Creamer nears end of KSU tenure

Jackie Valley

Senior Vice President of Administration David Creamer is retiring from Kent State at the end of semester after over ten years of service at his current and other positiions. He will be taking a similar position at Miami University. Elizabeth Myers | Daily

Credit: DKS Editors

New hires breed curiosity, inducing both optimists and doomsayers to evaluate the new co-worker – especially if the person in question commands a vice president position.

The same was true 10 years ago when David Creamer, senior vice president for administration, joined the executive staff. But Thomas Euclide, executive director of facility planning and operations and a member of Creamer’s senior staff, said the uncertainty diminished quickly.

“It didn’t take long to realize that he wasn’t going to drive the university into the ground,” he said. “Instead, he was going to raise it up so it would be successful.”

Now, Creamer’s time at Kent State is about to end as he prepares to start the next phase of his career serving in a similar position at Miami University June 1.

So far, Creamer said he has made one trip to Oxford to familiarize himself with the new position.

“It’s an opportunity to get to work with new people, to have new opportunities, new challenges and new goals to establish,” he said. “It’s energizing at the outset of a change like this because you have many things you want to get done and a new influence.”

Still, Creamer said it is always the people – “the relationships, the friendships you’ve built during the time you’re with an institution” – that make it hard to say goodbye.

“It’s been a very good period of my life,” he said. “I certainly have mostly good feelings of my time at Kent State.”

Shelley Ingraham, Creamer’s assistant, said his strong work ethic paired with his supportive and caring nature make him the best boss she has ever had.

“He demands a lot, but it isn’t anything he doesn’t do himself,” she said.

Susan Taft, associate professor in the College of Nursing, nominated Creamer for a top money manager award through Crain’s Cleveland Business magazine in the fall, which he won, after working with him on a project several years ago.

“I was so impressed by him,” she said. “Not even being in his office, I decided he needed to be nominated for the award.”

Taft said Creamer’s “generosity of spirit toward other people” – regardless of their rank or position at the university – is what sets him apart as a leader.

“He’s quick to share credit,” she said. “He does not take credit; he gives other people credit.”

Creamer oversees the budget, facilities, building planning and construction, bursar and cash and investment management among other responsibilities.

Before he leaves, Creamer said he is completing projects and documenting works-in-progress so that his successor will “have a foundation to work on rather than a lot of vagueness.”

Robert “Yank” Heisler, special assistant to the president for community and business strategies, will serve as the interim senior vice president for administration until the university hires someone to permanently fill the position.

Creamer, who has spent 20 years at Kent State during the span of his 30-year career, said state higher education is currently experiencing a “difficult period.”

“The Ohio government has created a lot of problems for higher education.”

Even so, Creamer said it can also be viewed as an opportunistic period, forcing universities to make conservative or risky decisions.

“If those decisions are successful, the institution can thrive in a period that’s challenging,” he said. “The risk is, if you make the wrong decisions, there can be penalties.”

Creamer said initiatives led by President Lester Lefton, such as improving fundraising, strengthening certain programs and better branding and marketing the university, are part of the plan to position Kent State during this period.

“These are all things that make sense in a critical period,” he said. “It’s the success of the implementation that’s important.”

Ingraham said Creamer will be remembered for, among other things, his level-headedness and the ability to make and stick by tough decisions.

“He’s the glue that holds it all together,” she said. “I feel that (way) but I hear that more often from people.”

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].