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Cartwright blazes trail in Ohio

Posted by [email protected] on March 5, 2014 at 8:35 AM


In 1991, Carol Cartwright became the first female president to serve at a state university in Ohio. As the tenth president of Kent State, Cartwright decided her presidency would include remodeling scholarship and committing the university to cultural diversity. Members of the search committee were quoted, as being blown away during the interview process--her "can do optimism," was exactly what the committee hoped to have in a candidate. The Board of Trustees was rumored as having a mandate to cultivate corporate donors, a task Cartwright met effortlessly. Cartwright quickly established the Founder Scholars Program, which grew to $1 million dollars a year after her inauguration.

Cartwright was born in 1941 in Sioux City, Iowa. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and her master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. Before arriving at Kent State University, she was the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of California at Davis. Cartwright also maintained leadership roles in a variety of other avenues, including the chair of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Higher Education and served on the boards of the American Council on Education, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the American Association of Colleges and Universities and National Public Radio.

During her first year at KSU, Cartwright was diagnosed with breast cancer, and was faced with the challenge of requiring immediate surgery. However, within five-days she returned to her presidential duties and would become an advocate for breast cancer research! By 1992 Cartwright developed KSU’s Diversity Planning Committee, which overtime resulted in more staff posts held by members of historically underrepresented communities. Additionally, during Cartwright’s tenure, the campus saw a wide range of expansion projects, including the development of what is now called the Wellness Center, renovations to various departments, such as geography, anthropology, sociology and the creation of ultra-modern residence halls in the 90s.

Cartwright faced some challenges during her presidency, including a rancorous relationship with faculty during a 1999 “protracted collective bargaining” disagreement where there were issues surrounding salaries and faculty members intellectual property. In 1998, students protested the university’s plans to change the parking lots adjacent to Taylor and Prentice Hall, an area close to where the Kent State Shootings of May 4, 1970 occurred. Cartwright later decided to place commemorative markers honoring the four slain students.

After fourteen years of service, Cartwright announced her retirement in 2005, but by 2009 she became the President of Bowling Green State University. In 2002, KSU renovated the University’s Auditorium and renamed it in honor of Cartwright. 

Source: A Most Noble Enterprise: The Story of Kent State University, 1910-2010 by William H. Hildebrand

Categories: A Legacy of Firsts, People, Acquisitions

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