U. of Puget Sound’s First African-American President Built His Career at Jesuit Institutions

April 03, 2016

Seattle U.
Isiaah Crawford

"A lot of proud St. Louisans" are congratulating Isiaah Crawford on his appointment as the next president of the University of Puget Sound, come July, he says.

They are the family members and friends in the city where he was raised who have cheered him on through his becoming the first member of his family to finish college, his rise as an academic and clinical psychologist and then academic administrator, and now his appointment as the first African-American president of the small liberal-arts institution, in Tacoma, Wash. Mr. Crawford calls himself "a living example of the transformative power of education, particularly a liberal-arts education."

After he earned his doctorate at DePaul University, he began teaching at Loyola University Chicago. While running a clinical practice between 1987 and 2002, he became a professor and then chair of the psychology department, and then dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the Jesuit-run institution. Loyola Chicago, he says, "was very supportive of the kind of research I was doing," on human sexuality and health.

"It was during a very difficult time, particularly with the scourge of HIV/AIDS. I was very much looking at trying to develop strategies to help young people, and gay young men, to protect their health and their lives, and Loyola University saw that that was consistent with their outlook toward health and health promotion."

He became provost at Seattle University, another Jesuit institution, eight years ago, and found similar support there for his research on human sexuality as well as minority stress, including environmental justice, which is an emphasis at Puget Sound, a small university of about 2,550 undergraduate students.

As memorable as any moment during his career, Mr. Crawford says, was what happened when he was introduced at a campus event as its next leader. Echoing the warmth shown by Seattle University, and Loyola Chicago, too, Puget Sound students applauded the introduction of his partner, Kent Korneisel, an optometrist.

"It was a great, great moment for both me and my partner, Kent. It’ll be something that we will forever remember," says Mr. Crawford.— Peter Monaghan

MamaRazzi Foto
Alfredo Barcenas receives an award from the Association for Student Conduct Administration.
First-Generation Leader

Alfredo Barcenas, a first-generation college student majoring in political science, doesn’t often stand alone. As an officer in the California State Student Association, he makes an effort to represent more than 470,000 students in the California State University system, including 20,000 on his own campus at San Bernardino.

In recognition of his work for students and his leadership skills, Mr. Barcenas was honored with the 2016 Undergraduate Student of the Year Award from the Association for Student Conduct Administration.

Mr. Barcenas, a senior, says he grew up helping his single mother care for his siblings and saw the hard work she put in to support them. He says he "wanted to follow that leadership" and become a leader himself.

Sandra Y. Vasquez, associate dean of students at San Bernardino and director of student conduct and ethical development there, nominated Mr. Barcenas for the award because she noticed the "powerful connections he made across campus," she says. It’s impossible to overstate "how inspiring he is to his peers or the respect he has gained from administrators."

Mr. Barcenas is vice president for university affairs in the California State Student Association.

Whether serving in that systemwide student-government role, or as judicial chairman for his chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity, or as last year’s president of Associated Students Inc., at San Bernardino, Mr. Barcenas says he makes it a priority to listen to students’ needs.

After hearing concerns about safety, he worked to build student support for the university’s campaign against sexual violence. He was also involved in a project to educate freshmen on the dangers of alcohol and drug use. He holds a campus job, too, as student coordinator of the Office of Housing & Residential Life.

It is a challenge to balance all those roles, Mr. Barcenas says. He doesn’t always feel like a student. There is loneliness that comes with the "pressure to represent the whole campus," he says, because no one can fully understand that pressure. "But it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences."

Mr. Barcenas wants to attend law school and continue leadership in politics after graduation; he was one of 22 interns with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute last fall in Washington. He plans to be "a big advocate for education," especially for those like him who do not come from wealthy families. "I’m not going to graduate and then forget."
— Kate Stoltzfus

Kathy Atkinson
Nancy M. Targett

Acting Chief to Provost

When she arrives at the University of New Hampshire in September to be its new provost and vice president for academic affairs, Nancy M. Targett will have some especially useful experience on her C.V.: acting president at another institution.

Ms. Targett became the University of Delaware’s acting president in July, after a decade as dean of the institution’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. The previous president, Patrick T. Harker, left in June to lead the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

At the time, Ms. Targett had been considering what she wanted to try next. "It was an opportunity to execute some things on a big platform," she says. "It’s been a really positive experience."

She will continue her role as acting leader until Dennis Assanis, provost of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, assumes the presidency at Delaware in July.

When Ms. Targett moves north, she will carry some insight into leading a university. "The biggest thing is to not underestimate the value of relationships with people you work with," she says. She also tries to see decisions from the perspectives of students and faculty as well as the administration.

Ms. Targett began at Delaware 32 years ago as an assistant professor of marine sciences. Moving to another university after all these years may be bittersweet, she says, but it will be an opportunity to build new relationships and revisit old ones: She has several former colleagues at New Hampshire, and its president, Mark W. Huddleston, previously taught at Delaware. Both institutions have Sea Grant College programs, which receive federal support to do research and outreach on marine and coastal issues; Ms. Targett is director of the one at Delaware.

She has made several trips to New Hampshire, and she says she is trying to be a "sponge" and soak up the university’s dynamics. "One of the things I looked for in moving to another institution was that the president would work with the provost, that there was a sense of a team moving the institution forward." She has that at Delaware, she says, and found it again at New Hampshire.

"I’ve had opportunities at Delaware that most people have to leave an institution to have," she says, referring to her most recent roles. "I love my job. I love connecting people. You can bring people together to achieve more than you can achieve individually."

As a young oceanography professor and a first-generation college graduate, she never expected to make it as far as she has, she says. "I always tell my students you can’t have too many opportunities. I thought maybe I should listen to my own words." — Jenny Rogers

Another Land-Grant Post

Kirk H. Schulz, who has led Kansas State University since 2009, will be the next president of Washington State University.

Like Kansas State, Washington State is a land-grant doctoral research institution. It was seeking a top executive to succeed Elson S. Floyd, who died last June. Daniel J. Bernardo, who has been serving as interim president, will return to his post as provost after Mr. Schulz takes over the leadership in June.

Mr. Schulz has a doctorate in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech. He is chair of the NCAA Board of Governors. — Ruth Hammond

Obituary: Jazz Innovator

David N. Baker Jr., a pioneering jazz educator who was on the faculty of Indiana University at Bloomington for a half-century, died on March 26. He was 84.

A professor of music, he was also emeritus chair of the jazz-studies department, which he founded in 1968 and led until 2013. Mr. Baker was a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, band leader, and one of the first working musicians to create curricula for jazz and jazz-history courses. His books on how to learn and teach jazz are used around the world.

In the 1950s, he played in the thriving Indianapolis jazz scene, then toured the world with leading jazz performers. But he opted to make teaching his life’s work. He joined Bloomington’s faculty in 1966.

In 2000 he was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. — Peter Monaghan

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