Diacon inaugurated as 13th President of Kent State

President Todd Diacon (middle) accepts the Presidential Medal from Nicholas Kollar (left) and Ralph M. Della Ratta (right) during the inauguration ceremony on Nov. 1, 2019.

Todd Diacon is officially the 13th president of Kent State.

“What a wonderful day to celebrate this institute…committed to the American ideal that with hard work and dedication, all people, both the fortunate few and the meritorious many, can earn a college degree and then go change the world.” 

Kent State’s newest president, Todd Diacon, remarked on the purpose and mission of the university during his address at Friday’s inauguration, signifying a new era for Kent State University under his new, but familiar, leadership. 

The inaugural celebration of Kent State’s newest president was filled with words of congratulations, appreciation and hope from the university’s faculty, alumni and students. 

Among the speakers were Faculty Senate Chair Pamela Grimm, Kent City Manager Dave Ruller, Cleveland Channel 8 anchor Wayne Dawson and many more state and university leaders. 

Diacon joined Kent State in 2012 as provost and served in that capacity until this past summer when he assumed the role of president following a national search. In his role as provost, Diacon was an advocate for college accessibility and affordability, something he plans to continue in his presidency.

Faculty Senate Chair Pamela Grimm said Diacon’s background as a historian, as well as the kind of person he is, has set him up to be a successful president.

“He is a learner. I think one of his biggest strengths as president will be the same thing that was a big strength for him as provost: he’s a learner,” Grimm said. “His role is really changing, but at the core…he really is just a decent person, he always wants to do the right thing.”

Grimm believes Diacon will push to strengthen the university’s relationship with outside businesses and government leaders as well. 

“We are a national and international institution,” Grimm said. “I’d like to see us move even further and I think Todd will be inclined to move that direction as well.”

Diacon expressed some of his goals and plans during his address, including: 

Making Kent State more accessible and affordable

A “student-ready” campus approach

Continuing to strengthen the town gown relationship

“Every student we touch graduates.”

Diacon, a historian at heart, took time to reflect on the historic impact of May 4, 1970 at Kent State and why, now more than ever, the lessons of the students involved in May 4 are so important for our community to remember. 

“(It is important) that we avoid polarization and poisoned discourse, that we listen first, and practice the skills of empathy and compassion, that we act as steered by our core values to treat each other with kindness and respect,” he said.

Undergraduate Student Government Vice Chair Steven Farhat, who spoke on behalf of the student body, said Diacon’s familiarity with the university’s goals and initiatives will allow him to be a great leader. 

Farhat addressed Diacon with the hopes of students to guide Diacon through his time as president. 

“It is my hope that you and the leadership of this university will continue to seek us out and continue to hear our voices,” Farhat said. “That you will challenge us to grow as leaders, and when our academic journey is completed, that we walk across the commencement stage better than when we first arrived.”

Diacon’s address concluded with stories of individual students with amazing transformative Kent State stories. 

“In the end, we are a collection of individuals and each individual matters,” Diacon said. “Our size makes us great, but it is our commitment to each individual’s learning environment and outcomes, that makes us transformational and that makes us a family. Flashes take care of Flashes.”

Contact Katie Null at [email protected].