Ohio University gets new leader
Published 12:00 am Monday, March 27, 2023
Gonzalez named as school’s 23rd president
ATHENS — Dr. Lori Stewart Gonzalez, an experienced higher education leader who has held senior academic roles at multiple public universities and is a native of the Appalachian region, will become Ohio University’s 23rd president on July 1.
Gonzalez will succeed president Hugh Sherman, who agreed to serve a two-year term with plans to retire at the end of this academic year.
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President-elect Gonzalez comes to Ohio University from the University of Louisville, where she currently serves as executive vice president and university provost; additionally, she served as interim president for more than a year during a presidential transition. Prior to her time in Louisville, Gonzalez was the vice chancellor of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. Her long career also includes serving as the provost and executive vice chancellor at Appalachian State University and dean of the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky.
Gonzalez holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Florida and is an accomplished researcher and faculty member in her field. She also has professional experience as a speech-language pathologist.
“Dr. Gonzalez’s background in, and knowledge of, the health sciences will serve her well as President of Ohio University,” said president Sherman. “A third of our students are enrolled in health sciences professional programs, and we are home to the largest public medical school in the state. In addition, she brings with her a clear understanding of the region we serve.”
Gonzalez was born and raised in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky, a small town with a population of just over 2,400 in Appalachian Kentucky. Her father was a first-generation college student and owned a feed store in Mt. Vernon. Gonzalez said her father and mother impressed on her the importance of a college education and taught her and her siblings that “because we had many opportunities that other equally deserving individuals did not, we should always give back to our communities.”
“I see public education as the ultimate opportunity to give back, and I’m so honored to partner with the Ohio University community to give back to a region that I call home,” Gonzalez said. “I know that when communities come together to support public education, our cities and towns are strengthened, our civic engagement is elevated and the students we serve discover new opportunities that change their lives and the lives of generations to come.”
The selection of Gonzalez concludes an extensive national search that began with a thorough university-wide engagement project early in fall 2022 that both set expectations and guided the overall search process.
“We started this process by partnering with the University community to define what we wanted in our next President, and I am thrilled to be able to say that we found everything we were looking for in Dr. Gonzalez,” said Peggy Viehweger, chair of the Ohio University Board of Trustees and chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “Dr. Gonzalez has broad experience as an academic leader and a deep commitment to the power of public higher education. What set her apart, however, was her open and honest communication style and her demonstrated ability to work collaboratively and to build strong teams – characteristics our stakeholders told us were of utmost importance.”
Viehweger stated the 16-member Presidential Search Committee was instrumental in reviewing a robust candidate pool and identifying top candidates who met the criteria defined by the University community and the Board of Trustees.
“Our search committee was focused and dedicated. They took this responsibility very seriously, and they listened to each other and to the University community,” Viehweger said. “The result of their work is an outstanding Ohio University President who will make history as the first woman president and whom I trust will bring many other exciting firsts to OU.”
The Ohio University Board of Trustees approved president-elect Gonzalez’s appointment at a special meeting of the board on Wednesday.