Carol Cartwright ‘delighted’ about board’s decision

Sean Joseph

Carol Cartwright, retiring president of the university, laughs while mingling at the reception for Lester Lefton in Risman Plaza yesterday afternoon. PHOTO COURTESY OF PAT JARRETT

Credit: Steve Schirra

President Carol Cartwright said she has known about the Board of Trustee’s decision to hire Lester Lefton, senior vice president of academic affairs and provost at Tulane University, as Kent State’s new president for a few days.

“As the board began to come to a closure on their decision, they started planning when they would make the announcement,” Cartwright said. “They didn’t want to disrupt any of the May 4 commemoration, but wanted to nail everything down before this community dispersed and went their separate ways for the summer.”

Cartwright said she is “absolutely delighted” about Lefton as her successor but did not know anything about him before it was almost official.

“I left it entirely to the board to hire my replacement,” Cartwright said. “But as they began to narrow it down, they began to ask me questions about the qualities our new leader should have, and I confirmed that they were moving in the right direction.”

Academic excellence will be Lefton’s top priority at the university, and Cartwright said there are many ways he can pick up where she left off.

“He understands the strategic plan that has been implemented here and that this is a large comprehensive institution,” Cartwright said. “What he’s going to do next is a very logical first step. He will get acquainted with the deans and directors and engage the academic leaders in a discussion about where we go from here.”

John West, vice president of research and dean of graduate studies, said he is thrilled about the perspective of academic success Lefton has from being an administrator at Tulane. West was a member of the search committee.

“He has clearly invested a lot of time into looking at our strongest programs,” West said. “He knows the importance of graduate degrees to universities that have such a solid research base, and I think that will have a tremendous impact on our graduate programs.”

James Gaudino, dean of the College of Communication and Information, said it is important that Lefton focuses on allowing each college, school and program to fulfill its own special purpose.

Lefton will be the external face of the university, representing Kent State to the state legislature and industry leaders at the local and national level, Gaudino said.

“He will set the tone for Kent State and the kind of leaders we aspire to be,” Gaudino said.

Contact public affairs reporter Sean Joseph at [email protected].