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Summary of Kent State University Board of Trustees Actions

Posted May, 26, 2010

At its May 26 meeting, the Kent State University Board of Trustees took action on the following items:

Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Reflects Universitywide “Excellence Agenda”

The Board approved a balanced operating budget that reflects Kent State University’s record enrollment this year and projected enrollment increases at the Kent Campus and several Regional Campuses for the coming academic year; its ongoing commitment to academic excellence and student success; and its leadership role in serving Northeast Ohio as an economic engine. The budget, which totals $544.2 million ($544,239,966) for Kent State’s eight-campus system, spans fiscal year 2010-11 (July 1, 2010–June 30, 2011).

Priorities identified for the new budget are increases in student scholarships; investments in academic programs in high-demand areas such as public health; public safety; support for library collections; and compensation increases for employees represented by a bargaining unit (a 3-percent salary pool also was reserved for non-represented employees).

The budget comprises $5.9 million in continuing commitments that have yielded new revenue for the university. These commitments, which originally were funded from a $50 million strategic investment fund, include support for student recruitment and retention initiatives, marketing and private fundraising.

Tuition Increase and Fee Changes

In response to a decline in state funding for higher education and to enable Kent State to continue its multi-faceted efforts to provide students with a high-caliber educational experience, the Board increased tuition by 3.5 percent for undergraduate and graduate students on the university’s eight campuses. The increase is in keeping with a state-mandated limit on undergraduate tuition increases for the 2010-11 academic year and is expected to leave Kent State’s tuition ranked in the middle of Ohio’s 11 comprehensive universities.

The Board also increased the surcharge for out-of-state students by 3.5 percent. Special non-resident rates offered to students from Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia remain in effect, giving students from those areas an 80-percent reduction in the non-resident surcharge rate.

Effective fall semester 2010, undergraduate tuition for students at the Kent Campus will increase $152 per semester (from $4,363 to $4,515). Graduate tuition will increase $162 per semester (from $4,641 to $4,803).

The Board also authorized changes in a variety of course fees and other student fees, ranging from the elimination of a $20 fee for students in an art course to an increase of $800 for students enrolled in the financial engineering master’s-degree program.

Capital Plan for Fiscal Years 2011-2016 Points to Major Campus Improvements

The Board approved a comprehensive capital plan that identifies key building and renovation projects for Kent State’s eight campuses for the period 2011-2016. All of Ohio’s public colleges and universities are required to submit long-range capital plans to the Ohio Board of Regents every two years.

The plan reflects academic priorities; infrastructure-upgrade needs; and a planned $250 million deferred-maintenance and academic-facility improvement initiative. It includes projects funded by the state and those requiring additional funding through the university, private donations and bond revenues.

The plan is contingent upon the levels of capital appropriations made by the Ohio General Assembly. Kent State’s plan, which requests about $65.5 million in state capital appropriations across the six-year span, incorporates projects carried over from the previous capital plan and introduces new projects.

Among the projects in the plan are major renovations of the science buildings on the Kent Campus (Williams, Smith and Cunningham halls); a major renovation of the Art Building on the Kent Campus; a renovation of the gym at Kent State University at Salem; and renovations of the first floor of the Main Hall at Kent State University at Ashtabula.

University Strategic Plan Maps Future Based on Academic Excellence, Student Success and Public Service

The Board unanimously endorsed a strategic plan to guide Kent State’s future that focuses on fostering student success; achieving new levels of excellence in research and all academic pursuits; and affirms the university’s commitment to public service in its second century. Trustees noted that the plan is, in essence, an action plan to bring to life the “excellence agenda” espoused by President Lester A. Lefton since his arrival in 2006.

Earlier this year, each university division created its own strategy map. The maps articulated specific actions to be taken in support of the institution’s overall mission, vision and strategic goals, as well as measures of success. The divisional maps were aggregated into one strategic plan document.

