Scott Scarborough, 51
University of Akron's 16th president
Like the first-round pick who has to replace the Hall of Fame quarterback, Scarborough has some big cleats to fill. But the former provost at the University of Toledo should be well-equipped. "I grew up playing team sports, so I have a team-based style of leadership," he says. Oh, and a doctorate in strategic management.
Favorite subject: "English composition is the best course I ever took."Favorite school lunch: Pizza On the playground, you'd find me ... : "On the slide. That was the biggest thrill."My college friends would say I was ... : "Very active on campus. I was the student body president and a member of the Texas Cowboys, an honorary service organization. We did a lot of work with retirement communities and the Special Olympics."Best piece of educational advice: "As my father, Harold, was dropping me off at college, he told me to study extra hard for the first test. So I always tried to overstudy for that first test."Biggest challenge facing students today: "Trying to make the economics of higher education work. Many students work multiple jobs, have to pay student loans and study at the same time."My first days on the job were ... : "A whirlwind. The people in this part of the country are so welcoming. It was like going from one party to another."Why attend Akron: "We've been ranked as the best value in public education in Northeast Ohio. The return on investment is very high at the University of Akron. We're known for our law, engineering and science programs."
Jim Tressel, 61
Youngstown State University's ninth president
Tressel established himself as Coach Tressel at YSU, guiding the Penguins to four Division I-AA titles in 15 years before heading to the Ohio State University. Now he returns hoping to make a mark as president. "Everyone happens to believe in each other here," he says.
Favorite Subject: "Mathematics. I enjoyed finding out if I was right or not. I guess that's why I like sports. There's always a finite decision."Favorite school lunch: "I remember pizza day each week — and strawberry sundaes."On the playground, you'd find me ... : "Playing basketball or tetherball."My college friends would say I was ... : "Involved in many areas. I was a student athlete, sports editor of the newspaper, in a fraternity, involved in school government and taught elementary school physical education."Best piece of educational advice: "As a junior in college, I was whining to Mrs. French, one of my professors, about finding a job. She told me, `If you're good at what you do, there's a job for you.' "Biggest challenge facing students today: "The expense. The cost of a higher education is significant."My first days on the job were ... : "I spent about five weeks walking around here like I was the president before I was the president. On my first day, I invited all the school employees to our house in the morning. Then I had a couple hundred students over and then met with board members. By the end of the day we had between 800 and 900 people at the house."Why attend YSU: "Youngstown State has great value. We have an outstanding faculty that cares deeply about the teaching component of their jobs. When you're looking at a school you've got to drown out the bells and whistles and look at the faculty."
Lori Varlotta, 50
Hiram College's 22nd president
Varlotta, Hiram's first female president, spent the past 11 years at California State University, Sacramento. A Pittsburgh native and first-generation college graduate, she enjoys being back in the Midwest. "I really like the quality of life here," she says. "I feel like this is a perfect place for me."
Favorite subject: "I was really drawn to math and science courses, but my heart began to beat faster in my first philosophy class. It was really liberating for me to find the most interesting questions in life didn't have one single answer."Favorite school lunch: "We had brown paper bags, and we used them over and over. We were green when green was just a color."On the playground, you'd find me ... : "Running around collecting bugs that crawled. I would make them into pets. I was convinced I could train them."My college friends would say I was ... : "A very serious student and a serious socializer. I developed a close network of friends, and we're still close today. We all suffered through dish duty together."Best piece of educational advice: "One of my philosophy teachers said, 'Take risks.' I realized that it's hard to fail if you're trying to learn."Biggest challenge facing students today: "Financial challenges are the biggest. Don't be turned away by the initial sticker price. There are different kinds of grants and student aid that are not available at first glance. Do your homework."My first days on the job were ... : "Very positive. I visited alums and friends of the college over breakfast and lunch. And I've spent an extraordinary amount of time with my cabinet."Why attend Hiram: "Hiram is transformative. It's the kind of college that is becoming increasingly relevant and increasingly rare with applied learning and hands-on learning."
Beverly Warren, 65
Kent State University's 12th president
Warren spent six months meeting alumni and visiting the regional campuses to get acclimated. A former Virginia Commonwealth University provost and senior president, she already feels at home. "This is a large public university with a small college feel," she says.
Favorite subject: "English has always been a favorite subject of mine. I love the power of words. I can curl up with a great novel and just get taken away to another world."Favorite school lunch: "I was a brown-bagger. My mom took great care of what went into that brown bag. Peanut butter and jelly was my favorite sandwich."On the playground, you'd find me ... : "Anywhere there was any kind of a ballgame. Softball and flag football were my favorites."My college friends would say I was ... : "Fun. I had a broad circle of friends, and we just had a good time."Best piece of educational advice: "A college professor told me, `Take your work seriously but not yourself.'"Biggest challenge facing students today: "We have to start with affording a college education, making good decisions and seeking help so you can graduate with a major you love. On average, a college student changes majors three times. I tell students to find something that really turns you on."My first days on the job were ... : "A whirlwind of meet and greets in very thoughtful ways. I met with students the first day. My second meeting was with the town, and my third was a visit to one of our regional campuses."Why attend Kent State: "Kent State is a large public university with a myriad of options. We offer more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs."
Thomas Kruczek, 59
Notre Dame College's 14th president
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and former dean at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Flordia, Kruczek has a simple philosophy on leading his new school. "Every student here is our most important student," he says.
Favorite subject: "College psychology, no question about it. I was always engaged by the sciences and I loved biology."Favorite school lunch: "I went to a small Catholic school, and I always went home for lunch every day."On the playground, you'd find me ... : "On the baseball field. I am a White Sox fan, because it was a lot easier to get into Comiskey Park than Wrigley Field."My college friends would say I was ... : "Really involved with sports at Notre Dame. If there was a sporting event, I was probably there. I worked for the sports information department, wrote for the school paper and wrote for the South Bend Tribune on the weekends."Best piece of educational advice: "When I was in graduate school a professor talked to me after class. He told me I was really good at giving presentations. He said whatever I did it should involve presentations and speeches."Biggest challenge facing students today: "Thinking through their strengths and limitations. You've got to find your passion before you can follow your passion."My first days on the job were ... : "Spent walking around campus and introducing myself. I did not want to spend my first day behind a desk."Why attend Notre Dame: "Notre Dame College is a small, caring place where we care about all of our students. We take care of the whole student, not just in the classroom. Our focus on liberal arts helps us tremendously with that."