“Together We’ll Stand Tall”


President Beverly Warren reaches to shake the hand of a Flash Guide outside the Kent State Student Center on July 1, 2014. Warren spent her first day focusing on university students. 

Emily Mills

Kent State’s 12th president hopes her legacy can be summed up in two words: engaged and caring.

Beverly Warren, who began her term Tuesday, said she is excited to meet with and get to know students, colleagues and community leaders.

“I’ve been waiting for so long,” she said in a meeting with student media Tuesday morning. “I think all of you know, Jan. 8 was the announcement, so from January 8 to July 1 has felt like a very, very long journey. To finally be here on July 1, starting as your president feels great.”

Warren, 65, succeeds outgoing president Lester Lefton, who has been head of the university since July 2006. Lefton’s original contract was effective through June 30, 2011, and was extended to June 30, 2014.

Lefton plans to start LeftonGroup, a higher-education consulting firm, in his retirement.

Warren’s three-year contract, which she signed on Jan. 8, gives her the presidential house, located at 1501 Elizabeth Court, which she is required by the university to live in; a car and a $1,500 a month automobile allowance; 30 days paid vacation; and a base salary of $450,000, which is more than $40,000 more than Lefton received, according to a previously published Daily Kent Stater article. She is eligible to earn an additional $75,000 per year in bonuses.

Dennis Eckart, the new chair of the Board of Trustees, said he is excited to begin working with Warren.

“There are times and places,” he said, “where history seems to almost conspire to bring the right people and the right places together.”

With rising tuition costs and student debt, Warren and her cabinet, along with Eckart and the Board of Trustees, have a lot to discuss in her first few months.

However, she said it’s important not to sacrifice quality for cost when it comes to tuition.

“The challenge is we really want to provide you a quality education, and that’s not cheap, and so with declining state resources, we have to balance how we continue to give you the education you deserve while trying to keep cost as low as possible,” she said. “We don’t raise tuition just to increase salaries of administrators. We raise tuition because you deserve a quality education.”

To better connect with students, Warren launched her own Twitter account, @PresBWarren, on Tuesday morning. She also sent out a letter to students, faculty and staff, introducing herself and explaining her vision for the university.

Warren, only the second female president Kent State has seen, began her first day in a meeting with student media followed by a brief private meeting with her cabinet, which is made up of the eleven vice presidents of the university. They met under the Esplanade arch to meet with city leaders, including Mayor Jerry Fiala, City Manager Dave Ruller and Kent City Police Chief Michelle Lee, then all traveled to the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center for breakfast.

During breakfast Warren said, “early in the day we got together as a community to say, together we’ll stand tall.”

Warren, Eckart and several Flash Guides then traveled back through campus along the Esplanade, making various stops around campus, then ate lunch in the Hub.

Warren and her cabinet then boarded a bus to head to Kent State’s Ashtabula regional campus for meetings with administrators, where she will remain the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday morning. The stop at the Ashtabula campus will officially kick off her Presidential Listening Tour.

Warren plans to make between 40 and 50 stops across the country on the tour between now and January, which she says is a way to get to know the university better.

“The first thing I need to do is to learn about the heart and soul of Kent State [and] learn what matters to those who care about Kent State,” she said. “We’re going to get out to see all of those Kent Staters who have moved on and live in different environments to find out what impresses them about Kent State.”

The tours will include stops in Akron, Orlando, Los Angeles, Chicago and Cleveland and started Tuesday at the Ashtabula regional campus.

Warren said she has a keen focus on the regional campuses and wants to ensure all of Kent State’s campuses, main and regional, are united as “one university.”

“We [should] all move forward with the same values, the same quality education, across our huge footprint,” she said. “I think we will thrive at every campus, including the Kent campus, if we can figure out the synergies of our relationships and how we work well together as a total system of education, and I think we can do that.”

Warren’s schedule for her first few days as president is full of meetings with her faculty, staff and community members and community appearances.

University Spokesman Eric Mansfield said she will spend most of the day Wednesday in meetings.

Warren will participate in a Fourth of July parade on Friday. After the parade, she is hosting a picnic for international students at 1:30 p.m. at Tri Towers to celebrate the holiday.

She will attend a Cleveland Indians game on Sunday.

In the controversial private search conducted by Pennsylvia-based higher education search firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates to find the university’s next president, Warren was not among the 21 candidates in a document released by Kent State’s legal department in response to a public records request at the end of the search.

The Daily Kent Stater received the documents on Dec. 6 after submitting the request on Oct. 9, according to a previous article.

According to a biography on Kent State’s website, Warren served as provost and senior vice president at Virginia Commonwealth University since 2011. She started at VCU in 2000 as a professor and head of the School of Education’s Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and then became the dean of the School of Education. She has also held positions at Smith College in Massachusetts, Auburn University in Alabama, Appalachian State University in North Carolina and Lander University in South Carolina.

Warren, who grew up in North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Master of Science from Southern Illinois University. She has an Ed.D. in administration of higher education from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. in exercise physiology from Auburn University, according to the biography.

The Board of Trustees is also recommending Warren for appointment as a full-time tenured professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Services.


Contact Emily at [email protected].