The strategic plan identifies six strategic goals: ensuring student success; enhancing academic excellence and innovation; expanding breakthrough research and creative endeavors; engaging with the world beyond our campuses; securing our financial future; and developing and recognizing our people.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Program Addresses Nursing Shortage

To provide Ohio and the nation with highly skilled nurses at a time of a growing nursing shortage; and to expand and strengthen Kent State’s master’s-degree program in advanced nursing practice, the Board established a doctor of nursing practice degree within the College of Nursing, effective spring semester 2011. The creation of the program will comply with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing position that all master’s-level advanced practice degree programs should be transitioned to the doctoral level by 2015.

The new program is distinct from Kent State’s existing doctoral program in nursing, which is offered jointly with the University of Akron and focuses on research. The new program will focus on clinical practice.

The program was approved previously by the university’s Educational Policies Council and Faculty Senate.

Property Exchange Approved for Downtown Development

To extend the Kent Campus Esplanade and follow through with plans for a university-affiliated hotel and conference center in downtown Kent, the Board authorized the exchange of university property on South Water Street appraised at $270,000 for property on Depeyster Street owned by the city and appraised at $280,000.

The exchange, which was approved by Kent City Council on May 5, gives the Kent State University

Foundation ownership of all properties required to build the hotel and conference center.

The university views the addition of a hotel and conference center as a key component of its plans to create a world-class university, and as a means of boosting economic growth in the city it has called home for 100 years.

In partnership with the Pizzuti Company, which is owned by Kent State alumnus and former university Trustee Ronald Pizzuti, the university is working to establish an investment entity that will act as owner of the hotel and conference center facilities.

Demolition of the buildings on each of the properties involved in the exchange could begin as early as September 2010.

In separate actions that support the planned expansion between the Kent Campus and downtown Kent, the Board also approved the purchase of four properties in the city of Kent: property owned by Kent Campus Rentals LLC at 133 S. Willow St. for $255,000; property owned by LKG Corporation and LKG, Inc. at 416 College Ave. and 320 E. Erie St. for $165,000 and $170,000, respectively; and property owned by Frank Hornyak at 250 E. Erie St. for $225,000.

Kent State and Tuscarawas County University Branch District Renew Contract

The Board approved the continuation of a longstanding contract between the university and the Tuscarawas County University Branch District that allows the university to administer and operate its Tuscarawas Campus on behalf of the county. The 10-year contract, which is effective July 2010, was approved by the Tuscarawas County Branch District trustees.

Annual Election and Compensation of the President

In keeping with the university’s constitution, the Board voted unanimously to re-elect Dr. Lester A. Lefton to a fifth term as Kent State University president. The university constitution requires the Board to hold an annual election of the university president.

The Board also voted to increase Dr. Lefton’s base salary by 3 percent and awarded the president the full value of his performance-based bonus pursuant to his employment agreement, effective July 1, 2010.

The Board commended Dr. Lefton, who became Kent State’s 11th president in July 2006, for his efforts in leading Kent State to new heights of excellence, including successes during Kent State’s centennial year that include records in enrollment, retention, research funding and private giving; major progress toward transforming the Kent Campus in ways that will improve the educational experience of students and help boost the economy of the city of Kent; continuing efforts in campus sustainability; and meaningful action toward making all Kent State campuses more inclusive.

In other actions:

• The Board approved the merger of the department of sociology and the department of justice studies, effective fall semester 2010. The new department, which will result in greater efficiencies and new research collaborations, will be known as the department of sociology.

Many other universities house justice studies and criminal justice majors within the department of sociology, since there is a natural affinity between these areas of teaching and research. The merger, which was requested by the College of Arts and Sciences, was previously approved by the university’s Educational Policies Council and Faculty Senate.

