrollment, launched an innovation and entrepreneurship hub, and strengthened multiple business and philanthropic relationships.
An active administrator and researcher, Whitfield has authored or co-authored over 200 publications and has earned nearly $20 million in funding from agencies including the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the National Science Foundation. A psychologist and expert on the social, psychological, and cultural factors of cognition and healthy aging, Whitfield’s current research focuses on the relationship between stress and longevity in African American families. He’s a member of the NIA’s National Advisory Council on Aging, and he has served on committees for the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.
Prior to Wayne State, Whitfield served as vice provost for academic affairs at Duke University and held appointments as a professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, a research professor in the Department of Geriatric Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, and a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. He also was the co-director of the Center on Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research.
Whitfield is the first African American president in UNLV’s history, and oversees a university with more than 31,000 students and 4,000 full-time employees. He has worked in higher education for more than three decades and has received numerous national awards and honors throughout his career.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Santa Fe, a Ph.D. in lifespan developmental psychology from Texas Tech University, and completed postdoctoral training in quantitative genetics from the University of Colorado Boulder.