Kent State Names New Senior Vice President and Provost Following National Search

Kent State University President Todd Diacon today announced the appointment of Melody Tankersley, Ph.D., to the position of senior vice president and provost, effective Nov. 1, 2020.

Melody Tankersley, Ph.D., has been named Kent State University’s new senior vice president and provost, effective Nov. 1, 2020.

An experienced leader, Tankersley has served Kent State in positions of increasing responsibility since 1993. In 2019, she was named interim senior vice president and provost.

Diacon praised Tankersley as a strong administrator, particularly in her handling of the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and noted her work as a professor and researcher.

“As befits a leader in the Division of Academic Affairs, Dr. Tankersley is an outstanding teacher and scholar, who has earned more than $2 million in research funding, directed to completion more than two dozen dissertations and written more than 100 scholarly publications in her field of special education,” Diacon said.

Her appointment follows a rigorous, national search that has been ongoing since February.

“I am thrilled to have been chosen for this leadership role,” Tankersley said. “It is truly an honor to be able to serve our incredible university that keeps our students at the heart of our work. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with our outstanding faculty and staff to provide an excellent education and learning experience for our students and to address the critical needs of our world through research, innovation and creation.”  

Tankersley is one of the nation’s leading scholars in her field of special education and is an accomplished administrator. She has led the university’s student-ready college initiative, worked to increase student retention and improved recruitment efforts and the admissions process for graduate students. During the onset of the pandemic in March, she oversaw the university’s effort to convert more than 9,000 courses to remote instruction. Within the region, she has been a driving force in expanding institutional collaborations and community outreach, most notably with Akron Public Schools. 

A 17-member search committee comprised of faculty, staff and students, and chaired by Paul DiCorleto, Ph.D., vice president for research and sponsored programs, began the university’s search for a provost in mid-February. The committee’s efforts culminated in virtual interviews of three finalists that took place over the past two weeks.

“Our new provost has the extraordinary opportunity to enhance the university’s strategic direction, academic programs, resources and impact,” Diacon said. “I am confident that Dr. Tankersley is the right person to take on this role. Her strong leadership skills, devotion to students and their success, advocacy for the outstanding work of our faculty and collaborative spirit will help the university continue to recover from the pandemic and to excel in the years ahead.” 

As senior vice president and provost, Tankersley will serve as the university’s chief academic officer and second-highest ranking executive officer. She will oversee a large portfolio and administrative structure, which includes deans of the 11 degree-granting colleges on the Kent Campus; administrative deans of Graduate Studies, Honors College, University College and University Libraries; the vice president for Regional Campuses and deans of the university’s seven Regional Campuses; as well as global education, continuing and distance education, design innovation, assessment and accreditation, community outreach, institutional research, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and ROTC. 

Tankersley has spent her entire professional career at Kent State, beginning in 1993 as an associate professor of special education, earning tenure in 1998 and full professorship in 2004. In addition to her role as interim provost, she has served as senior associate provost, dean of graduate studies and associate provost for academic affairs.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, in 1984, and her master’s in education degree in special education from Winthrop in 1986. She received her doctorate degree in special education from the University of Virginia in 1992 and served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project at the University of Kansas from 1992 to 1993.

Tankersley also has received professional training at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kennedy School of Business.

For more information about Kent State’s Office of the Provost, visit

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Photo Caption:
Melody Tankersley, Ph.D., has been named Kent State University’s new senior vice president and provost, effective Nov. 1, 2020.

Media Contact:
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Tuesday, October 27, 2020 10:39 AM
UPDATED: Friday, December 09, 2022 01:07 PM
Lisa Abraham