New provost says he’s starting ‘great adventure’

Christina Stavale

DAVID RANUCCI | SUMMER KENT STATER Provost Robert Frank sits on a couch in his office and talks about his plans for Kent State. Frank started his job as provost last week after coming from the University of Florida.

Credit: DKS Editors

With a week at his new job under his belt, Provost Robert Frank knows he has a lot to learn.

“Everything’s an adjustment right now,” he said. “The first six months are mostly just a meeting and learning process.”

But the former dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida said he is looking forward to what lies ahead for him at Kent State.

“It’s a great adventure to me,” he said. “It’s eye-opening, refreshing – all the things you want in life at once.”

Frank said he is proud of a number of things he contributed at the University of Florida, such as expanding both the research base and the number of degrees offered at the university, and building the College of Public Health.

After 12 years on the job, however, he said he is ready to take the next step in life as Kent State’s provost.

One opportunity Frank said he is looking forward to is the university’s growing research capacity.

Expanding the research capacity is something he said the University of Florida did well, and he would like to bring more people into the process at Kent State.

He emphasized the importance for universities to provide research in both hard science and social science, and for research to play a part in the classroom.

“The relationship between teaching and research is intricate and interwoven,” he said.

He also looks forward to the opportunity to make Kent State a great place for students. The first way he will address this is by working to improve retention.

To do this, Frank said communication between different parts of the university – such as financial aid, admissions and advising – is key.

“The system (for retention) is not broken, but there are things that can be refined,” he said.

Frank said he would also like to improve the university through racial and gender diversity, academic quality and technology. He said he sees any changes happening as “systematic evaluations” and not all at once.

“Lots of things are run very well; those are the things to cherish,” he said.

He is also excited about working with President Lester Lefton and said the two of them see similarly on a number of issues. Lefton said the new provost brings a great deal of experience to the job.

“He comes from a large university that is just as complicated or more complicated as Kent State,” Lefton said.

Coming from a university nearly a thousand miles away, Frank said his adjustments go beyond university life. He is still learning his way around campus and the city.

“I’m learning basic things like where the grocery stores and dry cleaners are,” he said.

Naturally a Gators fan, with a 2006 Final Four chair in his office, he is also rooting for a different team than the Ohio State Buckeye fans on campus.

“We’re (he and his family) still Gators fans,” he said, laughing. “We seem to be in the minority here.”

But he has his eyes set on the good of the country.

“If you can do good work here, you can do good work in the United States,” he said. “All the right pieces are at Kent State.”

Contact principal reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].