The BGSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday (June 6) to name Dr. Carol A. Cartwright interim president effective July 21. Cartwright will succeed Dr. Sidney A. Ribeau, who leaves BGSU to accept the presidency of Howard University on Aug. 1.
The president of Kent State University from 1991-2006, Cartwright has “all the qualities we were looking for, plus the Ohio background and a recent presidency,” said Michael Marsh, board of trustees chair.
“She has a wonderful reputation, and we are very fortunate that she is both willing and available at this important time for Bowling Green,” Marsh added.
“Carol Cartwright will make an outstanding interim president for Bowling Green State University,” Ribeau said. “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.”
Cartwright will live in the University Guest House until the University House on Wintergarden Road becomes available. “I’m very eager to get to Bowling Green and meet with people,” she said by phone Friday. “It’s a situation where I don’t think there will be a steep learning curve because I’m familiar with Bowling Green’s mission.
“Kent State and Bowling Green have a lot in common,” she observed, noting that both are preparing to celebrate their centennials and both have evolved from teacher training institutions and maintain strong commitments to that field. “Of course, we’ve also competed against each other in the same athletic league,” she said.
As president of Kent State, Cartwright overlapped 11 years with Ribeau on the Inter-University Council and, as a board member of the American Association of Colleges and Universities—which has recognized BGSU for its values initiative, commitment to learning communities and residence life—said she has followed the University’s progress closely. “I admire President Ribeau’s leadership at Bowling Green and look forward to building on his accomplishments,” she said.
Asked about her decision to return to leading a university after her retirement, Cartwright said, “I’m a person who’s always had a passion for public service and for finding opportunities to make a difference. It’s difficult to turn off passion like that after 41 years of devoting your life to something you believe in,” she said, adding that she has continued to serve on many boards and stay involved in higher education.
The first woman president of a state university in Ohio, Cartwright was Kent State’s 10th president, overseeing one of the country’s largest university systems, with eight campuses serving more than 34,000 students. Kent State is one of the largest employers in northeast Ohio, with more than 4,600 full- and part-time faculty and staff.
“I enjoy being part of a team of people who work together to solve complex problems,” Cartwright said. “I’m confident that we’ll quickly build a good team and get on with the work that needs to be done at Bowling Green.
“Even though this is an interim position, Bowling Green, or any institution, cannot sit by and wait. There are decisions that must be made and challenges to be tackled. This is very much a full-time job. People will see a lot of me,” she predicted.
Cartwright noted that BGSU is already well on its way to meeting some of the challenges presented by the new University System of Ohio, with the work that has been done on the strategic planning process and the college compacts. “Strong leadership is in place, and that will allow the planning to go forward. There’s also good alignment with what is expected at the state level,” she said.
“We will always be challenged by budget issues—that’s just the nature of today’s higher education,” she said, “and it’s natural that people are worried about the Ohio economy and the national economy. But we also have many good opportunities. I’m excited about meeting with donors and friends, and I’m looking forward to developing new ways to boost enrollment.
“There is no shortage of interesting issues,” she concluded, obviously relishing the challenge.
After Cartwright retired as president of Kent State in 2006, she accepted a one-year contract to ensure a smooth leadership transition. Prior to her service at Kent State, she was vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of California, Davis, and dean for undergraduate programs and vice provost at Pennsylvania State University.
She has held prominent leadership roles in higher education’s most influential national organizations, chairing the board of directors of the American Association for Higher Education and serving on the boards of directors of the American Council on Education and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.
In addition to the American Association of Colleges and Universities board, she serves on the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and the National Public Radio Board of Directors.
Cartwright earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.