Kent State Advances Its Culture of Research and Innovation With the Establishment of the Brain Health Research Institute
At the Kent State University Board of Trustees meeting held on Dec. 7, 2016, the Board voted to establish the Brain Health Research Institute, further supporting significant existing research and providing additional support for researchers to collaborate across multiple departments, colleges and campuses.
With more than 50 faculty members involved in brain health research, brain health is one of Kent State’s largest areas of research strength and opportunity.
Notable recent grants include a $3.5 million award to study mindfulness-based stress reduction for high blood pressure and a $440,000 award related to the study of Alzheimer’s disease.
Within specific areas of brain health, Kent State is ranked in the top three of institutions nationally for quantity and quality of publishing in the areas of trauma and post-traumatic stress, and was ranked first in memory and learning.
The university’s existing programs and areas of research strength to benefit from the institute include: neuroscience, stress/traumatic brain injury, learning strategies (Science of Learning and Education Center), neurodegenerative disorders, cognition in youth and the elderly, substance abuse and addiction, exercise/wellness and cognition, the Neurocognitive Research Program for the Advancement of the Humanities (NRPAH), and mindfulness and integrative health.
Establishing the Brain Health Research Institute aligns with the university’s strategic goals to build a culture of research and innovation and increase extramurally funded research.
Board Approves Establishing New Environmental Studies Major
The Board approved the proposal by the College of Arts and Sciences to establish the Environmental Studies major within the Bachelor of Arts degree. The interdisciplinary degree program will be administered by the Department of Geography and fully offered on the Kent and Stark campuses.
Kent State presently offers discipline-specific environmental concentrations at the baccalaureate level in biology, geology, geography and public health. The proposed interdisciplinary Environmental Studies major draws upon these and other existing academic disciplines and involves a strong natural scientific base primarily anchored with the social sciences and the human dimensions of environmental problems.
The proposed program prepares graduates for careers in areas including environmental science, education, urban and regional planning, natural resource management, and archiving in natural history and science museums. An advisory Environmental Studies Committee has been established and includes representatives from the program’s affiliated departments – Geography, Geology, Sociology and Biological Sciences.
The proposed establishment of the Environmental Studies major within the Bachelor of Arts degree has been reviewed and approved by the appropriate school, college and campus faculty curriculum committees; the Educational Policies Council; and the Faculty Senate. It also carries the endorsement of the provost and the president. The Board approved the establishment of the new degree program, effective fall 2017, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission.
In other actions:
- The Board approved renovations to Taylor Hall for the School of Visual Communication Design after the relocation of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design. The project will address deferred maintenance and code compliance, and prepare the vacated spaces for new programmatic needs. The total project cost is estimated at $8.85 million. The university will use $8 million in state capital funds allocated to this project as part of Senate Bill 310, subject to Controlling Board approval. The college will provide $850,000 from its fund balance to support pre-design services and to cover the upfront costs of improvement associated with a new gallery that will showcase students’ work and other noteworthy spaces while fundraising for these projects is underway.
- The Board approved renovations to Lake and Olson halls, which were constructed in 1961 and are home to 470 students. The project will address critical deferred maintenance issues within the halls, including roof and masonry repairs and replacement; replacement and upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; and a general finish upgrade to the individual residence rooms. The Department of Residence Services has designated $8.3 million in facility maintenance funding for the improvements required within the project scope. Upgrades will be completed during the 2017 summer recess in classes with minimal impact on the buildings’ normal occupancy.
- The Board approved renovations to Bowman Hall, home to the College of Arts and Sciences and multiple schools, departments and classrooms. Bowman Hall was constructed in 1962. The university continues to address major deferred maintenance associated with the structure and will use $4 million in state capital improvement funds from Senate Bill 310, subject to Controlling Board approval, to replace the building’s failing mechanical and lighting systems, increasing the comfort associated with and energy efficiency of these systems. Due to the extent of above-ceiling work, a majority of the original ceiling as well as some interior finishes will be refreshed, making a noticeable improvement to the building’s feel and function. Construction is anticipated to begin as early as May 2017.
- The Board approved renovations to Moulton Hall for the growing College of Public Health. In order to address the college’s increasing enrollment, faculty and staff, and expanding research needs, the university has identified approximately 9,200 square feet of space in Moulton Hall that would be renovated to accommodate the program. Renovations include offices, classrooms and research laboratories. The university will utilize $3 million in state capital improvement funds from Senate Bill 310 to support this initiative, following approval by the Controlling Board. Construction is anticipated to begin in May 2017, starting with the classroom modifications and dean’s suite improvements. It is anticipated that the classroom improvements would be completed prior to the start of the 2017 Fall Semester. The research laboratories would be completed by early 2018.
- The Board approved replacing the roof of Kent State University at Trumbull’s Main Classroom Building. The roof is more than 25 years old and is in failing condition. The project includes replacing the failing roof with a new system, including building fascia, flashings and emergency overflow drains. The university has received $1.15 million in state capital improvement funds to address this project, and the Trumbull Campus has allocated $420,000 of campus facilities maintenance funds, for a combined total project cost of $1.57 million. With Board approval, the design will begin immediately with construction occurring during the summer and fall 2017 construction seasons.
- The Board approved the purchase of the property at 430-436 E. Main Street in Kent. Kent State has identified areas of interest for the expansion of the Kent Campus for purposes of enhancing academic, athletic, recreational and residential programs as well as promoting downtown revitalization through the extension of the Lefton Esplanade into downtown Kent. The property located at the intersection of East Main and North Lincoln streets has become available for purchase. The proposed purchase price of $2.2 million is within the parameters of the independent property appraisals. The current owner will continue to manage the property on behalf of Kent State for a minimum of three years and to transfer the rental income to the university. While the university does not have immediate plans to develop this property until the completion of the facilities master plan, its location is key to the planning process.
- Following the recommendation of the College of Communication and Information, the Board approved the inactivation of the Center for the Study of Information and Religion, effective spring 2017. The center was established to provide an interdisciplinary approach to facilitate research focused on the various institutions and agents of religion and their effort on social knowledge through the use, dissemination and diffusion of information. In spring 2015, School of Library and Information Science faculty voted to inactivate the center as the subject area is not a strategic curricular or program priority for the school. Student enrollment is not linked to the curriculum, the two faculty members previously responsible for its operations are no longer with the university and there were no activities in the past year related to the center. The proposed inactivation of the Center for the Study of Information and Religion has been reviewed and approved by the College of Communication and Information Curriculum Committee, the Educational Policies Council and the Faculty Senate, and carries the endorsement of the provost and president.
- Following the recommendation of a cross-departmental committee of university administrators, the Board approved the vendor selection of The AG Group Inc. dba AG Print Promo Solutions and ASW Global dba Global Promotions & Incentives for promotional products to support the university’s promotional and related service requirements for its eight campuses. The proposed purchase agreements will be for initial terms of two years with an estimated combined total of $1.47 million with university options to renew up to three additional one-year periods at an estimated $735,000 per year, for potential total contract durations of five years. The vendors were selected for providing the proposals with the best overall value.