Presidential Search Committee discusses goals, receives input about next KSU chief

Madeleine Winer

The Presidential Search Committee hosted an open forum Tuesday updating the university about the search to replace retiring President Lester Lefton as well as getting input about what students and faculty want to see in the next president.

About 30 people, mostly faculty members, filled the Kiva for a 46-minute discussion led by the committee’s chair, Richard Marsh, and vice chair, Dennis Eckart. Marsh and Eckart stressed the importance of open dialogue between the committee and the university community as they begin the year-long search to find Kent State’s next president.

“We want to stay open and receive feedback,” Marsh said. “We’re lucky that Dr. Lefton provided us the time to do this. Other schools do not have that advantage. We haven’t looked at candidates yet. We want someone who will hit the ground running hard and fast, and it takes time to find that right individual.”

Marsh said while the committee does plan to keep the search transparent, it also plans to respect candidates by protecting their identities during the process.

“It’s the only way we will get candidates to participate in the process,” he said.

Marsh said the search will be competitive as other public universities in Ohio such as The University of Akron and The Ohio State University also are searching for a new president.

“We have a lot of good things going for us, which is attractive for a presidential candidate,” said Marsh, who pointed out the school’s involvement with the city of Kent.

Faculty members said alumni involvement, enrollment, diversity and the importance of research funding were aspects they want the next president to see as important to the Kent State community.

T. David Garcia, associate vice president for enrollment management, voiced his concern about scholarship funding to continue to increase enrollment.

“I want to make sure this person has a view of where our enrollment is and where it is going,” Garcia said. “We have come a long way to fulfill that freshman profile. We need someone to go out and raise funds, so that there is more money for scholarships, and we can continue on the pathway to increase enrollment.”

Marsh said he and the committee are looking for someone with a deep appreciation for higher education, a lot of energy and commitment and someone who values diversity and is a great communicator.

Eckart said he is looking for someone who “is not afraid to fail.”

“This person has to put us out on the edge in a big way,” Eckart said. “It’s like we’re looking for God on a great day. We want to find someone who can get this institution to move at internet speeds. We need someone who gets that. We think we have a great sales pitch.”

Marsh said the Presidential Search Committee had its first meeting in July, where each member said what his or her priorities were in choosing the university’s next president. He said no candidates had been suggested, as the search is still in its early stages.

Marsh said the committee has created a website ( and a Facebook page where students and faculty can participate in an online survey, send an email to the committee and find out about and request open forums attended by search committee members.

Additional meetings will be held in August and September. Nominations may be submitted to [email protected].

Contact Madeleine Winer [email protected].