Former Iowa provost Montserrat Fuentes gives Kent State provost presentation

Montse Fuentes

Montse Fuentes

Montserrat Fuentes believes Kent State’s values fit well with her own, an issue she faced in her previous position at the University of Iowa.

Fuentes is one of three final candidates for the position of senior vice president and provost, and gave the final presentation Tuesday morning. 

In June 2019, she was named the provost of the University of Iowa. Only a year later, she was reassigned to serve as a special assistant to the Office of the President.

The University of Iowa Human Resources website does not list “special assistant in the Office of the President” as an official job at the university, but it does list “special assistant to the vice president” with a market range of $50,012 to $106,086. Fuentes has continued to earn the vice president-level salary of $439,000.

The reason for her reassignment was not disclosed by Fuentes or the University of Iowa.

Fuentes said she was looking for complete alignment of values and believe she found that at Kent. 

“I was looking to put myself in a position where I saw an alignment of my values and the direction that the institution is going, and that’s where I am right now.” Fuentes said. “I want to be able to put values into action, our words into action.” 

Fuentes also emphasized the importance of making higher education accessible for all students, a demand made greater by the pandemic. 

“Students and families pay close attention to the cost and value of an education,” Fuentes said. “We need to have that commitment to affordability and accessibility, while remaining competitive.”

Fuentes says that students look for institutions with a mission that speaks to their journey into higher education. She stressed the importance of enhancing university research and diversifying the ways in which the university receives funding beyond tuition. 

Fuentes, who is from Spain, double-majored in piano and mathematics and statistics at the University of Valladolid in Spain and later earned her Ph.D. in statistics at the University of Chicago. Her postdoctoral was spent at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. 

Chuck Swanson, Executive Director of Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa and colleague of Fuentes, said her background in piano and statistics will give a new outlook on the position.

“That background gives her a really varied approach to reaching out across the entire academy,” Swanson said. “I think that’s really important for the provost role.”

In 2019, Fuentes moved to the University of Iowa where she was a professor of statistics, actuarial science and biostatistics while also acting as their executive vice president and provost until July of 2020. 

Before her time in Iowa, Fuentes began working with North Carolina State University in 1993, achieving department head for the department of statistics in 2011. Fuentes left the university in 2016, and joined the Virginia Commonwealth University as a professor of statistics and biostatistics, as well as dean of the college of humanities and sciences. 

The three candidates will now be discussed and decided on by the university. Teri Balser presented Tuesday, Oct. 13 and Melody Tankersley presented Friday, Oct. 16

Megan McSweeney covers administration. Contact her at [email protected].


Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.