Symposium Speaker Profiles | Kent State University

Building on Our Success
Kent State Internationalization Symposium 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016, 8:15 am
Kent State Hotel and Conference Center

Kent State Symposium 2016

Keynote Speakers
Dr. Julian Schuster Joseph Cimperman Al-Mabuk Jaffer Hassan Dr. Beverly Warren Lauren McGarity
Dr. Julian Schuster Joseph Cimperman Al-Mabuk Jaffer Hassan Dr. Beverly Warren Lauren McGarity

Dr. Julian Schuster
Provost, Webster University, St. Louis, MO
Provost, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Julian Z. Schuster is Webster University's chief academic and chief operating officer. An internationally educated economist with more than 15 years of experience building and leading higher education institutions, Dr. Schuster has promoted strategic investment in global academic excellence, pioneered international alliances and stewarded resources for new locations, and academic and administrative initiatives. Webster University is the site for Kent State's Geneva Academic Center.

Joseph Cimperman
President, Global Cleveland
Following 18 years in civil service as a Cleveland Councilman, Joseph Cimperman became president of Global Cleveland in March 2016. Throughout his career, Cimperman has displayed enthusiasm for helping new residents, from highly educated immigrants to refugees fleeing danger and persecution, find their place in the city. "Joe has always shown great passion and compassion in standing with both the immigrant and refugee population here in Cleveland," Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said recently in a written statement. A non-profit organization focused on regional economic development, Global Cleveland seeks to attract, welcome and connect newcomers, including highly skilled and highly trained immigrants and refugees, to Cleveland and Cuyahoga County in order to strengthen the economic vitality and social fabric of the region.

Al-Mabuk Jaffer Hassan
Academic Advisor
In addition to teaching biology and geology at the high school level for 28 years in his native Saudi Arabia, Jaffer is also an experienced lecturer on academic affairs and regularly attends educational gatherings throughout the Middle East and Asia. As an academic advisor, he has assisted more than 10,000 Saudi students to pursue study abroad experiences and represents 100-plus universities in the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe and Asia. Following studies in primary and high school education in Saudi Arabia, Jaffer received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry in 1988 from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN.

Dr. Beverly Warren
President, Kent State University
Dr. Beverly Warren became Kent State University's 12th president on July 1, 2014. As the university's chief executive officer, Dr. Warren oversees one of the nation's largest university systems. Kent State's eight campuses provide more than 300 academic programs to more than 41,000 undergraduate and graduate students from throughout Ohio and the nation, and from over 100 countries. One of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio, the university employs more than 5,700 full- and part-time faculty and staff.

Lauren McGarity
Globalization Liaison and Director Special Policy, Ohio Board of Regents
Lauren presently facilitates Ohio's postsecondary education policy and strategic planning. She also serves as a lead for Ohio’s education reform, its policy development, legislative and regulatory processes, and statewide implementation. As Ohio’s first Globalization Liaison, she is the architect of Ohio G.R.E.A.T., Ohio’s Global Reach to Engage Academic Talent initiative – a role in which she regularly collaborates with international governments, state policymakers, Ohio’s public and private institutions of higher education, national experts, other state agencies and business leaders.

Additional Speakers
Dr. Todd Diacon, Ph.D. Dr. Marcello Fantoni Dr. James Blank Dr. Martha Merrill Frank Congin
Dr. Todd A. Diacon Dr. Marcello Fantoni Dr. James Blank Dr. Martha Merrill Frank Congin

Dr. Todd A. Diacon, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Kent State University
In the position of senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Kent State University, Diacon serves as the chief academic officer for the university’s eight-campus system. His is the second-highest ranking position at Kent State behind the university president. Diacon is responsible for all academic affairs functions of the university, leading the faculty and staff within its nine colleges and seven Regional Campuses located throughout Northeast Ohio, and provides leadership in the areas of curriculum; academic personnel and faculty affairs; research and sponsored programs; experiential education and civic engagement; and student success and global education. As a member of the President’s Cabinet, Diacon assists in the development and administration of university policies and strategic goals.

Dr. Marcello Fantoni
Associate Provost, Office of Global Education, Kent State University
Prior to his appointment as Kent State's associate provost for global education, Dr. Marcello Fantoni served as director of Kent State in Florence since 2005 and as the university’s Europe manager since January 2011, overseeing Kent State’s campuses in Florence and Geneva, Switzerland. During this time, Fantoni has established and cultivated new partnerships with numerous universities around the world. A renowned scholar, Fantoni has participated in numerous conferences and symposia, authored three books, edited 13 books and published several essays in books and journals. A native Italian speaker, Fantoni also speaks English, French, Spanish, German and basic Russian.

Dr. James Blank
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences Kent State University 
Before being appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Science, Dr. James Blank served as professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. He has worked at Kent State for 25 years. Under Blank’s leadership, the Department of Biological Sciences grew in undergraduate and graduate students and in faculty, which transformed the department into a leader in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and research. Previously, he served as director of Kent State’s School of Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Martha Merrill
Associate Professor, College of Education, Health and Human Services, Kent State University
Dr. Martha C. Merrill, who worked on higher education reform in the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia from 1996 to 2001, has been involved in college-level international education since 1982. Currently Associate Professor of Higher Education at Kent State University and Coordinator of the program's International Education Certificate, Dr. Merrill previously was the Dean of Academic Programs at the International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership (, on whose Board she had served for seventeen years.

Frank Congin
Director of Academic Relations, Office of Global Education, Kent State University
Frank Congin currently serves as the Director of Academic Relations in the Office of Global Education at Kent State University. Prior to arriving at Kent State, he served as Associate Director of the Office of International Programs and Manager of Study Abroad at Fairfield University in Connecticut. At Fairfield, he had direct oversight of all aspects of the university’s study abroad programs and staff.  Previous to his position at Fairfield University, he served as Director of Study Abroad & International Partnerships at Pratt Institute in New York City. He directed all international programs and oversaw the institute’s vast international partnership profile as well as advised the president on various international issues. Congin also served in study abroad leadership roles at John Carroll University and Lake Erie College.