Lori Stewart Gonzalez was selected to serve as Ohio University’s 23rd president by the university’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday.
Gonzalez will serve as OU’s first female president in its 219-year history and will begin her work as president July 1 following the departure of current OU President Hugh Sherman. Sherman was appointed to a two-year term in 2021 with a plan to retire at the end of his term on June 30.
“I'm really proud of that first, but I want us to really focus on the ‘firsts’ for all our students,” Gonzalez said. “I've had a lot of women who have supported me over the years, and I try to pay it forward with a lot of young women and mentor them.”
To secure the university’s top job, Gonzalez beat out Avinandan Mukherjee, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Marshall University. A third candidate, Susana Rivera-Mills, who currently serves as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Ball State University, rescinded her application for president in early March.
In her role, Gonzalez will be paid a base salary of $600,000 per year, according to a copy of her employment agreement with the university. Sherman currently makes just over $450,000 as president, according to The Post's 2021 Salary Guide.
Each year, the Board will review her compensation to decide if it should be increased. However, it can never be decreased, according to the agreement.
Gonzalez currently serves as the executive vice president and provost at the University of Louisville, a position she has held since April 2021. In that position, Gonzalez is responsible for managing the day-to-day and long-term academic goals of the university, according to a previous Post report. Gonzalez has also worked at Appalachian State University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis.
Hailing from a small town in Appalachian Kentucky, Gonzalez received a doctor of philosophy in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Florida, according to a university news release.
In the release, Sherman said Gonzalez’s experience in health sciences will be beneficial to her term as president because a third of OU students are enrolled in health sciences professional programs and OU is home to the largest public medical school in Ohio.
At Gonzalez’s presidential forum, which was held on March 8 in the Baker University Center Theater, she said she worked to raise stipend levels for University of Louisville graduate students to cover health insurance and hired mental health professionals who better understand those students.
Gonzalez said she is looking forward to collaborating with Sherman to learn more about the university and his passion for OU before she officially begins her term as president.
“I’m just really excited, (I have) butterflies in my stomach,” Gonzalez said. “If I wouldn’t have had such a wonderful experience during the interview process, … I might have been more apprehensive, but I’m just excited to get started.”
Arshi Singhania and Ryan Maxin contributed to this report.