Words by Nick Shook
Photo by Leah Klafczynski
Virginia Commonwealth provost Beverly J. Warren becomes institution’s 12th leader
Kent State University has its new leader.
A confidential, national search process that lasted nearly six months and included hiring a consulting firm culminated in a public meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday morning at Rockwell Hall. Chair Jane Murphy Timken officially introduced its 12th president in school history in front of members of the university, community and local media.
And for just the second time in its 104-year history, the president is a woman.
Beverly J. Warren joined the trustees in a ceremonial walk down a staircase into the hall’s atrium, and moments later, Timken was proud to announce the appointment of Warren as the university’s next president.
Warren, who currently serves as the provost and vice president of Virginia Commonwealth University, brings a list of credentials that amounts to 20 pages and joins Bowling Green State University’s Mary Ellen Mazey as the second woman in Ohio to lead a state institution with an enrollment larger than 5,000. Her appointment comes after a tight-lipped presidential search that placed an emphasis on recruiting “diverse candidates, including women and other under-represented groups” according to the search committee’s message posted to the university website on Oct. 3.
The process was highly confidential, going without the release of candidates and inclusion of input from students, faculty and community members aside from a survey on the search committee’s web page. The search produced Warren as “the sole nominee,” trustee Richard Marsh said Wednesday.
Warren joins a university that made history in 1991 when it appointed Carol Cartwright as the first female president in Ohio. Cartwright went on to fill the same position at Bowling Green, and while Warren’s influential role is important to her in terms of diversity, she believes that above all, greatness is key.
“For me, I am a huge proponent of diversity,” Warren said. “I do think that when we have presidents who come in different sizes, shapes, colors and gender, it’s a good thing. That being said … I think it is a matter of excellence. Who is the best person to do the job at the right time. You might say, maybe the time is right now for Kent State to have a female president. I look forward to being the best president I can be for you.
“My gender will be important in terms of simply style and how I might comport myself. But I hope you will also define the presidency by its excellence and the really hard work that we all do.”
Warren’s presidency begins July 1.