In 1957, a group of concerned citizens from Ashtabula came together to discuss how to ensure economic vitality within their community. Those community leaders decided it was important to obtain an accredited university program in the county. Thanks to their efforts, Kent State University at Ashtabula was established in 1958 as the Ashtabula Center of Kent State University, housing 253 students in an old, abandoned junior high school building in the center of the city.
The school quickly began to outgrow the facilities in the old Park Avenue Junior High building. In 1963, 80 acres of land overlooking Lake Erie was donated by local entrepreneur Oliver C. Topky. Built at a cost of $1 million, the Main Hall groundbreaking took place in 1965, and classes began there in the fall of 1967. The Library and Technology (now the Bookstore) buildings were added in 1972.
Since its founding, thousands of students have graduated from the Kent State Ashtabula campus. Tens of thousands more have enjoyed free outdoor summer and indoor classical concerts, taken non-credit classes, assembled in one of our meeting rooms, sipped wine on our front lawn and were touched in some way by the campus and the people who work there.
Nearly 50 years from those opening days, the campus held a groundbreaking ceremony for the state-of-the-art Robert S. Morrison Health & Science Building, ushering in an era of record enrollment and new academic programs. That facility, along with updates, improvements and renovations during the past two years to Main Hall are designed to meet the needs of students and the community.