Now in her third academic year at the University of Redlands, President Newkirk continues to enhance the Redlands experience. She oversaw the launch of the School of Business & Society, the new School of Performing Arts, and most recently the University’s merger with San Francisco-based Presidio Graduate School, which will result in the new Presidio Center for Sustainable Solutions within the School of Business & Society.
With students as her priority, Newkirk continues to advance affordability and accessibility at the University through the Redlands Promise campaign, and successfully guided the University’s comprehensive $200 million Forever Yours fundraising campaign to completion — raising a record-breaking $207.2 million.
Newkirk introduced a varsity Esports program and continues to move the University Village project forward. She has also expanded campus innovation through the grand opening of the Fletcher Jones Innovation Center and maker space, completed the fundraising for and opened the Coach Jim Verdieck Tennis Center, and led the substantial renovation of Anderson Hall - the University's largest residence hall - and the University Hall space to welcome the University's new Esports program. She has also prioritized campus-wide upgrades to increase safety and accessibility for the entire University community.
In addition, she completed the development of the University’s new student-focused strategic plan, which includes a new mission statement and vision to lead California in providing a student-focused, personalized education to drive student success. She is also focused on transforming the University into a truly Hispanic-serving Institution in light of receiving a $2.9M grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
Newkirk spent her formative years on a cattle ranch in Missouri before attending the University of Missouri’s Honor College on scholarship. She transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in English in three years, graduating in the top 5% of her class while working full time. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from the Marshall Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary, where she served as editor-in-chief of the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law. During her time in law school, she served as an intern at the Newport News Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. She worked with victims and witnesses, negotiated outcomes for the Domestic Violence Unit, and prosecuted cases. After law school, she worked for several years as an attorney in private practice and at a Fortune 300 company.
Newkirk joined the Office of Legal Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2003. In that role, she provided legal advice to the Chancellor, the Board of Trustees, and faculty and staff on various legal topics and complex litigation. During this time, Krista was selected by her peers as a Legal Elite in the corporate counsel category by Business North Carolina in 2010. She was a graduate of Leadership North Carolina’s Class XIX in 2012. She served on numerous boards, including as Chair of the Education Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, the Institute for Social Capital, which she helped to establish, and the Women + Girls Research Alliance.
In 2012, Krista became the first Chief of Staff at UNC Charlotte. As Chief of Staff, she assisted the Chancellor in addressing the significant issues confronting the University, managed large-scale projects that crossed divisions, and organized the start of the University’s football program, including the University's related athletic conference change. She oversaw the strategic plan development and execution, ensuring that analyses were completed to facilitate timely and effective decisions, developed the agendas of the Board of Trustees, and developed the annual budget allocations.
Newkirk assumed the presidency of Converse College in 2016. Under her leadership, Converse enhanced its financial, academic, and cultural strength. Her accomplishments spanned developing an innovative strategic plan; launching its first doctoral degree program; expanding its master’s degree offerings; opening an extension campus; celebrating the 50th anniversary of Converse’s enrollment of African American students; establishing a campus Unity in Diversity Committee, which developed a targeted strategic plan which in part implemented a restorative justice model for incidents of discrimination; expanding athletics to include teams for field hockey, acrobatics and tumbling, and five new men’s programs as well as esports; and reaching record levels of Annual Fund giving and other fundraising, including the renovation of the University's theatre building. In addition, Krista led Converse through a thoughtful, research-driven, and collaborative process that resulted in one of its most transformative decisions: to add a coeducational, residential college in the fall of 2020, to change its name to Converse University on July 1, 2021, and establish the Converse College for Women.
During her time in South Carolina, Krista was a member of the South Carolina Tuition and Grants Commission (which she chaired), the South Carolina Research Alliance Board, and the South Carolina Independent College and University Board, including chairing its President’s Council. She also served on the advisory Board and task groups for the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce (OneSpartanburg), the Spartanburg Academic Movement Board, the College Town Board, the Globalbike Board, and was a Spartanburg Rotarian.
In 2020, Krista was honored as one of the 50 Most Influential People and one of the 25 Women of Influence in the Upstate of South Carolina and was named a Woman of Achievement by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal in 2018.
Newkirk currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), the Board and the Tax Policy Committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), the Board of Redlands Bowl, and is a Redlands Rotarian. She frequently presents at conferences across the country on the changes occurring in higher education.