Virginia Commonwealth provost selected as next Kent State University president (with photo gallery)

By Jeremy Nobile | Staff Writer Published:

Video courtesy of Kent State Media Relations.

Kent State University named Beverly J. Warren to succeed President Lester A. Lefton on Wednesday.

Warren, 65, is provost and senior vice president of Virginia Commonwealth University. She will assume the post July 1 when Lefton, who has served as KSU's president since July 2006, retires.

Warren has signed a three-year contract with an annual base salary of $450,000. Under the contract, she will be eligible for incentive payments of up to $75,000 annually based on achievement of mutually agreed upon objectives. She also will receive a one-time supplemental payment of $30,000.

Warren will move into KSU's official presidential home at 1501 Elizabeth Court -- a house built by Lefton -- and will be compensated for moving expenses.

Referencing the high-profile search process, Warren told a packed house at Rockwell Hall, "I feel like jumping out of a gift box or something."

"A university is really formed by its people, and I have been so impressed with the people of Kent State University," she said. "My pledge is a 24/7, high-energy commitment to this institution and to the ideals that I know you articulated to me and want to see for the best future for this university."

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Warren is KSU's second female president. She follows Carol Cartwright, who served from 1991 to 2006. Warren will be the university's 12th president overall -- a designation honored by a No. 12 Golden Flashes jersey given to her by the KSU Board of Trustees.

Richard Marsh, KSU trustee and chairman of the 17-member presidential search committee that recruited Warren, said the panel was looking for three qualities: An outstanding academic leader; someone with strong administrative experience; and someone who can connect with people to foster inspiration.

"Bev really had all three of those elements in a really unbeatable package," he said.

"She's a proven leader with great passion for academic success," he added. "She has a warm and engaging personality. I'm sure students, faculty and all members of the greater Kent community will find her to be a visionary and an inspiring leader."

Warren has more than 25 years in higher education leadership. She has served as provost and senior vice president at VCU since 2011 and interim provost since April 2010.

"When you examine her professional resume, you will see an incredible commitment to academic excellence," said KSU Trustee Vice-Chairman Dennis Eckart. "When you come in contact with President Warren, you are going to be inspired by her."

Most recently, Warren joined VCU in 2000 as a professor and the head of its School of Education's Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She has held several senior leadership positions at VCU. She was appointed dean of the School of Education in January 2007 after serving as interim dean since July 2005 and associate dean for faculty affairs since 2003.

Warren is a fellow at the American College of Sports Medicine and is an executive member of the national cradle to career educational partnership network.

FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Beverly Warren Appointed Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs via VCU News

VCU provost named president of Kent State University via Richmond Times-Dispatch

VCU promotes three VPs; another leaving via Richmond Times-Dispatch

Lefton said Warren's "experience, energy, optimism and willingness to listen and learn are a fitting match for our community."

"I know I'll be passing this torch of leadership with confidence that the future of this magnificent institution is secure," he added.

Lefton announced his retirement last April. The search for his successor began in earnest in July.

An application from Warren was not included in a package of 21 applications KSU turned over to the media following public records requests in December.

Marsh noted Warren was the only person nominated for the role by trustees. The university did not disclose a list of presidential finalists.

Questions about the search process have been deferred to the university's Office of General Counsel, which is compiling documents related to the search for a records request made by the Record-Courier.

The presidential announcement comes less than a week before students and faculty report for the start of the spring semester.

"While we realize classes were not yet in session, Dr. Warren will be back on campus regularly to meet with students, faculty, staff and others," said KSU spokesman Eric Mansfield. "She will even sit in the student section for part of (Wednesday) night's basketball game at the M.A.C Center to begin to embrace our students."

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Press conference quotes:

On challenges to be faced at Kent State:

"What we are facing is that Kent State is the best kept secret not only in northeast Ohio, but also around the country," Warren said. "We need to do something about that. I, for one, think we need to adjust and say we are not the best kept secret -- so what is the way we can tell our message far and wide?"

On being a visible president at Kent State:

"I'm going to be an engaged individual with students, finding out what it is that you think we need to do better. And I hope you might say sometimes what we are doing well."

On communicating with students and faculty:

"I think you know that sometimes we might not agree, but I hope we will respect one another through that process."

On enhancing college affordability:

"One thing I think we have to do is diversify our resources. Most institutions in higher education are dependent on state funding, and that state funding plummets, institutions are compelled to look at different ways to provide revenue that students, faculty, staff deserve and that we need to run an institution."

"I think it's also vitally important to look into philanthropy to increase our endowment. One thing we can do to assist affordability is that scholarship base."

On the state's performance funding model:

"I think performance funding is going to be with us forever. The challenge of us who are in higher administration is it seems as if the accountability has increased as the funding has declined. But it is what it is."

"There ought to be a way that we can balance that performance funding with mission goals of what the institutions are about."

On making an impact at Kent State:

"I think making an impact based part on President Lefton's great work in making sure infrastructure is ready, is now, what is going inside those buildings? How do we attract talent? How do we define that?"

"We need to engage the community in a sound dialogue about that."

"In higher education, we can talk forever, and there has to be some action. So, very quickly after we talk this through, what is going to be our action plans?

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  • Most recently, Warren joined VCU in 2000 as a professor and "the head of its School of Education's Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation".

    Sounds like a High Priced Gym teacher.