Kent State University Provost Bob Frank is a finalist for the top job at East Tennessee State University, a tax-supported school with 15,000 students in Johnson City.
Frank notified KSU earlier this year he wanted to be a college president and would leave the university at the end of the 2011-12 school year.
He came to KSU in 2007 as senior vice president of academic affairs and provost, the highest academic post in the eight-campus system.
Frank was instrumental in developing a College of Public Health, only the second such school in Ohio.
Born in Paris, where his father was stationed with the U.S. Army, Frank, 59, attended an American school in Iran from the third grade until eighth grade.
There is a need for diversity on the East Tennessee campus, Frank said, and he urged both inclusion of international students at the university and international study experiences for students, saying his time in Iran influenced his views.
''I think I have a higher tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty because I grew up in that kind of environment, where things weren't always crystal clear,'' he said. ''I value family a lot, because we had to rely on each other. It was just us there.''
If selected, Frank would succeed Paul E. Stanton, who is retiring in January.
The two other finalists are Brian Noland, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, and Sandra Patterson-Randles, chancellor of Indiana University Southeast.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 49 applicants, were on the Johnson City campus last week to meet with various groups, according to the Johnson City Press.
The new president is expected to be chosen by mid-November.