University of Puget Sound selects licensed clinical psychologist as president

Dr. Isiaah Crawford, president-elect of the University of Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of the University of Puget Sound.

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St. Louis native selected to lead a school with low-black student enrollment

By Frederick H. Lowe

The University of Puget Sound’s board of trustees has selected Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D, as the university’s first African-American president. He is taking over a school with a very low black undergraduate enrollment.

Dr. Crawford, who is Provost at Seattle University, will begin his new job July 1, becoming the University of Puget Sound’s 14th president.

He will succeed current President Ronald R. Thomas, who is completing his 13th year of service at the liberal arts school, which is based in Tacoma, Washington.

“I am humbled and excited by the opportunity to serve Puget Sound,” Crawford said in a statement. “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.”

Selected after a national search

The Board of Trustees selected Crawford after a nine-month national search. He was recommended for the job to the Board of Trustees by a presidential search committee.

The University of Puget Sound enrolled 2,500 undergraduate students and 300 graduate students. African Americans, however, comprise 1 percent of UPS’s undergraduate students.

Edward Horne, Jr.,  a 1970 graduate of the University of Puget Sound and a Tacoma native, said black enrollment has not improved since the year he graduated through 2013.

Horne, a retired commercial airline pilot and the first African American to receive the school’s Lifetime Professional Achievement Award, said it remains to be seen if an African American president will encourage more black students to enroll in UPS.

Black students must be recruited and the administration has to let them know they are wanted, he explained.  University Puget Sound’s high cost  also may discourage black students from enrolling.

The school’s tuition is $44,740 a year.With room and board and other fees, it costs more than $56,000 to attend the school.

On the Black Student Union’s Facebook page, there has been lot of grumbling about the lack of black students and black professors.

Despite this, Tacoma residents will like the change.

“I haven’t received any feedback, but I think the community has to be excited,” Horne said.

University of Puget Sound graduate Edward Horne. Horne is a retired commercial airline pilot.

Provost at Seattle University

Crawford is currently provost of Seattle University, a job he has held since 2008. As provost, he directed the Division of Academic Affairs, which includes Seattle U’s schools, colleges, libraries, enrollment and offices supporting academic achievement, faculty matters and global achievement. He also oversees institutional Research and the Office of Information and Technology. The deans of Seattle U’s eight schools and colleges report to him.

First college graduate in his family

A native of St. Louis, Crawford received bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1982 from St. Louis University. He was the first member of family to graduate from college.

He earned his master’s degree and Ph.D in clinical psychology at DePaul University in Chicago. He later became a tenured professor of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago before becoming the psychology department’s chairperson and later dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Crawford is the former president of the board of directors of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Clinical Psychologists Licensing and Disciplinary Board of the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. He also operated a private clinical practice in Chicago from 1987 through 2002.

He has published nationally recognized papers on health promotion, human sexuality and minority stress.

Crawford and his partner Kent Korneisel, a doctor of optometry, will move to Tacoma from Seattle this summer.

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