Cartwright speaks out

Rachel Abbey

President addresses goals for university, retirement plans

President Carol Cartwright addresses students, faculty and Kent residents at yesterday’s State of the University speech in the Kiva. Cartwright spoke about past goals achieved and the future of the university after her retirement.

Credit: Steve Schirra

President Carol Cartwright delivered her last State of the University address to an audience in the Kiva yesterday.

“People were asking ‘aren’t you emotional because it’s your last State of the University speech?'” Cartwright said. “No. I expect I will be in the spring or summer, but today was a day to say we are really on the right path. Let’s keep it going.”

The State of the University address is typically a time to review last year’s events and set goals in place for the academic year. Cartwright stressed that she will continue working to advance on the university in the upcoming months.

“Every member of our community can take great pride in our latest (strategic) plan: One that puts the public good at the heart of everything we do,” Cartwright said. “I consider this blueprint for the next few years to be so important to Kent State’s future that translating it into action is ‘job one’ for every remaining second of my tenure.”

Cartwright, who announced retirement plans three weeks ago, said she has no plans of slowing down in her remaining time as president.

Steve Michael, vice provost for diversity, said he has attended about 10 of these addresses.

“This is where you hear the vision for what is to come, and you hear a celebration, a mention of all the things we ought to celebrate and be proud of,” he said.

The approximately 40-minute speech covered the last year’s successes, this year’s goals and highlighted members of the university. The address was also broadcast on the Internet with a link on the university Web site.

Last year, Cartwright introduced initiatives related to the university’s strategic plan, such as creating a 24/7 learning environment and realizing Kent State’s full potential as one university with eight campuses. While she said these initiatives were too large to be completed in one year, she outlined the steps that have taken in them.

To expand Kent State’s regional presence, the university intends to expand the capacity of high-demand programs, increasing the amount of availability to students, Cartwright said.

Among plans to create a 24/7 learning community, the university wants to create a wireless network and realign Kent State’s student and financial information systems.

“I believe we’re beginning to help people understand how the dots are connected,” Cartwright said. “People are beginning to see now how you build from year to year on these very ambitious goals.”

This year’s goals included increasing the planning for the centennial campaign and enhancing the workplace for employees, she said. While she said she is proud of the accomplishments, such as the NorthCoast 99 award, Kent State has had with employees, she knows the university can still improve.

“I want to acknowledge that in a number of ways, it’s been a challenging year,” Cartwright said. “One in which collective bargaining did not always go smoothly; in which a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall forced painful layoff decisions; and in which our community’s heart was broken over and over, it seemed, by the tragic loss of several truly gifted and giving students, faculty and staff.”

Cartwright also discussed her retirement plans, saying she has loved her time here, but it is a good time for the university to gain a new leader.

“I can tell you that the trustees, gladly, would have tried to make her an offer that she couldn’t refuse, but she convinced us that the time was right for a new president: Someone to take Kent State to its centennial year of 2010,” trustee Patrick Mullin said.

Cartwright accomplished a great deal for Kent State with her vision and passion, he said.

“Kent State’s values and the people who bring them to life everyday will help attract a very high caliber leader to become Kent State’s 11th president,” Cartwright said. “But that lucky individual is not here yet. So I’ll repeat that I intend to spend every remaining moment fully engaged.”

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].