Isiaah Crawford, Provost of Seattle University, Named President-elect

February 26, 2016

Distinguished higher education leader to take office July 1, 2016


TACOMA, Wash.
– The University of Puget Sound Board of Trustees announced today the appointment of Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D., provost of Seattle University, as president-elect of Puget Sound.

Crawford will become the university’s 14th president on July 1, 2016, succeeding current President Ronald R. Thomas, who is completing his 13th year of service and the successful implementation of a strategic plan that has secured Puget Sound’s reputation as one of the country’s leading national liberal arts colleges.

Following an extensive national search that included a diverse pool of highly qualified candidates, Crawford rose through a competitive process to be the clear choice for Puget Sound. He was recommended to the board of trustees by a presidential search committee comprising trustee, faculty, staff, alumni, parent, and student representatives, and was introduced to the campus earlier today by Search Committee Chair Robert Pohlad, chair-elect of the Puget Sound Board of Trustees and parent of a Puget Sound alumnus.

“Puget Sound’s remarkable success under President Thomas’s leadership put us in a very strong position to attract top candidates,” Pohlad said of the nine-month search that drew interest from accomplished higher education leaders throughout the country, including sitting presidents at high-profile institutions. “This is a special moment in time for Puget Sound to take its next step—a very important step—inspired by a new leader who will build on our mission as a liberal arts college and meet the many challenges facing higher education today. We have found that leader in Isiaah Crawford. His appointment is a natural extension of our mission and values, and is as exciting a next step as we could ever hope for.”

Crawford impressed the search committee with his candor, collaborative nature, commitment to community, and passionate belief in the ideals of a liberal arts education.

“I am humbled and excited by the opportunity to serve Puget Sound,” Crawford said. “It is a vibrant institution with a deep sense of community and place—it’s clear that Puget Sound looks not only to educate its students but to shape their abilities to look outside of themselves to find ways to use their education to make a difference in the world. The college is extraordinarily well-positioned to build on its accomplishments, seek continuous improvement, and attain its next level of distinction in fulfillment of its mission as a national liberal arts college.” 

A natural leader Crawford was the first in his family to complete a college education and brings to Puget Sound three decades of experience in higher education. A clinical psychologist he earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University, and master’s and doctoral degrees from DePaul University in Chicago. He began his teaching career at Loyola University Chicago in 1987, where he became a tenured professor, chair of the Department of Psychology, and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before assuming the role of provost for Seattle University in 2008. At Seattle University he directs the Division of Academic Affairs and oversees the university’s schools and colleges, libraries, enrollment, information technology, institutional research, and offices supporting academic achievement, faculty affairs, and global engagement.

Crawford maintained a private clinical practice in Chicago from 1987 through 2002, and has been published in numerous scholarly journals over the past 30 years on topics including human sexuality, health promotion, and minority stress. He has served on a number of review panels and editorial boards for professional publications, including the International Journal of Sexual Health, Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention & Education for Adolescents & Children, and the National Institutes of Health Panel Review for AIDS and Related Research. He currently serves on the board of directors for Providence Health and Services (Seattle) and The ROPA Corporation (St. Louis), and is a member of the Northwest Committee of the Metropolitan Opera National Council and Seattle Art Museum Education & Community Engagement Committee. Crawford is director emeritus and former president of the board of directors of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and he served as chair of the Clinical Psychologists Licensing and Disciplinary Board of the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. 

“My own experiences in the liberal arts as an undergraduate student guided me to a life that I could not have otherwise imagined,” Crawford said. “I look forward to working closely with the campus community; to listening, learning, and understanding the culture of the college; and to developing a genuine connection with its many constituents.” 

“As a college that derives so much of its identity from the culture, values, and opportunities of the Pacific Northwest, we are especially pleased to have found Puget Sound’s next president so close to home,” said Board of Trustees Chair Rick Brooks ’82. “Dr. Crawford’s experiences as a scholar, teacher, and administrator, combined with his strong connections to the region, make him uniquely suited to provide strong leadership for Puget Sound.”

Crawford plans to make the short move from Seattle to Tacoma later this summer with his partner, Kent Korneisel, O.D. A formal installation and other events to welcome Puget Sound’s 14th president to the South Sound are expected to be announced after Crawford assumes office in July.

Press photos of Isiaah Crawford can be downloaded from pugetsound.edu/pressphotos.
Photos on page: Isiaah Crawford, by Gabriel Newman ’18

Biography of Isiaah Crawford is available at pugetsound.edu/presidentialsearch

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