Joseph L. Klesner takes the reins of the academic division as provost, moving up from the role of interim provost after less than a year, President Sean Decatur announced today.
Klesner, professor of political science, was named interim provost after the departure of Provost Nayef H. Samhat, who left Kenyon to become president of Wofford College on July 1, 2013. Klesner was named associate provost in 2010 and has distinguished himself in a number of administrative and faculty leadership roles since joining the faculty in 1985.
“Joe Klesner is a great asset for Kenyon, and he has performed admirably as interim provost,” Decatur said. “He is respected throughout the College, has a history of leadership here, and understands the qualities of our faculty. We share an interest in developing and sustaining the finest educational environment for our students and those who teach them.”
Klesner expressed his enthusiasm for working with Decatur through the fruition of Kenyon 2020, a strategic plan that will set priorities and goals for the College. “I am very excited that we will continue to work together,” Klesner said.
Klesner’s own goals include fulfilling the promise of experiential learning; sharpening the first-year experience, including development of interdisciplinary first-year seminars; continuing efforts to more fully integrate majors with international education and global research and learning opportunities; working with the Career Development Office to better coordinate internships and work experiences with the curriculum and to bring more focus to preparing students for life after Kenyon.
Assessing the state of the faculty, Klesner noted that the number of full professors does not portend a burst of retirements. “This is a vigorous faculty, and most departments are quite strong,” he said.
“We have a terrific faculty whose devotion to teaching is unquestioned. They are creative and regularly bring curricular innovations into their classrooms – and they do it without any great fanfare. Our faculty are known for their teaching excellence, and the ways they work to deepen the learning experience of our students is impressive. I am proud to be their colleague.”
Klesner also had high praise for associate provosts Jan Thomas and Brad Hartlaub and the “very capable and hard-working staff in the Office of the Provost and across the academic division.”
Jamie Keller, chair of the faculty and associate professor of chemistry, endorsed the promotion. “We could not have made a better choice,” Keller said. “Joe has proven himself in the last year to be up to the task. He’s the right person for the job. He’s well-liked and respected.” Among the faculty, he said, many prefer “the certainty of someone who knows us well, who keeps the right set of priorities in mind.”
Keller also complimented Decatur’s judgment, work, and initiatives. With the naming of Klesner as provost, he said, “We think the place is in good hands.”
Klesner will keep a hand in teaching and will take on the International Studies senior seminar in the fall. He is the author of the textbook Comparative Politics: An Introduction, published this year by McGraw-Hill.
Klesner was chair of the Department of Political Science in 1996-99, 2002-05 and 2006-10. He is a former chair and secretary of the faculty, former director of the International Studies Program, and former chair of the Curricular Policy and Faculty Lectureships committees. Klesner has been the Fulbright Program advisor since 2001 and was himself a Fulbright lecturer in 2005-06 at the University College Dublin.
An expert in Mexican electoral politics, Klesner has taught courses in comparative politics, international relations, and Latin American politics. He became an assistant professor at Kenyon in 1988, associate professor in 1992, and professor in 1999. Klesner earned a bachelor’s in economics and political science at Central College (1980) and a master’s (1983) and doctorate (1988) in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Klesner is the eleventh individual to become provost or interim or acting provost. Kenyon first used the provost title in 1967.