Kent State Provost Bob Frank will become president of his alma mater, the University of New Mexico.
The university's Board of Regents announced Wednesday that it tapped Frank, 59, from a field of five finalists as head of the university of 30,000 students.
''Frank emerged from a field of candidates as the best person to lead UNM to new heights of academic excellence,'' Regents President Jack Fortner said in a prepared statement.
Frank, in Albuquerque with his wife for the announcement, said it was a ''very thrilling moment for me personally. Janet and I are happy to be back in the arms of the Lobos.''
He told Kent State last year he was pursuing a job as a university president and would leave his job here at the end of the 2011-12 academic year.
''At age 59, you reassess your priorities and I've long dreamed of being a college president,'' he told the KSU campus community in an email.
Frank was instrumental in KSU starting a College of Public Health, the first in Northern Ohio. He helped to double the number of international students, created a unified school of graduate studies and a School of Digital Sciences.
KSU President Lester Lefton praised his accomplishments. UNM is ''fortunate to have Dr. Frank and we wish him well,'' he said in a prepared statement.
In his new job, Frank will oversee a university that is very different from Kent State.
Graduates of New Mexico high schools with grade-point averages of at least 2.5 are guaranteed free tuition at the state's tax-supported colleges and universities that include UNM. In-state students with lesser GPAs pay $2,940 per semester at UNM compared to almost $5,000 a semester at Kent State.
UNM has about 30,000 students at the main campus and outlying centers compared to about 40,000 at Kent State's eight-campus network.
New Mexico also has a broader range of offerings than Kent State. That includes the only academic medical center in the state and colleges or schools of law, pharmacy and engineering.
Total employment, including staff at the medical system, is about 20,000.
At the same time, UNM regents have indicated that Frank will make less than his predecessor, David Schmidly, who receives $587,000, including $42,000 for a personal car and $45,000 toward his home.
UNM spokeswoman Karen Wentworth said Schmidly did not receive bonuses or other incentives and that Frank's final contract is in progress.
Frank has said he will earn around $355,000 as president and that he has asked to be paid less than Schmidly, according to the Associated Press.
If that is the case, he would earn just slightly more than the $288,000 he makes at Kent State and considerably less than that of Lefton, the KSU president, who gets a base of $412,000 plus incentives and bonuses that push his salary beyond the $500,000 mark.
Frank received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from UNM and graduated from a Las Cruces high school. He was dean of the college of public health and health professions at the University of Florida before joining KSU in July 2007 as provost.
His hunt for a president's post coincided with Schmidly's announcement last year that he would retire this June.
Schmidly's rocky, five-year tenure included a no-confidence vote by faculty in 2009, health problems, public furor over hiring his son into a $92,000 job and state budget cuts.
Kent State has hired Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates of Media, Pa., to search for its new provost.
The company will be paid one-third of the cash compensation for the selected candidate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.