A reception and celebration to honor Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton was held on Friday, April 4, from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Kent Student Center Ballroom. The event, hosted by the Kent State Board of Trustees, was open to all faculty, staff, students, alumni and members of the community.
Lefton, who will retire as Kent State’s 11th president on July 1, has served as the university’s chief executive officer since July 1, 2006. The university achieved significant accomplishments during his time as Kent State president, including record student enrollment, retention and graduation numbers; the town-gown partnership that resulted in the revitalization of downtown Kent; the university’s Centennial Campaign that raised a record-breaking $265 million; and the “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future” campus improvement program that is transforming Kent State’s campuses to meet world-class standards.
“This year, and for the past seven years, President Lefton has delivered on his primary goal – ensuring in every way possible that we improve retention and develop the quality experiences and facilities that are appropriate for the aspirations of our students,” Kent State Board Chair Jane Murphy Timken said at the most recent Kent State Board of Trustees meeting. “We’ve grown our enrollment by more than 26 percent and raised our profile as a university of choice, and it has been instrumental to our academic and financial health. We believe his tenure will be remembered as a dynamic time for Kent State.”
The afternoon reception featured a video presentation and remarks from Todd Diacon, Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost; Alfreda Brown, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion; and Evan Gildenblatt, the university’s special assistant for Federal Relations in Washington, D.C., and a former executive director for Kent State’s Undergraduate Student Government. Lefton also made remarks at the event.
An evening reception also took place April 4 in the Erdmann-Zucchero Black Box Theatre in the Center for the Performing Arts. The Celebration of Leadership event included a special performance by 14 Kent State senior theatre students and remarks from Charlene Reed, Kent State’s vice president and university secretary; Sandra Harbrecht, who served two terms as board chair and chaired the presidential search committee that led to the appointment of Lefton as the university’s 11th president; and Lefton. In addition, artist Shane Neal unveiled the official presidential portrait of Lefton.