Dr. Lester A. Lefton became Kent State University's 11th president in July 2006. As Kent State president and chief executive officer, Dr. Lefton oversees one of the nation's largest university systems. Kent State's eight campuses provide more than 280 academic programs to more than 42,000 undergraduate and graduate students from throughout Ohio and the nation, and from more than 100 countries. One of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio, the university employs more than 5,000 full- and part-time faculty and staff.
Prior to coming to Kent State, Dr. Lefton was senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Tulane University, dean of George Washington Universityâ€™s College of Arts and Sciences, and dean of the University of South Carolinaâ€™s College of Liberal Arts.
Dr. Lefton is respected internationally for his scholarship in the field of experimental psychology. An authority on visual attention and memory, his research has been supported with numerous federal grants and has been published widely in scholarly journals. He was elected a fellow of the American Psychological Association, an honor that recognizes his impact on the field of psychology.
Dr. Lefton has been active in a number of national higher education organizations. He is known nationally as a passionate advocate for undergraduate education. An award-winning teacher with nearly 40 years of university teaching experience, Dr. Leftonâ€™s introductory psychology textbook, now in its ninth edition, is used in college classrooms nationwide.
In keeping with Kent Stateâ€™s strong support of regional and state economic development, Dr. Lefton is active on the boards and executive committees of NorTech and the Greater Akron Chamber. A graduate of Leadership Cleveland, Dr. Lefton also upholds the universityâ€™s role as a regional cultural resource through service on the board of the Musical Arts Association of the Cleveland Orchestra and the American Jewish Committeeâ€™s Cleveland Regional Office.
At the national level, Dr. Lefton serves on the American Council on Educationâ€™s (ACE) Commission on Effective Leadership. The commission advises the ACEâ€™s Center for Effective Leadership, which provides a variety of leadership and professional-development programs for presidents and other higher education administrators. He also serves on the Council on Competitiveness, a forum through which CEOs, university presidents and labor leaders work to ensure U.S. prosperity.
A Boston native, Dr. Lefton earned a bachelorâ€™s degree in psychology from Northeastern University (1969). He holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Rochester (1974), where he held a U.S. Public Health Service Predoctoral Fellowship.
At the start of his presidency, Dr. Lefton instituted an approach to all university operations that is founded on the pursuit of excellence. He initiated an excellence-driven, university-wide strategic plan to lead Kent State into its second century. After nearly seven years, this approach and investment in excellence have yielded accomplishments, contributions and recognition of unprecedented size, scope and real-world relevance. For example, Kent State has:
The president and his wife, Linda J. Lefton, have two daughters and five grandchildren. Mrs. Leftonâ€™s strong support of Kent State takes the form of volunteer work on a variety of university events and activities. She is an attorney who served as a state prosecutor in South Carolina and was an academic advisor for pre-law majors at George Washington and Tulane universities. A graduate of Leadership Portage County, she served on the board of the Pediatric Palliative Care Center at Akron Childrenâ€™s Hospital and on the Womenâ€™s Committee of the Cleveland Orchestra.