Kent State University Board of Trustees Celebrates Enrollment, Graduation Achievements
Kent State University’s Board of Trustees celebrated the high quality of the university’s fall enrollment, a record number of degrees and certificates awarded and an impressive national ranking, while also approving a university budget that ensures all students continue to receive a world-class education.
University leaders shared Kent State’s fall enrollment figures during the Board’s Sept. 13 meeting by highlighting the 4,263 students in the university’s incoming class. This marks the seventh consecutive year of freshman enrollment exceeding 4,000 on the Kent Campus. Board members also learned of the awarding of a record-breaking 10,000 degrees and certificates for the 2016-2017 academic year and of a 31 percent increase in both research awards and philanthropic support. This continues the university’s upward trajectory among the top public research universities in the nation.
Board members also applauded Kent State’s recent ranking on the Best National Universities list by U.S. News & World Report, rising an impressive 12 spots to No. 176 and earning a coveted spot on the first-tier list. This ranking places Kent State among the top 100 public universities nationwide.
“We are well-positioned to continue our trajectory of success as a result of the dedication and talent of our faculty, staff and students,” says Kent State President Beverly Warren. “Our momentum as a university on the rise continues thanks to our focus on creating a quality environment for learning and discovery that results in the transformation of lives and communities.”
Board Briefed on High-Quality Freshman Class and Record Honors College Enrollment
Following a record 10 consecutive years of enrollment growth on the Kent Campus, Kent State’s official fall 2017 enrollment for the eight-campus system is 39,367 students. While boasting the largest enrollment of all universities in Northeast Ohio and the third largest statewide, Kent State’s enrollment decreased 3.5 percent from last fall. This decrease in total enrollment was anticipated due to a nationwide decline in international students attending American universities. Nearly 73 percent of the enrollment change can be attributed to a drop in the number of international students choosing to study at Kent State. Despite this turn, Kent State’s international enrollment remains strong.
For the seventh consecutive year, Kent State has enrolled an incoming class of more than 4,000 students on the Kent Campus, including a record enrollment of nearly 1,500 students in the Honors College. This year’s freshman class is the brightest in history, with an average 3.4 grade point average (GPA) and average ACT score of 23.2. Honoring its commitment to affordability, Kent State offered nearly 7 percent more in financial aid than one year ago with no increase in tuition.
Other enrollment highlights:
- All 6,000+ beds in Kent State’s 25 residence halls are full, confirming a high demand for an on-campus student experience on the Kent Campus.
- This fall, 2,090 international students from 104 countries registered for classes on the Kent Campus. Kent State remains committed to being a global university that provides transformative experiences to support students in discovering their passion and purpose.
Board Approves University Budget
Amid these opening-of-school highlights, the Board of Trustees approved a $669 million budget for 2017-2018, which allows Kent State to remain in a healthy and solid financial position to meet the needs of its students, staff and faculty. The budget recognizes the importance of affordability and encouraging student success; addresses critical commitments and strategic investments; and reflects the keen emphasis the Board and the university place on effectiveness, efficiency and resource optimization. The budget provides resources to fulfill Kent State’s “Students First” commitment, with increased investments in scholarships and priorities outlined in A Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State. The budget ensures necessary funding for university operations and continued progress of Kent State’s excellent academic programs.
Kent State maintains a strong financial performance and position as evidenced by positive financial metrics and bond ratings by both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s this year. In late June, the legislature approved a state budget that froze in-state tuition and froze funding for the State Share of Instruction (SSI). Despite these budget pressures, the university is well-positioned for future growth and continued financial stability. The Board acknowledged proactive financial management that includes strategic management of contracts for dining and beverage services; industry-leading energy stewardship that continued the trend in energy savings and reductions in energy use; and strategic debt refinancing. Over the past three fiscal years, Kent State has delivered $26.6 million in effectiveness and efficiency savings, with projected savings of approximately $16.4 million in Fiscal Year 2018.
The $669 million balanced budget provides for increased investment in student scholarships and financial aid, funding for strategic roadmap priorities, and resources to maintain and upgrade facilities. The budget also provides a 2 percent salary increase pool for nonrepresented employees, along with previously negotiated wage increases.
Other financial highlights:
- Kent State’s rising trajectory of excellence was recognized by donors who gave a record-setting $38.9 million in gifts and new commitments – a 31 percent increase over the prior year.
- Funding from external entities to support Kent State research increased by 31 percent this year, totaling more than $29 million.
In other news:
- In another action effective with the 2018 Spring Semester, the Board approved a career services fee to expand opportunities for career exploration and development for all undergraduate students. The fee has a tangible benefit in preparing students for a successful transition into the workforce. Funds will be used to transform and elevate programs to assist students with career development, including internships, co-ops, online career resources, student/alumni networking and mentoring programs. The fee will be $6 per credit hour on the Kent Campus and $3.60 per credit hour for Regional Campuses, capped at 12 credit hours per semester.
- The Board reviewed the president’s annual report of accomplishments that showed growing momentum and progress on all of the goals outlined in the strategic roadmap. The Board commended the university’s progress in advancing its “Students First” priority, academic reputation, enrollment, quality of the student body, research funding, fundraising, and financial and operational performance. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the well-being and advancement of Kent State, the Board affirmed that President Warren exceeded all performance goals for the year and would receive the full amount of her performance incentive.
- The Board confirmed David E. Dix as a community (non-institutional) member of the Board of Directors of Western Reserve Public Media (Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio) for a three-year term commencing Sept. 1, 2017. Dix has a distinguished record of community service and civic engagement including membership on the Kent State Board of Trustees from 1976-1985 and a prolific career in communications with more than four decades as publisher of Record Publishing Co.