Keeping the Covenant: Serving the Public Good
During the last five years, efforts to fulfill Kent State's public-service mission have grown in size, scope and impact.
Kent State researchers are working to address societal ills and issues from environmental pollution to poverty to disease. By creating a Department of Applied Social and Behavioral Research within the College of Arts and Sciences, the university took a major step in applying research to solve community problems related to violence, crime, mental illness, addictions and other complex social ills.
Kent State students are engaged in a remarkable range of volunteer service programs and activities. From tutoring children to building homes through Habitat for Humanity, students contributed more than $480,000 in volunteer labor (per independent-sector values) during 2010 alone. Each year, participants in the Alternative Spring Break program hit the streets instead of the beaches to help people impacted by poverty and natural disasters. In 2011, Kent State became the first campus in Ohio chosen to join The Campus Kitchens Project, a national program to recover food from cafeterias and events to support local hot meals programs.
The university and the Urban Zen Foundation, which advocates the combination of Eastern and alternative healing therapies with Western medicine, are working to solve issues such as nursing burnout and job-related stress. The partnership with Kent State is the foundation's first collaboration with a university nursing program in the country.
Kent State's Alumni Association hosts an annual Alumni National Day of Service. Alumni devote hundreds of hours to community-service projects across Northeast Ohio and beyond.
Using May 4 as a Powerful Teaching Tool
As Kent State marked its Centennial in 2010, it also commemorated the 40th anniversary of the events surrounding May 4, 1970. As part of that milestone, the university succeeded in having the May 4 site added to the National Register of Historic Places, dedicated a May 4 walking tour and launched a fundraising effort for a multimedia May 4 Visitors Center. Many in the community - including alumni and many in the national and international news media - praised the focus on teaching the lessons of May 4 to current and future generations.
The Kent State University team responsible for the successful nomination of the site of the May 4, 1970, shootings to the National Register of Historic Places was recently honored with a 2010 Ohio Historic Preservation Merit Award.
The university's commemoration of May 4 and the associated events reached many tens of thousands of people - in person and online - from Aurora to New Zealand. The extensive educational and media relations work for the commemoration earned the highest honors presented in the 2010 Public Relations Society of America's Cleveland Rocks Awards, as well as several awards at the PR News' recognition ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Nov. 3, 2010.
Though a painful and sensitive event that continues to affect members of the Kent State community, the university was able to take the darkest day in its history and showcase the university in a positive light 40 years later.