Kent State Awarded $3.5 Million Choose Ohio First Grants

The state of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Higher Education announced Monday, April 5, that Kent State University has been awarded Choose Ohio First grants totaling $3.5 million to support students in the critical fields of science (including health professions), technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Among the 57 Ohio colleges and universities selected as the new Choose Ohio First award recipients through a competitive process, Kent State received the fourth largest total award amount, which includes the largest single Fiscal Year 2021 award of all the awardees. 

The Choose Ohio First program began in 2008 as a way to increase the number of Ohio residents successfully completing STEM majors at Ohio’s public and private colleges and universities. Universities are vital engines for workforce vitality in the state, and the Choose Ohio First program provides support that will advance the economic growth of each region in the state. Designated Choose Ohio First programs are integrated with regional economies, meeting statewide educational needs, facilitating the completion of baccalaureate degrees in cost-effective manners and recruiting underrepresented STEM student groups, including women and students of color.

Kent State will receive a total of $3,521,900 in Choose Ohio First funds that will be divided between two grants. The first grant, the Fiscal Year 2021 Choose Ohio First grant, will provide $1,144,000 over five years to recruit and support each cohort during its educational journey. The second grant, the Fiscal Year 2016 Completion grant, will award $2,377,900 for a four-year program to support previously recruited and enrolled Choose Ohio First scholars to complete their degree.

“Our mission at Kent State is to provide access to higher education, independent of financial background,” Kent State President Todd Diacon said. “Support from Choose Ohio First is essential to more broadly offer affordable higher education to students in Kent State’s STEM programs. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Chancellor Randy Gardner for their leadership, support and commitment to investing in the STEM fields and for selecting Kent State for the latest Choose Ohio First awards.”

“Choose Ohio First provides an excellent opportunity for those students who stay in Ohio and continue their education to get the skills they need to succeed in promising career fields,” Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner said. “This new scholarship exemplifies Kent State’s continued commitment to these critical fields of study and, more importantly, its students.” 

Kent State has received support from Choose Ohio First in previous years. With the new grants, the university plans to continue to build on the strength of these current STEM programs that were awarded in 2016. The current programs are mathematics and computer sciences at the Kent Campus; chemistry, biochemistry and physics at the Kent Campus; bioengineering and life sciences at the Kent Campus; and mathematics and life sciences at the Stark Campus. In addition to these four programs of demonstrated strength, Kent State is including four new and emerging programs that are growing exponentially. These programs are aeronautics and engineering, environmental sciences and neuroscience at the Kent Campus and engineering technology at the Tuscarawas Campus. 

Each of these programs has leadership from Choose Ohio academic program leaders who are dedicated to support Choose Ohio First students. Kent State also has developed university-wide support for the Choose Ohio First students and the academic program leaders of all the programs for recruitment, student support, career exploration services and curriculum support in order to facilitate retention and on-time completion. Students will be supported by teams of designated and dedicated advisors in college and campus offices, academic program leaders and faculty in their majors. In addition, events will be organized to engage the students as a community and further strengthen their professional skills and preparedness for employment.

“The No. 1 priority at Kent State is our Students First approach, and we strive to provide an inclusive and engaged living-learning environment where all students thrive and graduate as informed citizens committed to a life of impact,” said Lique Coolen, Ph.D., associate dean of Kent State’s College of Arts and Sciences, professor of biological sciences and Brain Health Research Institute Executive Committee member, who is the principal investigator of this university-wide award. “A comprehensive recruitment and enrollment strategy will be used that includes outreach to high school students in Ohio and emphasizes recruitment of women and socially disadvantaged individuals.”

A key goal of the Choose Ohio First program at Kent State is to retain its credentialed graduates by connecting them to full-time employment in Ohio via work-based learning experiences and internships. Kent State implements university-wide career exploration services and aims for participation of all students in work-based learning experiences, such as internships with the university’s many business partners, and research lab experiences. The university’s selected programs prepare graduates for in-demand jobs in many occupation groups that are predicted to have substantial growth and need in Ohio.

For more information about the Choose Ohio First program at Kent State, visit

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Photo Caption:
A Kent State University student conducts research in a lab during spring 2018.

Media Contacts:
Eric Mansfield,, 330-672-2797
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Tuesday, April 20, 2021 12:02 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 02:42 PM