VCU provost leaving for Kent State presidency

Provost Beverly Warren will leave VCU at the end of the semester for Kent State. Photo by Liz Butterfield.

Liz Butterfield
Online News Editor

Within weeks of another senior administrator’s departure, VCU announced on Jan. 8 that its provost and chief academic officer Beverly Warren, Ph. D., will leave the university after this semester to become president of Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio.

Warren announced her departure from VCU just six weeks after chief operating officer and senior vice president David Hanson announced he would leave the university for an administrative position at the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H.

Warren made her debut and announcement of her new position at Kent State University on Wednesday, Jan. 8. The university’s Board of Trustees voted her into the position unanimously at a special meeting on Wednesday morning.

Warren’s three-year contract with Kent gives her a base salary of $450,000, a nearly 43 percent increase from her 2013 raise to $315,000 at VCU.

“I think she was selected because she is absolutely reliable, she is able to handle and lead through almost any issue,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “She’s made great progress towards expanding the faculty and really helping to raise standards for our students, our expectations of our students, so that the value of the degree continues to rise.”

Rao also added that he was not  surprised by Warren’s decision to leave the the university.

“She’s so good as a provost that I knew it would only be a matter of time before she would want to take those skills to the presidency,” Rao said. “And although I selfishly worried about that, I believed that she deserved it so I supported her completely.”

VCU will organize a national search committee to find the next provost and likely engage an outside firm to look for candidates, Rao said.

Rao said he does not know of other staff members in his administration who intend to leave anytime soon.

“One of the things that will happen too when you get really talented people who are of national caliber … we have to expect that sometimes they will stay shorter periods of time than you would like,” Rao said. “So the provost has my full support for pursuing this.”

The university administration, the work of the Board of Visitors and the progress of the Quest for Distinction will go uninterrupted despite the personnel changes, Rao said.

“I feel really good about what we’ve done, but I feel even better about where we can head now,” Rao said.

Kent State’s current president, Lester A. Lefton, announced he would retire early last spring, giving the university 15 months to fill his position, said university spokesperson Eric Mansfield. A 17-person committee of students, faculty and staff worked with an outside agency to conduct a national search of potential candidates. Over the next six months, Warren will be working to get to know the Kent community better to shape her priorities, Mansfield said.

“Her credentials fit exactly what the Board said we need in our next leader,” Mansfield said. “We can’t wait for her to get started.”

Warren has more than 25 years experience in higher education. Rao promoted Warren to Provost of VCU in 2011, after she served as interim provost in 2010. Warren first came to VCU in 2000 as a professor and division head of the School of Education’s Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Warren has also held leadership positions at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C, Appalachian State University in Boone N.C. She was also a faculty member at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Ala., according to a VCU statement.

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