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Q&A with Kent State's new president
A visit with reporters leads to a broad ranging conversation

Tim Rudell
Dr. Beverly Warren meets Kent city and civic leaders under the arch on the new Lefton Esplanade
Courtesy of WKSU
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In The Region:

Beverly Warren took over yesterday as president of Kent State.  On her first day as head of the largest university in northern Ohio and second largest in the state, she talked with reporters, including WKSU’s Tim Rudell about the job, and the future.

LISTEN: Kent State President Warren on the first day on the job

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Kent State’s new president had her first off-campus public meeting on the Lester Lefton esplanade.  Warren said gathering with Kent city leaders on the physical link her predecessor helped create -- from campus to downtown --gathering at the arch was to show a continued priority for close community ties.

In an informal sit down with reporters later, she also made the point that that meeting wasn’t her first on her first day. “At 7:15 this morning I had students in my office.  For me that is significant; because we are, or should be, about student success.  I wanted to make sure that the student’s understood that I was accessible and that I wanted to be engaged with them.  So that was number one.”

Financial decision making
Students came up again when Warren was asked about campus improvements and capital expenditures. “We will work with the board to say ‘what is the impact on student success if we make this investment?’ And that could be for more faculty, it could be for more advising.  But it could also be for buildings that are going to enhance the educational experiences for our students. First and foremost: when we make a decision, what is the impact on students?”

KSU Arts and design
Kent’s new president had been provost of Virginia Commonwealth University.  It has oneInterior Rockwell Hall photo by Lester Lefton of the highest ranked arts and design programs in the country.  And Kent State has among the nation’s highest ranked fashion design and visual communications programs. “I think there is such great opportunity for the arts and sciences to complement each other.  And I would love to see Kent State follow in that interdisciplinary way where we look at the art and science of who we are as people.”

The question of the future of Kent State athletics came up, too. “What I admire about Kent StateKSU takes the field is this balance across sports; so that all sports are respected and have an opportunity to be successful. The guiding element will be for us to be competitive in our conference. Being competitive in the MAC, regardless of the sport, will be the marker of success by which I will try to work with the Athletic Director to make good decisions.”

Bully pulpit 
Warren also said athletic programs are often the front door through which prospective students and supporters are introduced to the to university; but she said some of that is going to be her job, too. Beverly Warren“One way to use the voice of the president is to articulate the distinctiveness of the university.  And, I think we can do a better job of defining Kent State.  That’s one part of the ‘presidential listening tour’ that I am going to embark on today, and go forward with for the next six months.  What is the heart of Kent State?”

Listening tour 
And, Warren headed for Ashtabula as soon as the reporters ran out of questions. The Kent State Ashtabula campus is the first stop in her plan to visit all seven Kent regional campuses…which is one of the first parts of her “listening tour.”

Related WKSU Stories

Kent State President Lester Lefton announces his retirement
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New presidents begin tenures at four Ohio universities
Monday, June 30, 2014

Kent State's next president looks at challenges for students and higher ed
Thursday, January 9, 2014

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