Kent State needs a ‘Super Cartwright’

The Presidential Search Committee has been searching the country for Carol Cartwright’s suitable replacement. The committee last week released the qualifications the next president should have, but this editorial board would like to make some additions.

As journalists, it is our instinct to be tough on leaders and politicians, but we cannot help but admit how much we like Carol Cartwright. The next university president should be another Cartwright with perhaps a few additions.

Since Cartwright took office in 1991, Kent State’s enrollment has gone up practically every year. For a while, Kent State was the second largest state-sponsored university in Ohio (in terms of enrollment). Kent State’s regional campuses have been just as competitive with other regional campuses in the state. We need a president who can keep the enrollment momentum going.

Cartwright and the trustees she worked with also took aggressive measures to increase enrollment from international students. According to the 2005-2006 KSU Student Fact Book, Kent State’s main campus now has 817 international students hailing from 94 different countries. Roughly 15 percent of Kent State’s non-international students in the past two years came from non-white backgrounds. We need a president who can keep the diversity momentum going.

After two Ohio governors under Cartwright’s tenure slashed state education funding like tires on a Honda Civic parked in downtown Akron, Cartwright and her team did a great job managing the university’s budget. Granted, no student enjoys paying $7,954 for yearly undergrad tuition, but according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Kent State is the third largest state-funded school in Ohio with the fifth most expensive tuition. Not bad. We need a president who can keep the budget momentum going.

But enough of the Cartwright lovefest. Kent State needs a president with a stronger academic background. Cartwright got her doctorate and master’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. She came from a great school no doubt, but let’s see if we can get someone with some stronger schooling. A strong academic background is one of the many requirements that the Faculty Senate has pushed for and this editorial board would like to push for the same.

One of the things we didn’t like about Carol Cartwright was her approachability. She was a great leader, but how many students felt they could just walk up to her and have a chat? The “Coffee with Cartwright” sessions the Undergraduate Student Senate put on once a semester don’t seem to be enough for us.

Granted, a university president may be way too busy to sit down with every student on a day-to-day basis, but it would be nice to see a president with more people skills for the MTV generation. Many politicians win offices just because they can connect with their constituents.

Finally, we want a president that can bring some of the necessary changes that Cartwright hasn’t yet brought. We want the Pan-African studies program to finally get a respectable building. We want to stop hearing stories about stolen laptops containing thousands of student records. Most importantly, we want a president who can make an effort to make this university the best damn college in the state. Our requests might be a bit much, but this university deserves nothing less.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.