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Former Ohio State football coach Tressel is on the list for University of Akron president
So are heads of hospitals and other institutions as the search for the leaders of universities travels some nontraditional paths

Kabir Bhatia
Former OSU football coach Jim Tressel is the best known of the candidates for University of Akron president.
Courtesy of WIKIPEDIA
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Former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel has applied to be president of the University of Akron. His is one of 19 names the university released today, and the only one without a degree beyond a masters. Some of the other candidates are administrators of hospitals and other institutions – not universities or colleges.

WKSU reports on what universities are looking for these days in a new president – and notes it is not always a traditional path through academia.

LISTEN: The search

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Luis Proenza steps down June 30 as president at the University of Akron.  He began his career as a retinal neurophysiology researcher, and his successor could be the school’s current “executive vice president for student success,” Jim Tressel.  He came to Akron two years ago after being forced out at Ohio State following a scandal that led to NCAA sanctions.

In a letter to trustees earlier this year, Tressel said he would be an excellent transitional leader for Akron.  Now, he’s applied for the job, touting his 35 years of experience in higher education at Akron, Miami University, Syracuse and Youngstown State.

 oungstown State  is also searching for a new president, and last month, business and community leaders sent a letter encouraging YSU urging it to consider Tressel --  should he apply.  The letter was hand-delivered by Congressman Tim Ryan of Niles, who says Tressel has much to recommend him:

“He has the skill set that’s really needed to lead a university --  more of a CEO type (with) the ability to provide a big vision for the school, to motivate and inspire both the faculty (and) the staff as well as the community the university draws from, to energize the alumni base and raise the money necessary to put good programs into place to help the students of the institution. And I think those skills are very similar to the skills that a head football coach would have.”

Leadership qualities are not the only thing Jessica Kozloff (KOZ-loff) considers.

She’s president of the head-hunting firm, Academic Search, and says it’s all about each school’s particular challenges and aspirations.  Of the six searches she’s conducted this year, “In a couple of the institutions, the academic credentials were just terribly important.  Those searches were not going to consider someone who did not have that background, even if they had tremendous fundraising backgrounds.  One of my clients just hired someone from the Student Life division, rather than Academic Affairs, because their big issues were in enrollment management.”

Kozloff also says she’s found the quality of candidates increases when there’s an offer of confidentiality about the search process.  Tressel’s application to Akron was disclosed following a public records request.

Kent State chose its new president – Beverly Warren – two months ago. But it still is not releasing the names of the other top candidates to the press, saying they’re in the hands of a search firm, and the Beacon Journal is reporting that the firm had confidentiality agreements with candidates.


Applicants for University of Akron president:
  • Martin H. Belsky, J.D. Randolph Baxter Professor of Law, The University of Akron
  • Dennis D. Berkey, Ph.D. Former President and CEO, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Mass.)
  • Ronald V. Bucci, Ph.D. Interim Vice President for Professional & Support Services and Administrative Director of Radiology/Anesthesia/Pain Management, Akron Children's Hospital
  • Charles C. Canver, M.D., M.B.A. Chief Medical Officer, Presence United Samaritans Medical Center (Danville, Ill.)
  • F. Dominic Dottavio, Ph.D. President, Tarleton State University (Stephenville, Texas)
  • Jorge Haddock, Ph.D. Professor of Business, George Mason University
  • Leslie D. Hannah, Ph.D. Director, Cherokee Programs and Chair, Department of Languages and Literature, Northeastern State University (Tahlequah, Muskogee and Broken Arrow, Okla.)
  • Pamela J. Kalbfleisch, Ph.D. Dean of Arts and Sciences, Concordia University Chicago
  • Ronald S. Kaplan, Ph.D. Vice President for Research, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science and Interim Executive Vice Dean, Chicago Medical School (North Chicago, Ill.)
  • Stephen Lehmkuhle, Ph.D. Chancellor, University of Minnesota Rochester
  • Peter A. McAllister, Ph.D. Dean of Arts and Letters, California State University, Los Angeles
  • Ronald A. Nykiel, Ph.D. Provost and Vice President-Academic Affairs, University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  • Richard H. Owens, Ph.D. President, West Liberty University (W. Va.) and Trustee and Vice Chair, Columbus State College
  • Joi F. Patterson, Ph.D. Vice President of Academic Affairs/Chief Operating Officer, Calumet College of St. Joseph (Whiting, Ind.)
  • Michele Drabant Perkins, Ed.D. President, New England College (Henniker, NH)
  • Faye Ran, Ph.D. Professor of Literature, Metro College of New York
  • Cathy A. Sandeen, Ph.D., M.B.A. Vice President for Educational Attainment, American Council on Education
  • Scott L. Scarborough, Ph.D., M.B.A. Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, The University of Toledo
  • James P. Tressel, M.A. Executive Vice President for Student Success, The University of Akron 
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