By Tate Luckey

In a bit of surprise to the U of L community, executive vice president and provost Dr. Lori Stewart Gonzalez is set to serve as the 23rd President of Ohio University, effective July 1. This comes after being named a finalist a few weeks prior. She is set to be the first female president in Ohio University history. 

Headed to Athens

Gonzalez served as interim president from December 2021 to January 2023, stepping in after former president Neeli Bendapudi left to serve as president of Penn State University. She takes over for President Hugh Sherman, and described to the media on Wednesday her priorities at OU, including financial stability and student success.

“We want to make sure our students come in here, they have a transformational experience and they can get out in four years,” Gonzalez said.

Ohio University Board Chair Peggy Viehwegger emphasized the point that higher education is at an inflection point, making the search for OU’s next president particularly important. Gonzalez was unanimously approved during a special board session.

What comes next

In an email sent Wednesday afternoon, U of L president Kim Schatzel thanked Dr. Gonzalez for her leadership and help during her transition process. Schatzel also described her process of vying for the next provost/executive vice president positions:

“Over the next several weeks I will be conferring and collaborating with many across campus – including shared governance leadership, deans and academic administrators, members of the Provost and President senior leadership teams and councils – as together we shape plans as a campus to consider interim as well as permanent new leadership to assume the role of provost and executive vice president for our university. Timely and complete updates to our entire campus community will be provided as those plans develop.”

Prior to her role at U of L, Dr. Gonzalez served as the Vice Chancellor for Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis from 2015 until the spring of 2021. She served as provost and executive vice chancellor for three years in 2011 at Appalachian State University and as special advisor to the senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina General Administration, the North Carolina public higher education authority during the 2015 academic year.

Photo Courtesy // Joseph Scheller, The Columbus Dispatch //