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East Stroudsburg University has a new leader

ESU President Kenneth Long
East Stroudsburg University
ESU President Kenneth Long

As the 14th president of East Stroudsburg University, Kenneth Long wants the institution to be the go-to school for students in the region.

“When a student is graduating from high school or an adult is thinking about getting a college education, they're writing ESU on paper," he said.

Long was appointed to the position by the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the university announced Wednesday. He began immediately. Long previously served as interim president after Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D., retired in July 2020. He is the first African American president of the university.

“President Long brings a vision and understanding of diversity and inclusive excellence to our campus, and his proven dedication to access and equity is very important in higher education," said L. Patrick Ross, chair of the Council of Trustees. "In the past two years ... he clearly has demonstrated his commitment to all of our students and alumni that make up the Warrior Family."

As president, Long wants to rebuild, reestablish and create new relationships with the communities surrounding the university.

“We've been here for 129 years, there's not many institutions in this area that have been here as long as us," he said. "So we are a true part of the fabric of East Stroudsburg, Stroudsburg, Monroe County and the Pocono Mountains.”

Long and his team will assess ESU programs to either update or switch offerings to different platforms to meet the needs of students and the community. He also plans to increase the amount of adult learners and nontraditional students at ESU, including those with practical skills or who served in the military. He wants to make those skills transferable to the university.

Long plans to meet with every public school superintendent within 50 to 60 miles of the university to understand not only the needs of high school students but also district employees. He want education to affordable at East Stroudsburg.

Long holds an MBA. His 35-year career in higher education brought him to ESU in 2013. He first served as CFO and vice president administration and finance. He never sought to be president of a university.

"On a weekday afternoon at three o'clock you can be in a stadium watching the a field hockey game and that's part of your job … or visiting students in a classroom at one of our local school districts, as they're doing their student teaching … or watching our student nurses ... give vaccines during the middle of the pandemic," he said. "There's not a lot of jobs you get to do that."

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.