Top EHHS dean candidates present

Hannah Wagner

The top dean candidates for the College of Education, Health and Human Services (EHHS) have been visiting campus to present in front of faculty, staff and students in the final stages of the search.

The four candidates — Wanda Costen, Christopher Hardin, James Hannon and Benjamin Johnson — began presenting on Jan. 23 and will continue through Feb. 1.

Melody Tankersley, senior associate provost and graduate studies dean, serves as the chair of the EHHS dean search committee. She said the college searched for a new dean last year, but were unable to find a candidate that fit its needs, so they began a new search in late September.

“This is a great pool of candidates,” Tankersley said. “We want them to help shine the light on the college and bring more people to Kent State.”

With over 50 applicants, Tankersly said the committee narrowed the search by collaborating with faculty, staff and students from EHHS to see what they wanted from a dean.

“We sent direct email surveys to faculty, staff and students to tell us what they wanted,” Tankersley said. “The common theme was someone who was scholarly, visionary, enthusiastic and approachable.”

Tankersley said each of the candidates has a unique strength, ranging from collaborative work to a creative vision for the college.

“They all have a different skillset that distinguishes them,” Tankersley said. “But across the board, we saw them as people that could really bring out and engage all of the work that’s happening over there.”

Mark Kretovics, the interim dean of the college of EHHS, participated in this search as part of the dean’s group, where deans from all of the colleges get to meet and interact with the candidates.

Kretovics said he’s looking for someone who has good communication, administrative and leadership skills.

“It takes a unique individual who can deal with all types of issues and still maintain the unity in the college,” Kretovics said. “Someone who can feel as comfortable talking to a student as they do talking to the board of trustees.”

All candidates are required to do a public presentation on the topic of Leading a Complex College: Building Community, Enhancing Reputation and Securing Resources for the College of Education, Health and Human Services. Two of the candidates, Wanda Costen and Christopher Hardin, have already presented.

Wanda Costen is an associate professor and executive director of the school of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Northern Arizona University. Costen presented Jan. 23 in the Ballroom Balcony of the Kent Student Center.

Christopher Hardin is a professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, as well as a professor for medical pharmacology and physiology at the University of Missouri. Hardin presented Jan. 25 in the Moulton Hall Ballroom.

James Hannon is a professor and assistant dean for academic affairs and research in the College of Physical Activity and Sport Science at West Virginia University. Hannon will be presenting on Jan. 31, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the Moulton hall ballroom.

Benjamin Johnson is a professor and chair for the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky. Johnson will present Feb. 1, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the Moulton hall ballroom.

The Center of International and Intercultural Education Director, Linda Robertson, said she’s been going to all of the meetings to interact with the candidates. She said the college is very invested and enthusiastic in this search.

“Melody’s commitment to this college and her leadership of that search has been excellent,” Robertson said. “She has gained the support of all the employees here – staff, faculty and students — to participate in the process.”

Tankersley, who has 20 years of experience in the college of EHHS, says she can’t speak highly enough of the EHHS community for trying to be a part of this process.

“This is really near and dear to my heart,” Tankersley said. “I’m very honored that I got to chair this.”

Tankersley said the committee will gather all the information from the community after the candidates come to campus and synthesize the information to give their recommendations to the provost and president.

Tankersley encourages students to attend the final two presentations and provide feedback through surveys.

Hannah Wagner is the Education, Health, and Human Services reporter. Contact her at [email protected]