Provost candidate meets with faculty

Kevin Kolus

Honors College Dean Larry Andrews shows provost candidate Robert O. Frank around the honors college yesterday morning. AMANDA SOWARDS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

When asked by faculty why Kent State intrigues him, Robert G. Frank, candidate for senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said he’s impressed with the “renaissance brewing in the environment.”

During an open faculty meeting yesterday afternoon in the Kiva, Frank spoke to and answered questions from about 30 faculty members. The topics included how Frank, who is dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida, feels about retention, tenure track faculty and Kent State’s ability to change its surroundings.

“There clearly seems to be the stance that Kent State can invest in its future and community,” he said.

As chief academic officer, the provost is responsible for academic change and growth in Kent State’s future. The search committee for senior vice president for academic affairs and provost must make its final recommendation to President Lester Lefton by Feb. 15. Lefton can go with the recommendation, choose one of the three other candidates, or have the committee start its search over.

Not only is the search to hire a provost, but it is also to recruit the person to work at Kent State, said James Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information.

Frank said he is interested in the recruitment and retention of minority faculty and said there needs to be “an open and welcoming environment” at Kent State. He also emphasized the importance of taking care of Kent State’s non-tenure track faculty.

“These are people who should have contracts and be recognized as very critical aspects of the university,” he said.

When asked if he would stand up for faculty during issues with administration, Frank said his role would only be to “take time and analyze arguments” to help reach agreement. However, he said it would be unwise of the administration to ever neglect the opinion of faculty.

“The faculty wisdom is important wisdom to pay attention to,” he said. “If you go against faculty you do so at your own peril.”

Frank said he is a committed, passionate person and believes in the value that universities bring to the United States. He said he wants to be provost because it is a new experience and he feels he is ready for the position.

Contact academics reporter Kevin Kolus at [email protected].