Schwartz to step down from second presidential position

Ben Wolford


Credit: DKS Editors

When Steve Michael arrived at the airport to start his new job at Kent State, he wasn’t expecting Michael Schwartz, then president of Kent State, to pick him up.

“He was somebody who picked me up at the airport,” said Michael, now vice provost. “His humility is something that came across to me in my first impression.”

Schwartz, president at Cleveland State University, announced last week he will resign from the position after next school year, even though his contract expires in 2010.

He plans to take a year-long sabbatical and then go back to teach sociology at Cleveland State.

Schwartz was president of Kent State from 1982 to 1991.

Looking back 17 years later on his time here, three features of his presidency left a positive mark in his mind.

“The relationship between the administration and faculty was in really good shape,” he said. “All were trying to do exactly the right thing for the institution.”

Another area was research, he said. In his last year, the National Science Foundation named a consortium of Kent State, the University of Akron and Case Western Reserve as the nation’s only Science and Technology Center for liquid crystal research.

And in his final school year spent at Kent State, the May 4 Memorial was dedicated.

But don’t call any of these things his own accomplishments. He’s quick to credit others’ work.

“You get wonderful people who have confidence in the institution,” he said, “and they can do some terrific things.”

Confidence was part of Schwartz’s reason for leaving Kent State and is now part of his reason for resigning at Cleveland State.

He said once he restored a sense of pride to the institution, he declared mission accomplished and moved on.

“It was all about restoring people’s confidence,” Schwartz said. “Confidence at a university is everything.”

Schwartz was named interim president at Cleveland State in May 2001 and then named permanent president in November of that year, according to the university’s Web site.

In 2004, he oversaw the opening of an honors college, and then between 2006 and 2008, he gradually raised admissions standards.

Through the course of his tenure, Schwartz worked to give the campus a facelift, establishing wireless Internet, restoring the 22-story Fenn Tower into a state-of-the-art residence hall and opening a recreation center.

“He’s a man of tremendous wisdom,” Michael said. “I called him coach because he was my captain.”

Contact principal reporter Ben Wolford at [email protected].