Erica Eckert Selected to Speak at Kent State’s Jerry M. Lewis May 4 Lecture Series

The lecture series created in 2022 to honor the legacy of Kent State University Professor Emeritus of Sociology Jerry M. Lewis, Ph.D., will feature Kent State Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration Erica Eckert, Ph.D., presenting “Where Were the Administrators? A Student Affairs Perspective on May 4, 1970,” as this year’s selected speaker. The Jerry M. Lewis May 4 Lecture and Luncheon will be held on Wednesday, May 3, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. Registration is required for this free event. See the website for tickets and more details.

Headshot of Erica Eckert, Ph.D., assistant professor of higher education administration

In addition to teaching courses on information technology, assessment and business administration in higher education, Eckert is the coordinator for Kent State’s Institutional Research and Assessment certificate. Her research focuses on how institutions and units within navigate systems and structures, with her most recent interest centering on how administrators at Kent State navigated the events leading up to and after May 4, 1970. Eckert is co-author of “Business Practices in Higher Education: A Guide for Today’s Administrators” and is a member of several higher education organizations. She serves on the leadership team of the NASPA Assessment, Evaluation and Research knowledge community.

“It is an incredible honor to be selected to give the Jerry M. Lewis Lecture as part of this year’s May 4 Commemoration,” Eckert said. “It was a privilege to conduct the interviews and archival research for this project, which centers on the experiences of student affairs administrators before, during and after the events of May 4, 1970. I am deeply grateful to the administrators and faculty members who generously entrusted me with their recollections and observations.”

Lewis, the series’ namesake, taught at Kent State from 1966 until 2013, becoming a Professor Emeritus in 1996. Serving as a faculty marshal in 1970, he witnessed the May 4, 1970, shootings firsthand and has since devoted time to researching, memorializing and lecturing on the events of May 4. In 1971, with the help of students, Lewis established the first Candlelight Walk and Vigil, an annual event that begins at 11 p.m. on May 3 and continues until 12:24 p.m. on May 4, the time of the shootings. Lewis was one of the four co-authors of the application to add the May 4 site to the National Register of Historic Places, which was approved in February 2010.

The Jerry M. Lewis May 4 Lecture Series is made possible through a generous donation from Kent State alumnus and former Kent State Board of Trustees member Michael Solomon, a 1974 graduate.

The 53rd Commemoration is set for May 3 and May 4 with a schedule of events that includes the annual lecture series luncheon, a special screening of the film “Young Plato” and a panel discussion with filmmakers, the Candlelight Walk and Vigil, and the noon gathering on the Commons.

For the latest information about the commemoration and a complete list of events to honor and remember May 4, 1970, visit

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Photo Caption – Top of Page:
Professor Emeritus Jerry M. Lewis speaks at the inaugural luncheon established to honor his legacy as a May 4, 1970, historian and advocate.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 18, 2023 12:40 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 19, 2023 04:08 PM
Cynthia Williams