Kent State faculty respond to her decision

Amanda Garrett

Despite periods of tight finances and tense faculty-administration relationships, President Carol Cartwright enhanced the university’s reputation, faculty members said.

Cartwright’s legacy at Kent State will be hard to top, said Philip Bos, assistant director of the Liquid Crystal Institute.

“She’s been a tremendous help to LCI and a great spokesperson for the university,” he said. “It’s going to be a great loss. She’s going to be very hard to replace.”

Cartwright, who announced yesterday her intention to retire after nearly 15 years as president, deserves credit for leading the university through record cuts in state funding, said Cheryl Casper, economics professor and president of the American Association of University Professors, Kent State Chapter.

“During her tenure, Dr. Cartwright has enhanced the academic reputation and visibility of our very fine university,” she said. “She has kept the campus well-maintained during very tough fiscal times for the university.”

However, Cartwright could have done more to improve the administration’s relationship with faculty, said Casper, who has worked at Kent State for 32 years.

“I think the administration’s relationship with faculty has been one of the disappointments of her tenure,” she said. “Relationships with faculty have not really been strengthened. The protracted contract negotiations were indicative of the faculty-administration relationship.”

Faculty Senate Chair Tom Dowd said one of Cartwright’s most significant achievements is staying in one position for so long.

“To remain 15 years as president of a university is quite a significant achievement,” he said. “Most universities change leadership with much more rapidity. Not only has she survived, she has showed impressive leadership during very difficult economic times for higher education.”

Another longtime faculty member, Art Professor Janice Lessman-Moss, remembered the first time she met Cartwright.

“During her first week as president, Dr. Cartwright came over to our house for dinner, which was a great honor,” she said. “We talked about the significance of the arts, and I was struck that night by her presence. Even today, whenever I think of her I think of presence.”

Cartwright chose one of Lessman-Moss’ textile artworks, “Whatever Night Steals, Morning Reveals,” for her office.

“I was very honored when Dr. Cartwright wanted to hang my artwork in her office,” Lessman-Moss said. “I picked out a couple of samples for her and took them to her office. Dr. Cartwright, along with her assistant Linda Hermann, chose one that had a blue-and-gold color scheme – which, of course, is perfect for the office of a president of Kent State.”

Lessman-Moss said Cartwright’s contributions to the University will be long remembered.

“I was shocked when I heard the news,” she said. “In one sense we all knew she wouldn’t stay forever, but I was still shocked. I’ll miss her.”

Contact academic affairs reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].