Kirksey looks to pursue new ventures, old hobbies

Jackie Valley

Ron Kirksey, executive director of university communications and marketing, will retire April 30. Kirksey worked for ten years at Kent State. Katie Roupe | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

His career brought him to the army, the Akron Beacon Journal and finally to Kent State, but now, the University’s longtime spokesman, Ron Kirksey, plans to take a break – at least a little bit.

After 10 years at Kent State, Kirksey, executive director of university communications and marketing, will retire April 30.

The next day he plans to begin his next career venture – a home-based freelance writing and consulting business called Kirksey Communications.

“It seemed like a long while coming, but now it’s here,” he said. “I knew when I came here 10 years ago, I’d stay for 10 years.”

But Kathy Stafford, vice president for University Relations, said the man known for his pleasant personality will be missed in the executive offices.



When: April 30 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Where: Room 306 of the

Student Center

“The camaraderie around the office won’t be as strong without him around,” she said.

Kirksey, who said he never planned career moves in advance, called his decision to come to Kent State a decade ago “one good thing I fell into” while pursuing his master’s degree in journalism here.

“I just think higher education is a really good cause,” he said. “You don’t want to do public relations for just anything.”

Part of Kirksey’s role as university spokesman is to convey information about Kent State to the public and media, President Emeritus Carol Cartwright said, who worked with him for eight years.

“It’s difficult to be in the eye of the storm, and I think he’s handled it very well,” Cartwright said.

In addition, Stafford said Kirksey’s strong writing skills enhance his ability to interact with the University and media community.

“I’m always amazed at how he can take a complex subject and make it understandable,” she said.

Before coming to Kent State, Kirksey spent 16 years at the Akron Beacon Journal, where he was one of the lead writers for a yearlong project about race relations that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service.

“I was probably in the field myself six months doing reporting and writing,” he said. “Those were the fun things.”

During his time at the Beacon Journal, Kirksey said he was the chief editorial writer for nine years. Before moving to Akron, he worked at several newspapers in Tennessee and as an army journalist at the Fort Hood base in Texas.

“You move a lot when you’re a young journalist,” he said. “My wife and I lived in seven different places in five years.”

Kirksey said he will miss his co-workers and the atmosphere associated with being on a college campus.

“I never thought I’d be on a campus,” he said.

Leaving academia, however, will allow Kirksey to spend more time outdoors pursuing his fly fishing hobby – an activity Cartwright is sure he will manage to squeeze in despite his new home business.

“I bet he’ll make some time for fishing,” she said.

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].