Cartwright lobbied for university funding throughout her tenure

Rachel Abbey

University presidents serve more than just students and faculty.

They also have to work with athletic fans, parents, graduates and organizations, such as state and local government bodies and the Board of Regents, said Ted Boyd, chairman of First Communications and former Board of Trustee member.

“A university president’s job is almost impossible by definition,” he said. “You have to respond to many people.”

These interests can sometimes cause conflict, but some presidents, such as Carol Cartwright, worked well with external bodies to meet the best interests of Kent State, Boyd said. When Cartwright was hired, one of the board’s priorities was for the new president to get involved with regional organizations and companies.

Cartwright served as the director for companies such as Republic Steel and FirstEnergy, Boyd said, helping in hiring CEOs and creating strategies for the companies.

The connections Cartwright formed while working for these companies greatly benefited Kent State, Boyd said. Many of these non-academic connections benefit the university through donations or through political connections.

Cartwright is a member of the presidents’ council of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, said Cindy McQuade, assistant director of the IUC.

The council, which represents universities across the state, meets monthly during the academic year to discuss higher education issues and look for solutions.

Cartwright has always been an advocate for higher education in Ohio, McQuade said. Before finance committees make their budget decisions, committee members can go before them to make claims.

“She has represented the IUC before in the House and the Senate,” she said.

Cartwright knows the value of higher education to Ohio, McQuade said. She said it is important to both the economy and the quality of life, and this is why she works to maintain the quality of education even in times of severe state funding cuts.

“It was a huge time of transition in Ohio and in higher education. The tectonic plates really began to shift and the landscape changed,” Cartwright said. “My very first day in this office was the day of the first budget cut.”

She was able to see the university through these cuts and changes and help it continue to succeed, said David Creamer, vice president of administration.

“Her longevity came at a very important time,” he said.

Most universities in the state had two, three or more presidents over the nearly 15 years Cartwright has been at Kent State, Creamer said.

Cartwright worked on the IUC’s task force on statewide efficiencies, McQuade said. The group examined state-level procedures for unnecessary spending of money and time.

She also worked to utilize technology to further higher education, said Garrison Walters, vice chancellor for academic affairs at the Board of Regents. She was a chair of the Statewide Task Force on Technology in Education.

She also worked on the Ohio Learning Network, an effort at the statewide level to encourage online distance learning, McQuade said.

Cartwright’s external involvement differentiated her from previous presidents, Boyd said.

“Kent was kind of turned inward after the shootings in 1970,” he said.

Michael Schwartz wanted to give the university a more public presence in the community, Boyd said.

“Carol picked up when Mike left off and raised the profile of the university,” he said.

While McQuade said Cartwright will be missed, her work at the university and the IUC is not complete.

“There’s a long time between now and June,” she said. “She’s not done yet.”

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].