The introduction was made during a press conference this morning at the Kent State Student Center. Diacon is replacing , who last month was named the next president of the University of New Mexico, his alma mater.
“Dr. Diacon will make a great addition to our institution that is focused on student success,” Lefton said. “He’s a first-rate scholar. He focuses on listening, and he is appreciative of a wide variety of views. He is quick to see a range of opportunities and solutions, promoting collaboration and respect."
Diacon comes to Kent State from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he serves as deputy chancellor. His duties there include supervising the university’s strategic plan, leading special projects, co-directing university relations with state government, coordinating town-gown initiatives and directing the UMass Community College Connection to encourage community college students to enroll at UMass.
In addition to his role of deputy chancellor at UMass, he also is a professor of history. Diacon specializes in agrarian history and the history of central state power in Brazil. He has authored publications on student success and on the administration of higher education, and he has written several journal articles and two books. His book, “Stringing Together a Nation,” won the Warren Dean Prize for the best book on Brazilian history.
Diacon said he is excited to join the Kent State community.
“It is my great honor to be chosen as the provost of Kent State University,” Diacon said. “When I interviewed on campus, one thing became apparent: the students, faculty and staff love their university, appreciate its strengths, and are united in their desire to continue to grow and improve what already is one of the nation’s top universities. I very much look forward to working for President Lefton, for the faculty and staff, and for the students of Kent State University.”
In his new position at Kent State, Diacon will serve as the chief academic officer for the university’s eight-campus system. It is the second-highest ranking position at Kent State behind the university president.
Diacon will be 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.
He will provide 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 will assist in the development and administration of university policies and strategic goals.
Prior to UMass, Diacon worked at the University of Tennessee from 1989 to 2010, joining first as an assistant professor of history. During his career there, he held various positions, including director of the Latin American studies program, head of the history department, NCAA faculty athletics representative, professor of history with tenure, vice provost for academic operations and executive director for academic assessment and program support.
Chancellor Robert C. Holub of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said he worked with Diacon in Tennessee and brought him to Amherst as his deputy chancellor.
"He is an experienced and dedicated administrator who has not forgotten his roots in the faculty. He excels in communication. He listens carefully to all points of view and makes decisions based on what is best for the institution," Holub said. "Your university has acquired someone who is a great colleague and an outstanding human being. As time goes on, Kent State will come to recognize how fortunate it is to have someone like Todd in charge of academic affairs.”
A native of Wellington, KS, Diacon received his bachelor’s degree in history from Southwestern College in Winfield, KS, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Lefton issued a public thanks to the provost search committee led by Dean Dan Mahony of the Kent State College of Education, Health and Human Services "for its work and valuable input, as well as the students, faculty and staff who provided comments and feedback to the committee.”