Provost finalists speak out

Morgan Day

Kent State is one step closer in its search for senior vice president for academic affairs and provost after releasing the names of the final four candidates Friday.

The four candidates chosen are:

• Timothy J. Chandler — Dean of the College of Arts, Kent State.

• Robert G. Frank — Dean and professor of the College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida.

• Walter Harris Jr. — Provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Loyola University, New Orleans.

• Elizabeth Langland — Provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Purchase College, State University of New York.

James Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information and chair of the search committee, said the candidates are qualified for the position of provost because of a combination of three qualities.


• President Lester Lefton

• Provost Paul Gaston and staff

• President’s Cabinet

• Regional Campus deans

• Regional Campuses Faculty Advisory Committee

• Committee on Administrative Officers

• Chairs and directors

• Provost search committee

• Undergraduate students, open forum, Student Center

• Graduate students, open forum, Student Center

• Honors College, tour

• Kiva, open faculty forum

( also available via Webcast )

Because of their experience, their academic vision and their management and leadership styles, “they each match the needs and culture of Kent State particularly well,” Gaudino said.

President Lester Lefton said the next provost must be aware of Kent State’s diverse community, be committed to understanding the diverse needs in public education and be able to communicate effectively with the administration, he said.

“If their view of where they want the institution to go differs from my view, it’s not going to work,” said Lefton, who will ultimately decide which candidate becomes Kent State’s next provost.

“The person has to be a solid academic leader,” Lefton said. “That means being a good scholar and a good teacher.”

Gaudino said the search committee hopes to have its recommendation for the position to Lefton by Feb. 15.

Timothy J. Chandler

Timothy J. Chandler is dean of the College of Arts and a professor in the School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport at Kent State. He was nominated and encouraged to apply for the position of provost by colleagues who felt he had “both the breadth of academic experience and the necessary intellectual and personal qualities to serve effectively as provost,” he said in an e-mail interview.

Chandler, who has worked at Kent State for 16 years in various positions, said although his academic expertise is in exercise, leisure and sport, serving as dean of the College of Arts has been beneficial for him.

“I can also perhaps bring a fresh perspective to problems, issues, concerns, etc., of the students and faculty because I am not ‘entrenched’ in the arts,” he said. “Serving as a ‘non-specialist’ (in the arts) is, in many ways, ideal training because a provost is responsible for all academic areas and programs and, inevitably, she or he is going to be a ‘non-specialist’ in the vast majority of those areas.”

Chandler said his greatest strengths are as a teacher and adviser, but his academic experience and knowledge of Kent State are qualities he believes a good provost should possess.

Robert G. Frank

Robert G. Frank is dean and professor of the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida. He said he sees the position of provost at Kent State as an exciting and interesting career goal.

Frank is already familiar with working with large universities. The University of Florida is composed of 16 colleges and boasts an enrollment of about 50,000 students.

“As provost, you have to deal with a broad agenda,” he said. “The experience I have had here will help me in that role.”

He was attracted to Kent State because of its educational quality and because it uses its regional campuses to reach out to broader constituencies.

“The central campus and regional campuses provide a model for the challenges going on in higher education,” he said.

Frank has been a dean at the University of Florida for 12 years and has seen the university’s budget triple, its student enrollment increase four-fold and research increase six-fold. He has helped build a major research enterprise and create a dynamic environment for students and citizens of Florida, he said.

Walter Harris Jr.

Walter Harris Jr. is the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Loyola University in New Orleans and was nominated for the position of provost at Kent State.

“I thoroughly enjoy providing the leadership needed to help guide academic programs to be as strong as possible, including providing a first-rate education for all the students — undergraduate, graduate, traditional, nontraditional,” Harris said in an e-mail interview. “Kent (State) would give me an opportunity to do just that.”

He said he understands the “multi-layered intricacies of a large, complex university and how to get things done.” Also, he is impressed by the number of people attempting to push Kent State to become more successful, and he said he can help to make that happen.

“In post-Katrina New Orleans, I would say my greatest accomplishment, which I believe will withstand the test of time, is the major restructuring of the university to face its new realities and to keep it a strong, vibrant institution for many years to come,” he said.

Elizabeth Langland

Elizabeth Langland is the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Purchase College, State University of New York. A provost handles many responsibilities, and this, she said, is something about the job she greatly enjoys.

Langland said she is committed to Purchase’s research mission, which is much more defined than Kent State’s. Purchase is mainly concerned with education, while Kent State has a “wide range of schools and possibilities,” she said.

“It’s the scope of the campus that’s really a matter of interest to me,” she said.

The enrollment at Purchase College is about 4,000, while Kent State’s is near 33,000. Langland said the size difference between the schools “presents some very interesting challenges, and with these challenges comes some very interesting potential.”

She said Kent State has the “right ingredients to become an even stronger leading institution,” such as its position in Ohio and “very robust research enterprise.”

“I do look forward to meting the Kent State University community,” she said. “I’ve had the chance to meet with the search committee, but I’m eager to get a broader sense of the campus.”

Contact safety reporter Morgan Day at [email protected].