• To improve the learning environment on the Kent Campus, the Board authorized the second phase of a $3.5 million project to renovate deteriorating Risman Plaza. Risman Plaza, which is located adjacent to the Kent Student Center and the University Library, is a primary and prominent entry point to the Kent Campus and one of the most popular gathering places for students, employees and visitors. The second phase, which will be completed during spring and summer of 2011, will include the relocation of Risman Drive and construction of a new campus green between the plaza and Summit Street.

• The Board approved a $1.725 million project to renovate the first floor of the Kent Campus Library. The project, which will be reimbursed with bond funding for a major university improvement initiative, will renovate the library’s public entrance, lobby, circulation desk and first-floor offices.

• The Board approved a project totaling $5.6 million to convert Stewart Hall, an unused residence hall on the Kent Campus, into a general office building for the department of Information Services. The improvements are scheduled for completion by spring semester 2011.

• The Board authorized the execution and filing of an application for federal assistance from the Federal Transit Administration for the expansion of a project to construct a transit shelter on the Kent State University at Geauga Campus adjacent to the main building and student parking lot. Trustees authorized the project in November 2008 after the university received a $441,000 earmark grant for the project from the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the region. The project will promote the use of public transportation.

• The Board authorized a 2-percent increase in the pay structures for all university staff members who are not represented by a bargaining unit, including unrepresented classified civil service staff; unclassified hourly staff; unclassified administrative and professional staff; and unclassified nonexempt staff; and Intercollegiate Athletics staff. The revised pay structures are effective with the pay period that includes Sept. 1, 2010. Pay schedules identify minimum, mid-point and maximum pay levels.

• The Board inactivated the associate of applied science program in horticulture technology at Kent State University at Geauga, effective fall semester 2010. The few students currently enrolled in the two-year program will be able to complete their degrees. The Board also inactivated the associate of technical study in industrial trades technology program at the campus.

• The Board amended the university’s policy regarding unlawful discrimination and harassment to include the prohibition of discrimination in health coverage and employment based on genetic information.

• To provide much-needed, additional parking for Kent State University at East Liverpool, the Board authorized the purchase of three properties in East Liverpool owned by Willis Smith Jr. and Nan Marie Smith at 329 Broadway Ave. (known collectively as Smith Auto Parts) for $80,666.77. The purchase will be funded by the University Board of Trustees for $76,000 and the Friends of the East Liverpool Campus for $4,666.67.

• The Board unanimously passed a resolution of appreciation acknowledging the outstanding service of Trustee Brian D. Tucker, current Board vice chair whose term on the Board is ending. Tucker, a Kent State alumnus who holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and is a recipient of the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, is publisher and editor of Crain’s Cleveland Business. Trustees commended Tucker as a leader who “has advanced his beloved alma mater in far-reaching ways, perhaps most notably through his service as one of three trustees on the Presidential Search Committee that recruited Dr. Lester A. Lefton as Kent State’s 11th president in 2006.”

• The Board unanimously passed a resolution of appreciation to Erin M. West, whose term as a Student Trustee is ending. West, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology earlier this month, was commended for bringing “thoughtful and helpful perspectives to the deliberations of the Board, drawing upon her experiences as an accomplished undergraduate student in the Honors College.”

• The Board unanimously passed a resolution of appreciation to Laing Kennedy, who is retiring after 16 years as Kent State’s director of athletics, and honored him with the title of athletic director emeritus. Trustees commended Kennedy for taking Kent State athletics to national prominence and noted that “he is perhaps best known and appreciated for taking a personal interest in the well-being of student-athletes, cheering their academic victories, progress, and graduation just as passionately as their play.” Under Kennedy’s leadership, Kent State captured 93 Mid-American Conference championships; produced 274 individual MAC champions; finished second in the nation in the Excellence in Management Cup; completed major upgrades to Dix Stadium; constructed softball, baseball and field hockey fields; opened a state-of-the-art golf training center; and saw student-athletes earn a record, overall 3.0 grade-point average last fall.

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Media Contact:
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595