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5 things to know about new CSU Provost Deirdre Mageean

Dr. Deirdre Mageean, Cleveland State University’s new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, comes to us from the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, D.C., where she was dean in residence. From 2005 to 2012, Dr. Mageean served as vice chancellor for research and graduate studies and East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. She previously was vice president for research and dean of the graduate school at the University of Maine. Dr. Mageean has more than 30 years of teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has conducted extensive research in applied demography and socioeconomic change and their implications for public policy.

1. Dr. Mageean is a native of County Down, Ireland, where they know a thing or two about Vikings.

“County Down, on the east coast of Ireland, is proud of its Viking heritage,” Dr. Mageean said. “Over the millennia, many different people landed on our shores, including the Vikings. Over time, people have become more proud of the diverse influences of all these different groups. The Vikings made considerable contributions to Irish culture. In County Down, they even have an annual Viking festival, where I acquired a miniature replica of a Viking longship.”

2. A firm belief in the power of engagement brought Dr. Mageean to the home of Engaged Learning.

“President Berkman’s vision of the University as a transformative agent within the community resonates with me,” Dr. Mageean said. “As an urban university, CSU can be focused with its partnerships and rise to the challenges of the city and of Northeast Ohio. There are plenty of challenges out there, be they in health care or environmental issues or economic development. A cynic once remarked that societies have problems and universities have departments, inferring that they were not aligned. We need to align our strengths with where the opportunities lie. With CSU’s size and the fact that we’re a relatively young university, as well as the collaborative culture on our campus, we can be very nimble and very responsive in ways that other institutions cannot.”

3. Dr. Mageean wants civil dialogue to flourish at CSU.

“This partly comes out of my background in Belfast, where there was terrible and violent civil conflict,” Dr. Mageean said. “We’re living in a world where some elements in the media really build up tensions and deliberately create oppositional positions. Somebody once described a debate as an exchange of knowledge and an argument as an exchange of ignorance. I want to help students understand that you can agree to disagree and that you can have discussions in an environment where you’re speaking from a position of knowledge and wanting to exchange ideas. CSU should be a safe place where you can discuss controversial issues, but in a civil and informed way. This is part of the transformational work that universities do, developing the whole person.”

4. Dr. Mageean used to party with Jimi Hendrix. Well, once. Sort of.

“When I was in high school, Jimi Hendrix performed as part of a big arts festival at Queen’s University in Belfast,” Dr. Mageean said. “The father of one of my best friends was in charge of the event. It was Jimi’s birthday, so they made a cake for him. We got to stand onstage, in the wings, with the cake. We were only able to take it so far, though – more fortunate and important people presented it to Jimi. But we got to stand there and see him get his cake. It was a lot of fun being that close. We also got to watch Jimi play the guitar with his teeth, like they said he did, without electrocuting himself.”

5. Dr. Mageean is keen on Cleveland.

“I have a 35-foot sailboat, so I’m looking forward to getting out on Lake Erie. I think the vibrant arts scene here is something I’m going to relish, too. I’ve been blown away by all the plays and performances in town, and, of course, the Cleveland Orchestra. I’m a big fan of classical music, so I’ll be hanging out a lot at Severance Hall. I’m also looking forward to getting to know all the different neighborhoods. You have great ethnic diversity here – and great food! I love cooking, and Cleveland is much more of a foodie town than I imagined. So far, moving here has brought a whole series of pleasant surprises.”