Kent State Makes Historic, $94.75-Million Investment in Science Education and Research

You are here

Acknowledging that all undergraduate students are required to take science courses as part of their Kent State University education, and that Kent State’s faculty conduct world-class scientific research that advances knowledge and contributes to Ohio’s economic development, the university’s Board of Trustees today (Dec. 3) approved a $94.75-million investment in science facilities that will benefit virtually every member of the university community. The Board approved construction of a $37.55-million Integrated Sciences Building for the College of Arts and Sciences, and in a separate action, the Board approved $57.2 million in renovations to the existing science facilities on the Kent Campus Science Mall.

The new Integrated Sciences Building will address research and teaching needs in chemistry, biology and physics. The building, which will be constructed to meet the criteria for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification, will comprise 57,000 gross square feet with an additional 13,500 square feet of unfinished basement space. The building will wrap around and connect to the existing Williams Hall, facing the Student Green. The project is being funded by $5 million in state capital funding, $30.5 million in bond revenue funds and $2 million from the university contingency reserve for campus facilities.

The Board’s approval of renovations to multiple science buildings will allow the university to modernize select laboratory and classroom spaces in Cunningham, Williams and Smith halls, which were built in the late 1960s. The renovations will address a range of deferred-maintenance needs — from the replacement of the failing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system in Smith Hall to the installation of automatic fire-protection systems to renovations that make restrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Of the $57.2 million that has been allocated to address major deferred maintenance and academic program needs in the three buildings, $7.2 million was previously approved by the Board for critical work that has been completed or is underway; $29.5 million has been received from the state of Ohio as part of two, separate state capital appropriations; and $20.5 million in bond-revenue funds has been allocated to modernize and repair the three existing science buildings. The work will begin at varying times in 2015, with all projects scheduled for completion in 2017.

Kent State Finalizes Plans for New College of Architecture and Environmental Design Building

The Board authorized the university to move full-speed ahead with the first phase of construction for the distinctive, new building that will house Kent State’s nationally respected College of Architecture and Environmental Design, which offers Northeast Ohio’s only architecture degree program. The design plans for the 107,000 gross square-foot, “green” facility on the high-profile Lefton Esplanade are complete and an overall budget of $47.9 million, including $3.8 million in private donations and pledges from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, has been endorsed by the university’s Joint Project Oversight Committee.

The new building is part of Kent State’s historic Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future campus modernization initiative that is underway and will continue through 2017. With the Board’s authorization today of a new, Integrated Sciences Building for the College of Arts and Sciences and numerous renovations to existing science facilities, all of the major Foundations of Excellence projects have now been formally approved.

Kent State Establishes Policy to Support Service Members and Veterans

G.I. Jobs has included Kent State on its roster of Military Friendly Schools for 2015, the sixth consecutive year that the university has been recognized by the magazine. In keeping with that status, and in compliance with House Bill 488, the Kent State Board of Trustees established a university policy focused on providing support and assistance for students who are current members of the military or who are military veterans.

The new policy includes a range of services and programs, including a student services office and provisions for a student-led organization for service members and veterans. The policy also promotes collaborative relationships among service members, veterans and Kent State alumni, and promotes opportunities for internships and employment for service members and veterans through existing career-services programs.

Kent State Creates Online Respiratory Care Degree Program

To help meet a growing demand for respiratory care professionals and to open new doors of opportunity for current respiratory therapists, the Kent State Board of Trustees established a respiratory care major within the bachelor of science degree, effective Fall Semester 2015. The new degree program, which was developed in close consultation with regional health professionals, will be offered at Kent State University at Ashtabula as a fully online, two-year completer bachelor’s degree, offering certified and registered respiratory therapists opportunities to grow professionally in the areas of management, leadership, education, research, disease management and advanced clinical practice.

Respiratory therapists are employed in many areas of healthcare, including children’s and adult hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, long-term acute care facilities, home care, sleep labs, pulmonary function labs, physicians’ offices and freestanding emergency rooms. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of respiratory therapists is projected to grow by 28 percent from 2012 to 2020. Ohio is the nation’s fifth-largest employer of respiratory therapists.

Kent State Ashtabula has offered an accredited associate of applied science degree in respiratory therapy technology since 2008. The new major will provide seamless articulation for those associate-degree holders and for those with other associate degrees in respiratory therapy in Ohio and nationwide.

Termination of Greek Village Ground Lease; Purchase of Sigma Nu Fraternity House

Kent State’s focus on student success includes efforts to help ensure the availability of high-quality Greek housing and the development of a vibrant Greek-life community that is immersed in university life. Today, Kent State’s Board of Trustees took two related actions that will strengthen the university’s ability to work with Greek organizations to develop housing options.

The Board terminated the ground lease for the six-acre site known as “Greek Village” that has been held by a private developer, New Sigma Capital Partners LLC, since 2005. New Sigma Capital has only been able to sublease one parcel in the Greek Village, the site on which the Sigma Nu Fraternity Corporation built a fraternity house at its expense (and then subleased it to Kappa Sigma, Inc.). The company was therefore agreeable to ending the lease agreement and returning control of the property to the university.

In addition to terminating the lease with New Sigma Capital, the Board voted to purchase the Sigma Nu house at its appraised value of $665,000 in order to regain full control of all property and improvements to the Greek Village site. The Kappa Sigma fraternity has occupied the house since 2011 and the university will continue to lease it to Kappa Sigma.

