At Kent State University, the phrase â€œfour more yearsâ€ has nothing to do with politics. It refers to the time frame for a physical transformation of the universityâ€™s Kent Campus that will be historic in size, scope and significance. That time frame became official today (Sept. 12) when the universityâ€™s Board of Trustees authorized the university to move forward with four, major capital projects on the Kent Campus totaling nearly $150 million.
Kent Stateâ€™s investment in university-wide improvements, which is possible in part because of the universityâ€™s issuance of $170 million in general receipts bonds, is motivated by far more than aesthetics. The projects approved today are part of a larger building and renovation initiative called â€œFoundations of Excellence: Building the Future.â€
â€œWithout exception, every improvement we make will contribute to the creation of a 21st-century learning environment that supports Kent Stateâ€™s top priorities: academic excellence and ensuring the success of all students in all majors on all of our campuses,â€ said Kent State President Lester A. Lefton.
The projects approved today are:
Science Facilities Fit for the 21st-Century. The most heavily used science buildings on the Kent Campus (Cunningham, Smith and Williams halls) will undergo major renovations. A versatile, new multidisciplinary research addition in the science mall area will address research needs in all science disciplines. The target cost for the renovations and addition from bond funds is $56 million, plus an additional $16 million in state capital funding.
Todayâ€™s Architects to Design New Building for Tomorrowâ€™s Architects. Kent Stateâ€™s nationally respected College of Architecture and Environmental Design, which offers Northeast Ohioâ€™s only architecture degree program, has its studios, classrooms and offices scattered across campus. That will no longer be the case when the college gets a new, high-profile home on the Esplanade near the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center that will open next June.
A design competition, to be overseen by a jury of university leaders and leading architects, will be held to select the firm that will design a distinctive landmark and learning facility. The competition will be a rare opportunity to tackle a â€œby architects for architectsâ€ project. The target cost for the building is $37 million, to come from the universityâ€™s issuance of $170 million in general receipts bonds.
Framing the Future of Art Programs. The university will create an Art complex centered on the existing Art Annex and Art Building. When completed, the nationally respected art programâ€™s classrooms, studios and offices will no longer be scattered across six buildings on the Kent Campus. The project will involve the complete rehabilitation, reconstruction or replacement of the existing building envelopes to improve energy efficiency and give the complex a new look. The target cost for the project is $22 million, to come from the universityâ€™s issuance of $170 million in general receipts bonds.
A New High-Tech Home for High-Tech Programs. A new building will be constructed on the Kent Campus science mall to house the universityâ€™s College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology. The building, which will replace the collegeâ€™s home in aging Van Deusen Hall, will include shelled space to permit quick expansion. The new building will be designed with a focus on sustainability, with the goal of achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold or platinum status from the U.S. Green Building Council.
â€œThis is an extraordinary opportunity to reshape our campus and community for generations,â€ said Board Chair Jacqueline Woods. â€œThese new buildings, combined with several additions, expansions and other improvements, represent a solid financial investment that is both necessary to move us forward as a world-class university and important to meet the demands of our students, staff and faculty. I applaud the Board for taking steps to support this project and we are excited to see each phase thatâ€™s still to come.â€
The capital projects approved today top a list of high-priority projects that was compiled with input from key Kent State stakeholders, including deans, faculty, staff members and students, as well from a board-administration Joint Projects Oversight Committee. In addition to the new buildings approved today, the university will undertake major, university-wide renovations of classrooms and laboratories; increase energy efficiency; increase accessibility; add a new, 41,140 square-foot Science and Nursing Building at Kent State University at Stark; and will extend the Esplanade walkway on the Kent Campus into downtown Kent.
With campus improvements mirroring the renaissance of downtown Kent, the sights and sounds of construction have become as common to the Kent State community as the universityâ€™s ubiquitous black squirrels. Students are gaining a competitive edge in the cutting-edge Science and Health Building at Kent State University at Ashtabula; the University Library has been modernized to meet 21st-century research and study needs; Northeast Ohio is seeing a range of Broadway-caliber entertainment at the Performing Arts Center at Kent State at Tuscarawas and the Roe Green Center; a scenic Student Green on the Kent Campus is a few weeks from completion; and todayâ€™s Board meeting followed a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Kent State University Regional Academic Center in Twinsburg, which has greatly expanded access to higher education, training and retraining for residents of four Northeast Ohio counties.
â€œTo ensure the success of our students now and for decades to come, we have made the bold decision to make Kent State everything a 21st-century university should be,â€ Lefton said. â€œWhen our plans are fully realized, Kent State will have played a key role in a public-private investment in the regionâ€™s future totaling nearly $700 million; helped create nearly 1,800 jobs; helped make the city of Kent one of the nationâ€™s most vibrant and visited college towns; and helped improve the quality of life in Northeast Ohio.â€
In other actions:
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