November 3, 2020 – Following a national search, Washington, D.C.-based recruitment firm AGB Search has assisted in the recruitment of Melody Tankersley as the new provost for Kent State University in Ohio. Melissa K. Trotta and Ellen Meyer led the assignment.
An experienced leader, Dr. Tankersley has served Kent State in positions of increasing responsibility since 1993. In 2019, she was named interim senior vice president and provost. President Todd Diacon praised Ms. Tankersley as a strong administrator, particularly in her handling of the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and noted her work as a professor and researcher. “As befits a leader in the division of academic affairs, Dr. Tankersley is an outstanding teacher and scholar, who has earned more than $2 million in research funding, directed to completion more than two dozen dissertations and written more than 100 scholarly publications in her field of special education,” said Mr. Diacon.
A 17-member search committee comprised of faculty, staff and students, and chaired by Paul DiCorleto, vice president for research and sponsored programs, began the university’s search for a provost in mid-February. The committee’s efforts culminated in virtual interviews of three finalists that took place over the past two weeks.
“Our new provost has the extraordinary opportunity to enhance the university’s strategic direction, academic programs, resources and impact,” Dr. Diacon said. “I am confident that Dr. Tankersley is the right person to take on this role. Her strong leadership skills, devotion to students and their success, advocacy for the outstanding work of our faculty and collaborative spirit will help the university continue to recover from the pandemic and to excel in the years ahead.”
Dr. Tankersley has led the university’s student-ready college initiative, worked to increase student retention and improved recruitment efforts and the admissions process for graduate students. During the onset of the pandemic in March, she oversaw the university’s effort to convert more than 9,000 courses to remote instruction. Within the region, she has been a driving force in expanding institutional collaborations and community outreach, most notably with Akron Public Schools. Dr. Tankersley has spent her entire professional career at Kent State, beginning in 1993 as an associate professor of special education, earning tenure in 1998 and full professorship in 2004.
Cultivating the Higher Education Leadership Pipeline
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Established in 1910, Kent State is a large, primarily residential, public research university in Kent, OH. It is one of the largest universities in the state with an enrollment of 39,367 students in the eight-campus system and 28,972 students at the main campus. The school offers over 300 degree programs, among them 250 bachelor’s, 40 associate’s, 50 master’s and 23 doctoral degree programs, which include nursing, business, history, library science, aeronautics, journalism, fashion design and the Liquid Crystal Institute.
AGB Search, which specializes in higher education leadership, conducts searches for college and university presidents, chancellors, provosts, vice presidents, deans, university system heads and CEOs of coordinating boards and related foundations. The firm was founded by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges in 2010.
AGB has previously assisted Kent State in searches for the directors of the Fashion School and the School of Music.
Dr. Trotta joined AGB Search as associate managing principal in 2017. She has spent more than 25 years in higher education administration at universities including Harvard, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins in leadership roles that spanned admissions and enrollment, program management, executive education, and strategic planning. She has partnered with institutions on searches for presidents, chief financial officers, chief information officers, deans, provosts, executive vice presidents/chief operating officers, and vice presidents and vice provosts for enrollment management, finance and administration, institutional research and university registrar services.
Among Dr. Trotta’s other clients are: Allegheny College, Edmonds Community College, Emory University, Georgetown University, Northeastern University, Rice University, Stony Brook University, the University of Dayton, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Wayne State University.
Ms. Meyer joined AGB Search in 2017. She is a seasoned higher education administrator, having spent 34 years in leadership roles at art and design institutions. Throughout her career she has supported interdisciplinary curriculum development, technological innovation, executive and faculty recruitment and management, strategic planning and partnerships, fundraising, financial planning and oversight, exhibitions, facilities design and construction, and trustee and community relations.
Ms. Meyer has also initiated and fostered strategic partnerships with music entities and educational institutions, such as Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business, Warner Music Nashville, New Music America and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media