What to know about Kent State’s administration

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Carrie Blazina

KentWired Video

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What does a university president do?

Can you name Kent State’s provost — or his recently announced replacement?

What group of people, elected by the Ohio governor, is the university’s decision-making body?

If you can’t answer these questions, you are not alone. Officials say students at Kent State are not aware of a lot of what they do or how the university is run.

Provost Robert Frank (yes, the answer to question two) said he is not surprised when students do not understand or care about the running of Kent State, but said that is not necessarily a bad thing.

“A student most often interacts with their professors … and probably that’s the way it should be because that’s the nature of the university,” Frank said. “All the stuff that my office does … we’re sort of behind the scenes like in a musical, making the whole production work right.”

Kevin Papp, executive director of Undergraduate Student Government, said just because students are not aware of who officials are or what they do, they are affected by them.

“Administration does affect us very much on a daily basis, I just don’t think our students are always aware,” he said. “Whether or not our students are aware of our administration, I really do believe the majority of our administration is working every day to better students’ experience here at Kent.”

Senior nursing major Jamil Adams said he thinks students have other priorities than focusing on administration.

“I think maybe sometimes we’re so caught up with school, studies and homework and everything,” he said. “A lot of students aren’t really interested in the way the school’s run.”

Freshman nursing major Madison Davis echoed Adams’ sentiments.

“I would say that [students] are apathetic and they just kind of go with the flow,” she said. “I think they’re mostly focused on getting through … getting it over with.”

Frank said the university’s administration is complicated and not always understood by students, but said that knowledge may not be necessary to appreciate the end result.

“When students do understand what we do I think it helps them appreciate … how complex it is and how hard it is to get all the moving parts working at the same moment on the same process,” he said.

Frank said appreciating the complexity of the university is similar to going to a symphony performance.

“You may not really appreciate what the director does, but you sure can appreciate the sound that comes from the orchestra,” he said. “You need the conductor to make it work. You need a provost and there has to be a provost there, but your appreciation of it may not necessarily be critical to enjoying the profit.”

Papp said there may be other understandable reasons students don’t know their university’s officials.

“I’ve also been a firm believer that when you’re doing your job right, people aren’t always aware of you,” Papp said. “I guarantee if the Internet wasn’t working well on campus people would know our vice president of information services pretty fast.”

Alex Riddle, junior communication studies major and marketing minor, said he thought the university should try to increase student interest in its processes.

“I feel like if [officials] were more available and if you could have lunch with the president or the provost, or even the head of our departments once a month … I think that would help a lot,” he said.

Sophomore entrepreneurship major Melissa Scaglione agreed with Riddle.

“I think that if administration were more visible around campus, people would get more into [what they do] and understand it a little more,” she said.

Frank said the provost’s office, under his direction, is not worried about that.

“I don’t think we should run an educational campaign immediately to fix this kind of stuff,” he said. “We’re very busy and whether students understand us doesn’t necessarily impact their lives that much … it’s not a necessary component of getting a college education.”

Papp said he disagreed, and officials should work to make students more interested in their work, even if they will never get to the point where everyone knows who officials are and what they do.

“You’re never gonna have a perfect world, but I think that’s not a reason to try to continue to make it better,” he said.

Contact Carrie Blazina at [email protected].