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Published: Saturday, 6/7/2008

BGSU names interim president

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Carol A. Cartwright, the former president of Kent State University, was named interim president yesterday of Bowling Green State University.

The university's board of trustees voted to appoint her and then organized a search committee for finding a permanent successor to outgoing president Sidney Ribeau. He announced last month that he would leave BGSU to become president of Howard University in Washington.

Ms. Cartwright, 67, who starts the job July 21, served as Kent State's president from 1991 to her formal retirement in June, 2006, and then stayed on until last summer to help her successor with the transition. While at Kent State, she oversaw that school's first major fund-raising campaign and eight years of student enrollment growth.

She became the first female president of a state university in Ohio when she began at Kent State, and she will become the first woman to fill the president's post at BGSU when she takes the reins from Mr. Ribeau.

In 1995, Mr. Ribeau became the university's first black president.

BGSU's nine trustees voted unanimously for Ms. Cartwright's appointment yesterday following a 1 1/2-hour executive session.

Trustee Chairman Mike Marsh said afterward that it was Ms. Cartwright's considerable experience in leading another Ohio university - particularly one with many similarities to BGSU - that helped her to stand out from a candidate pool of six "serious" contenders that was winnowed to three.

"None of this is new to her - it's all what she has been dealing with for many years already," Mr. Marsh said.

"We were very fortunate that she was available and willing. She should be able to hit the ground running."

The trustees set her annual salary at $300,000, a pay raise from her $270,000 Kent State salary, but below Mr. Ribeau's compensation of $313,763.

Mr. Marsh said he anticipates that Ms. Cartwright will be president for at least a year until Mr. Ribeau's permanent successor is chosen. Ms. Cartwright told The Blade yesterday that she is not interested in the permanent position.

The chairman declined to name the other two final contenders for the interim position, but he said one candidate was from within the university.

In a phone interview from her home in Kent, Ohio, Ms. Cartwright said she is leaving retirement because she believes her administrative experience can help BGSU continue the positive momentum it has had under Mr. Ribeau.

"I have always been very committed to public higher education, and this is another opportunity to contribute and make a difference," she said.

Ms. Cartwright said that during her Kent State years, she considered BGSU a peer university. She followed its progress, as well as that of Mr. Ribeau, whom she considers a friend.

"I very much enjoyed working with him on statewide issues while we were both serving as presidents. He leaves a great legacy at Bowling Green," she said.

In a prepared statement, Mr. Ribeau said: "Carol Cartwright will make an outstanding interim president for Bowling Green State University. Not only is Dr. Cartwright a respected colleague of mine, she is respected in the state of Ohio and in the nation. I am pleased to be leaving BGSU in her very capable hands."

Yesterday the trustees also appointed a 15-person committee to begin the president search, and they voted to seek bids for hiring an executive search firm that would assist them. The search committee includes four trustees, four faculty members, representatives from throughout the university, and one community member.

Trustee Bill Primrose will lead the committee.

During Ms. Cartwright's tenure at Kent State, enrollment grew to more than 34,000 students among its eight campuses. It is presently the third-largest public university in the state, behind Ohio State and Cincinnati.

BGSU is significantly smaller in comparison, with about 20,000 students on two campuses.

Ms. Cartwright was also behind Kent State's successful fund-raising campaign that by 2003 brought in $22 million in pledges beyond its $100 million goal.

Like Mr. Marsh, Ms. Cartwright also drew comparisons between BGSU and Kent State as institutions. Both publicly funded schools were founded in 1910 as twin "normal schools" by the state government. Their primary mission was educating future teachers, but they have grown into broad residential and research institutions.

They are also in the same intercollegiate athletic league: the Mid-American Conference.

Before arriving at Kent State, Ms. Cartwright was vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of California, Davis, and was vice provost and dean for undergraduate programs at Pennsylvania State University.

She holds both master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.

Ms. Cartwright said she will move from Kent to the BGSU president's house. She will be joined by her husband, G. Phillip Cartwright, a retired academic and a jazz musician.

The trustees have granted their interim president an expense account, automobile use, and guest house privileges. Ms. Cartwright said she plans to lodge in the guest house until Mr. Ribeau leaves the president's house for his new job, which begins Aug. 1.

Ms. Cartwright has been a leading member of numerous national and state organizations and civic groups.

A small sample of her past memberships included board of directors positions with the American Council on Education, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and the American Association for Higher Education.

She was also a past member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I board of directors and its executive committee, and in the mid-1990s was the MAC's elected representative to the NCAA.

She sits on the boards of directors of four companies with headquarters in northeast Ohio: KeyCorp, PolyOne Corp., FirstEnergy Corp., and the Davey Tree Expert Co.

Ms. Cartwright recalled how after finishing her undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, she started her career in education as a first-grade classroom teacher.

"People tell me that's where I got my good time-management skills," she said lightheartedly.

Her husband is a professor emeritus of the University of California, Davis, and a former associate dean at Northeast Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy. The Cartwrights have been married for 42 years and have three grown children.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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