James P. Lentini named new OU provost

After nearly a year of searching, Oakland University announced Dr. James P. Lentini from Miami University in Ohio as the new senior vice president of academic affairs and provost.

The decision by President Russi and the Provost Search Committee, and it was announced in an email Monday, May 13 by Russi.

Lentini will assume the role of provost July 8 “pending approval by the Oakland University Board of Trustees,” according to the email sent by Russi.

The incoming provost is currently the Dean of Creative Arts for Miami University in Ohio. He has taught at the College of New Jersey and Wayne State University. He has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California.

“Professor Lentini was very favorably viewed by everybody on the committee,” said Search Committee Chair and Political Science Professor David Dulio. “There was never a question that he was going to be one of those advanced to the president by the committee.”

The provost decision ultimately fell into President Russi’s hands, according to Dulio. “Our report to the president said, ‘We are going to forward these candidates. Here are strengths and weaknesses about them,’” Dulio said.

Samantha Wolf, OU Student Congress legislator and member of the Provost Search Committee, said the decision was ultimately in Russi’s hands because the provost is essentially the president’s second in command.

“(The President) needs to be able to work with the person. But he definitely listened to what the committee recommended, and everything we had to say about every candidate,” Wolf said.

“I think he brings a number of things to OU,” Dulio said. “I think his personality will be a big benefit. He has a number of experiences. I think he brings a great experience as a dean.”

As for his qualifications, Dulio said, “One of the bonuses to hiring him is that he is from Miami of Ohio. It’s a great institution. I think they do a number of things Oakland would like to emulate. And I think he an help us advance the institution on a number of fronts.”

Of the four finalists for provost, Lentini was the only one with a background in arts and humanities, against three with backgrounds in sciences. Wolf said that didn’t matter as much as Lentini’s qualifications.

“When you get to provost level, you are not the chief academic for just music,” Wolf said. “You are the chief academic officer for every area. You need to be able to deal with every area in OU. And I think he’s the best fit for OU.”