Our Leadership

President: James V. Koch


James V. Koch serves as President of Partners 4 Affordable Excellence @EDU. He is a Board of Visitors’ Professor of Economics and President Emeritus at Old Dominion University. He led both the University of Montana as President from 1986 until 1990, and Old Dominion University as President from 1990 through 2001 and was named one of the 100 most effective college presidents in the United States.

He has held teaching and research positions at Illinois State University, California State University at Los Angeles, the University of Grenoble in France, Brown University, Rhode Island College, Ball State University, the University of Hawai’s, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and the University of Montana.

Dr. Koch has evaluated more than fifty presidents of universities, including the University of Hawai’i, the University of Central Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University and the University of Alaska.

Dr. Koch has published eleven books and 100 articles in refereed journals. His research has focused on applied microeconomics topics. His journal articles on the economics of intercollegiate athletics, the economics of discrimination and affirmative action, TQM, and the economics of education have been reprinted and cited frequently. He has worked extensively on the economics of e-commerce. The Lumina Foundation published his study of the textbook market, Turning the Page, in 2013.

His research funded by the Kauffman Foundation examined the risk-taking behavior of corporate CEOs. The results were published as Born, Not Made (Praeger, 2008, co-author James L. Fisher). He authored America For Sale, a study of the purchase of U.S. assets by foreigners (Praeger, Fall 2009, co-author, Craig T. Bouchard). Dr. Koch served for several years as a member of the board of the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Company and its successor, Esmark.

He is the co-author (with Craig T. Bouchard) of The Caterpillar Way, an analysis of the success of the Caterpillar Tractor Company, a Fortune 100 firm. The Caterpillar Way was ranked among the New York Times Top Ten best-selling books in business in Fall 2014. He has a forthcoming book dealing with the causes of university tuition and fee inflation that will be published by the Brookings Institution.


VP for Development & Projects: Kristen Beam Witt


Kristen Beam Witt serves as Partners 4 Affordable Excellence @EDU’s Vice President for Development and Projects. Kristen comes to Partners with 15 years of professional fundraising experience. Most recently Kristen served as the Director of Alumni & Parent Giving and the Office of Annual Giving for Christopher Newport University. Kristen led the University’s growth in alumni participation from 8% to 20% in seven years, a 255% increase in unique donors. Kristen oversaw a Faculty/Staff Campaign that reached 95% participation, one of the highest rates in the country. Kristen also established and led major gift efforts for alumni and parents during Christopher Newport’s first-ever comprehensive campaign.

Kristen served as the Director of Resource Development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula (2007-2009) and began her career at the International Association of Chiefs of Police, managing their Gun Violence Reduction programs (2003-2007).

Kristen earned her B.S. in Psychology from The Florida State University and M.S. in Management of Non-Profits from the University of Maryland-University College.

Kristen is active in her hometown and serves on the board of her church, the Peninsula S.P.C.A., and the Peninsula School for Autism.

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