Going forward, Kent State is exploring options for developing the six-acre site, which is located off of Summit Street in Kent, Ohio, near Ted Boyd Drive and Fraternity Circle.

Approval of Temporary Easement for Summit Street Project

For those who live, work and study on or near the Kent Campus of Kent State, Summit Street is a primary access route that is notoriously congested at many times during the day. The city of Kent has received federal and state highway-improvement funding to help improve traffic on what is now a two-lane road with little curbing, insufficient lighting, an incomplete sidewalk system and a large number of uncontrolled intersecting points from Lincoln Street to Loop Road. Kent State’s Board of Trustees voted today to grant a four-year easement to the city that is necessary for the installation, construction, reconstruction, use and improvements associated with the $16-million Summit Street Project. The temporary easement will take effect Jan. 1, 2015.

Naming of Facilities in New College of Architecture and Environmental Design Building

The Kent State Board of Trustees named the materials library that will serve students and faculty in the new building for Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design the Belden Brick Materials Library in honor of the Belden Brick Company of Canton, Ohio, the largest family-owned and managed brick company in the United States and the Belden Brick Company Charitable Trust, which pledged $40,000 to support the new building. Robert Belden, the company’s president and chief executive officer, has directed more than $16,000 to support the development of Kent State University at Stark and $45,000 to support golf outings that have benefited scholarship funds for College of Architecture and Environmental Design students.

Trustees also named the café that will be part of the new College of Architecture and Environmental Design building the George T. Simon III Café. George T. Simon, the law director for the Village of Linndale, Ohio, who is Of Counsel at McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co. LPA and an entrepreneur with extensive experience in real estate, made gifts of $25,000 and $36,500 to the College of Architecture and Environmental Design in honor of his son, George T. Simon III, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

In other action:

  • Board Chair Dennis E. Eckart announced that the formal inauguration of Kent State President Beverly Warren will be held May 1, 2015, in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center on the Kent Campus. Plans for the event and related activities will be announced in the coming weeks.
  • The Board passed a resolution of appreciation to Kent State and the regional partners with whom it won a national competition for raising regional educational attainment. The $1-million Talent Dividend Prize was won last month by the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area, which consists of Portage and Summit counties. It was one of 57 metropolitan areas that entered the Talent Dividend competition sponsored by CEOs for Cities, with the prize going to the area that increased educational attainment the most from 2009-10 through 2012-13. Trustees stressed that “the victory was possible due to a broad collaboration of partners including Kent State University, Hiram College, Northeast Ohio Medical University, the University of Akron, the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education and other organizations.” Kent State led the Akron metropolitan area’s growth in degrees awarded, contributing an increase of 1,234 degrees awarded and earning more than 61 percent of the points awarded to the area.
  • The Board heard a presentation from the consulting firm Collegiate Sports Associates, which the university has hired to lead an assessment of intercollegiate athletics at Kent State. The firm, along with a university steering committee, will make an assessment that focuses on the core values of continued student-athlete academic success, competitive success and an alignment of a long-term approach for intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the university. Preliminary findings, including results of an electronic survey of various athletic constituencies, will be received by March 2015.
  • The Board revised the name of Kent State’s Faculty Professional Development Center to the Center for Teaching and Learning, a change that more clearly defines the unit’s focus on teaching, learning innovation and educational support. The change is effective Spring Semester 2015.
  • The Board approved a $3.505-million increase in the budget for a major project to replace the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, and to improve student rooms in the Beall, McDowell, Dunbar and Prentice residence halls on the Kent Campus. The increased cost of the $19.305-million project, which will be funded with residence hall capital reserves, is due to broadened project scope, inflation and design complications.
  • The Board approved a $1-million project to renovate and modernize the public restrooms on all five floors of White Hall on the Kent Campus, which is the home of Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services. The project, which will be funded through departmental fund balances and university facilities improvement funds, will include such sustainable (green) features as energy-efficient lighting and low-flow fixtures. The project is expected to be completed during the summer 2015 recess in classes.
  • The Board authorized a 25-year, non-exclusive easement agreement with the Ohio Power Company for the purpose of installing and maintaining electrical lines to provide electrical energy to the Kent State University at Stark Sciences Building on Loop Road.
  • The Board purchased a home situated on a 0.1125-acre parcel of land at 419 E. College Avenue in Kent, Ohio, from Iris Melzer for $235,000, which is lower than its appraised value of $250,000. The two-and one-half-story property of about 1,820 square feet was purchased because it is in close proximity to the Lefton Esplanade that links the Kent Campus and downtown Kent and to the site of what will be the new home of the university’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Its location offers potential for expansion of the Kent Campus to enhance academic, athletic, recreational and residential programs, and to further promote the economic revitalization of the downtown area.
  • The Board granted emeritus status to: Dr. Stan Wearden, professor, Communication Studies; Dr. Donald Hassler, professor, English; Robin Heiman, professor, Foundation, Leadership and Administration; Dr. Averil McClelland, associate professor, Foundation, Leadership and Administration; Linda Liptok, assistant professor, Regional College, Tuscarawas; Dr. Jennifer Maxwell, associate professor, Political Science. Emeritus status is a distinguished title that honors a faculty or staff member’s contributions by allowing him or her continued access to university resources after retirement from the university.

# # #

Media Contacts:
Eric Mansfield, emansfie@kent.edu, 330-672-2797
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595