The Carnegie Foundation ranks Kent State among the nation's top 77 public research universities, and a recent, independent study of Kent State's economic impact concluded that Kent State is Northeast Ohio's leading public research university. President Lefton believes that building on this leadership role is an institutional imperative - one that will help ensure Ohio's economic viability; help America regain its status as the world's innovation leader; and give Kent State students an edge as the innovators of the future.
During the last five years, Kent State faculty members in all disciplines have been meeting President Lefton's challenge to increase research activity and intensify their pursuit of federal funding that supports research, creative activity, and undergraduate and graduate education. The total of outside grants and contracts awarded in fiscal year 2010 was $10 million more than in fiscal year 2006.
Many discoveries originating at Kent State have the potential to spawn new products, new companies, new jobs and new tax revenues. A shining example is Kent Displays Inc., which creates applications for portable, liquid crystal-based devices and recently was awarded a $3 million federal grant. Its electronic writing tablet, the Boogie Board, is one of the most popular products on Amazon.com.
The university offers a range of resources that support regional economic development, including its Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development and centers geared to helping small and minority-owned businesses. Kent State research extends far beyond liquid crystal technology to areas from biomedicine to advanced materials. A $2.5 million federal grant enabled the addition of a 3D Immersive Classroom to facilities for studying the cellular basis of diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. Its sophisticated projection system produces large, three-dimensional images of cells. The Center for Materials Informatics was created to leverage faculty expertise in biotechnology, chemical physics and information architecture.