May 1, 2019 – Russell Reynolds Associates has assisted Kent State University in its selection of the school’s provost, Todd Diacon, as its new president. He succeeds Beverly J. Warren, who is stepping down after five years in the job.
The Kent State board of trustees appointed a 16-member search committee, chaired by trustee Shawn Riley, and launched a national search for Mr. Warren’s successor. To prepare for the search, the board solicited input from virtually every constituency: faculty, staff, students, donors, alumni, elected officials, the Kent community and others. Input received from these groups indicated that Kent State was in need of a dynamic, experienced leader who could build on the school’s vision and strategic direction, enhance academic excellence and research, strengthen organizational capacity and sustainability, and raise Kent State’s profile and prominence.
“After a rigorous national search, we have found that leader,” said Ralph Della Ratta, chair of the Kent State board of trustees. “Today, in a unanimous vote, the Kent State board of trustees has elected Todd Diacon, Ph.D., as Kent State’s 13th president.
“The board is confident that Dr. Diacon’s substantial contributions to Kent State’s advancement over the past seven years demonstrate that he is the right person at the right time to continue our remarkable momentum and progress,” chair Della Ratta said.
Dr. Diacon has 30 years of higher education leadership experience. In his current position as executive vice president and provost of Kent State, he is the second highest-ranking position behind the president. He joined Kent State in 2012 and is responsible for all academic functions of the university, leading the administration, faculty and staff within more than 20 academic units, including colleges, schools, departments and regional campuses of an eight-campus system that enrolls more than 38,000 students. Before coming to Kent State, Dr. Diacon served as deputy chancellor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He also worked at the University of Tennessee from 1989 to-2010, starting as an assistant professor of history.
“Dr. Diacon knows Kent State well and has a deep understanding of the university’s strengths and potential,” Ms. Ratta said. “We all agree that he has the leadership ability to accelerate our momentum in reaching our highest aspirations. Dr. Diacon is committed to advancing Kent State’s position as a top-tier public research university and our intense focus on strengthening student success, research and academic excellence.”
Recruitment of Academia Presidents Rising
Reduced state funding, rising tuition costs, soaring student debt and decreased federal research funding have all contributed to a dramatic rise in the role search firms are playing in the recruitment of university presidents and chancellors.
“The board of trustees would like to express our deep appreciation to the members of the presidential search committee for their dedicated service,” said Ms. Ratta. “The search process was very inclusive, and today we celebrate an outstanding outcome. We all owe a special debt of gratitude to trustee Shawn Riley, who has given so generously of his time and counsel as chair of the presidential search committee,” she said.
Established in 1910, Kent State is a large, primarily residential, public research university in Kent, OH. It is one of the largest universities in Ohio 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 of study, which include nursing, business, history, library science, aeronautics, journalism, fashion design and the Liquid Crystal Institute.
Russell Reynolds Associates’ global higher education practice is composed of former senior university officers, tenured professors and professional university staff, along with traditional business leaders, who work together to guide search committees through an orderly and transparent search process. The firm works collaboratively with large search committees of trustees, faculty, staff and students, balancing divergent interests while driving what it hopes will be eventual consensus. Charlie Falcone leads the education practice, including higher education, academic medicine and digital education.
The search firm has worked with a number of institutions of higher education to address their leadership needs, including Fairfield University, DePauw University, Bucknell University, Connecticut College, AAU University and INSEAD, among a host of others.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media