Heisler Jr. to promote KSU brand

Kiera Manion-Fischer

President Lester Lefton announced on Friday he has just added a new position to Kent State’s staff.

Robert B. “Yank” Heisler Jr. will become special assistant to the president for community and business strategies and will be paid $150,000 per year.

Starting today, Heisler’s job will be to act as an adviser to Lefton, improve university ties to the business community and help foster economic development in the region.

Heisler said business leaders in Northeast Ohio don’t necessarily think of Kent State’s high quality education, graduates and research.

“(Lefton) has a vision of getting connected and the school being branded in Northeast Ohio,” he said. “You want to have an image of a university that is involved and active and growing and caring.”

University spokesman Ron Kirksey said Heisler’s appointment is important because he will help Kent State work with the business community in Northeast Ohio.

“He is one of the top business and civic leaders in the region,” Kirksey said.

Heisler said if business leaders know about Kent State, they will invest in its high quality programs and hire more Kent State graduates.

“I think it’s a very nice domino impact down to every student,” he said.

Kirksey agreed, saying Heisler’s appointment is especially helpful to students because more connections to businesses will give them more opportunities for internships, research and jobs. It will also help the university in terms of endowments.

Heisler said he won’t be able to accomplish it alone, but he will be able to give the administration a different perspective.

“I’m another set of eyes and ears,” Heisler said. “Maybe just another perspective from the business community.”

Heisler is currently chair of Team NEO, a regional economic development organization, and a board member of FirstEnergy Corp.

He earned a master’s degree from Kent State in business administration. Heisler has been chair of the Kent State University Foundation board of directors and still serves on the board. He said he’ll continue to help out with fundraising.

Heisler is also a retired chairman of KeyBank National Association and a retired chief executive officer of McDonald Financial group, both part of KeyCorp, a Cleveland-based financial services company.

Contact academics reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].