Lefton announces new provost

After seven months of searching, after four campus visits by candidates, after the withdrawals of two of those candidates and after allegations the candidate pool wasn’t diverse enough, Kent State has a new provost.

President Lester Lefton named Robert G. Frank of the University of Florida as the new senior vice president for academic affairs and provost yesterday.

Frank is currently the dean and a professor of Clinical and Health Psychology for the College of Public Health and Health Professions at Florida, and he will begin as provost July 3. His yearly salary will be $260,000.

As the chief academic officer for the university, Frank will replace the current provost, Paul Gaston, who announced his retirement last June and will remain at the university as a faculty member. Frank’s decisions will affect each student’s life because he’s in charge of academics at all of Kent State’s eight campuses.

“I look forward to getting to know (the students),” he said. “The few that I met when I was up there were wonderful. Students are what make a university tick.”

Frank was the first of the four finalists to visit campus on Jan. 25 and 26 when he met with students and faculty.

Steven Hook, acting chair of the political science department and associate professor, said Frank’s presentation to faculty was “very impressive.”

“He was very well-informed about the university and about the management of a large university,” Hook said. “He seemed to be very knowledgeable in responses to questions from other department chairs (and) the administrators.

“He appears to be in sync with the direction the university is going,” he said. “It should be an exciting time once he gets here.”

If there was one thing that attracted Frank to Kent State, he said it was the opportunity.

“Every part of the university is ready to take great steps forward,” he said.

Frank will be leaving Florida and making his way to Kent to start working early this summer. Although yesterday’s temperature in the Sunshine State was about 30 degrees warmer than it was Kent, Frank said he, his wife Janet and their two dogs look forward to the move to Ohio. He said the Kent State community offered a warm reception when he last visited campus.

“It was actually a big factor in our decision,” Frank said about the Kent State community.

Frank said he’ll miss the University of Florida, where has been for the last 12 years. He added that he’ll especially miss the community around Gainesville where he lives.

“We love it here,” he said. “It’s a fantastic place.”

Frank acknowledged the importance of research to an institution. He said he looks forward to expanding the university’s research and working with the faculty.

Lefton said Frank is a distinguished scholar with a strong endorsement from the search committee. He said Frank’s background in psychology and health sciences will work nicely with Kent State’s nursing and science-based technology programs, as will his appreciation for the arts and humanities.

“When put together, this spelled provost,” Lefton said.

Lefton said Frank has enormous analytical skills. When Frank hears about an issue or a problem, he’s able to sort through it and offer potential solutions, Lefton said.

Selecting a provost was a difficult decision, Lefton said, citing that there was a talented and diverse pool of candidates,

Elizabeth Langland of Purchase College State University of New York and Walter Harris Jr. of Loyola University were two of the four final candidates, but both of them withdrew their candidacy within the past month.

On Feb. 27, George Garrison, president of Kent State’s Pan African Faculty and Staff Association, requested Lefton abort the current search for vice president for academic affairs and provost and begin a new search. That request was denied.

Frank and Dean Timothy Chandler of Kent State’s College of the Arts were the final two candidates.

“The two candidates who were still standing at the end of the day were extremely skilled and brought great talent to the table,” Lefton said.

And now with the search process over, Frank said he’s ready to get started at Kent State.

“The president has set out a pretty ambitious agenda for Kent State,” he said, “and my job is to implement that.”

Contact administration reporter Tim Magaw at [email protected]. Contact libraries and information reporter Andrew Schiller at [email protected].