Kent State Moves Forward With Creation of Center for the Visual Arts

The state-of-art studies at Kent State will soon be state of the art in every way. The Kent State University Board of Trustees today (March 12) authorized the university to continue full-speed ahead with a project to build a new facility for its nationally respected School of Art. The new Center for Visual Arts will bring together the school’s studio, classroom and gallery spaces for the first time in more than 50 years. The project, which the Board originally approved in concept in 2012, is a high-priority component of Kent State’s historic “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future” initiative. In the next four years, “Foundations of Excellence” will transform the Kent Campus with new buildings and major renovations designed to ensure that Kent State offers a world-class, 21st-century college experience for decades to come.

Creation of the Center for Visual Arts, which the Board stipulated is not to exceed $33.8 million in revenue from a bond issue, will include the renovation of Van Deusen Hall (former home of the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology), renovation of the existing Art Annex (former university heating plant) and connection of the two buildings with a new addition. The combination of renovation and new construction, which is expected to be completed by August 2015, was determined to be the most cost-effective way to consolidate the art program, which currently is offered in six buildings, and to provide world-class classrooms, studios and galleries.

The 115,000 gross-square-foot Center for Visual Arts will comprise about 77,000 square feet of renovated space and about 38,000 square feet of new construction. The building will reflect Kent State’s commitment to sustainable design and operations, meeting the standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification. The building will feature Wi-Fi access, flat-screen visual access in classrooms and studios, a fabrication studio for 3-D printing, and other technologies.

New Kent State Program to Cultivate Agribusiness Experts

A new Kent State degree program in the high-demand and rapidly changing agribusiness industry has received overwhelming support from community, business and government leaders in and around Tuscarawas County. Kent State’s Board of Trustees today established a bachelor of science degree in agribusiness, effective fall semester 2014. The program will be offered at Kent State University at Tuscarawas through the university’s Regional College, with the opportunity for future expansion.

Agribusiness is a complex economic system that affects every member of the global community – from producer to consumer – and is a critical industry in Ohio and nationwide. It includes farm production and businesses that supply seed, fertilizer, chemicals, feed, fencing and equipment, and comprises sectors such as financing, insurance and marketing. Students in the new program will be prepared for jobs including management in an agribusiness firm, agricultural commodity merchandising, finance and lending, real estate management and investment, international trade, entrepreneurship, agricultural production, relationship and sales management, and food marketing and advertising.

The addition of an agribusiness degree program is the brainchild of a broad-based, New Program Development Task Force at Kent State at Tuscarawas. The task force conducted a needs assessment and hosted a community focus group that included representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, local economic-development councils, Farm Credit Services, local high schools and universities, and farm owners. In addition, a 14-member Agribusiness Advisory Board, comprising representatives from the local extension agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, Farm Credit Services, and Soil and Water Conservation District, contributed support and expertise toward the creation of the curriculum, which was developed in partnership with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Each representative involved in the needs assessment and program development affirmed a need for such a program and expressed overwhelming support for its creation at Kent State Tuscarawas.

Naming of Baseball and Softball Training Facility Honors Alumnus David Edmonds

Kent State’s Board of Trustees named the indoor training facility at Schoonover Baseball Stadium the David and Peggy Edmonds Baseball and Softball Training Facility. The Board’s action honors the parents of Kent State alumnus David B. Edmonds, who lettered in baseball and serves on the university’s National Athletic Development Council. Edmonds, who is the senior vice president, World Wide Services, with FedEx Services, gave the lead gift of $500,000 that will allow the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to add a state-of-the-art hitting facility to the university’s baseball complex that will give the Golden Flashes baseball and softball players a competitive edge as it helps recruit and retain talented student-athletes.

Naming of Baseball Practice Area Honors Alumnus Tom Cole

Kent State’s Board of Trustees named the playing surface within the indoor training facility at Schoonover Baseball Stadium the Tom and Barbara Cole Field. The Board’s actions honors Kent State alumnus Tom Cole, a former Golden Flash baseball player, and his wife, Barbara, whose gift of $100,000 will help the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to add a state-of-the-art hitting facility to the university’s baseball complex. Tom Cole, who recently retired as chief administrator for Macy’s Inc. in New York, also has supported scholarships in Kent State’s College of the Arts.

Naming of Facilities within the Historic May Prentice House

Kent State’s Board of Trustees named several facilities within the former May Prentice House in Kent to recognize university faculty and staff, and Kent-area community members, businesses and foundations that provided more than $96,000 in gifts and pledges to complete exterior and interior renovations to the historic house. The house, which was the former home of Kent State’s first female faculty member, May Prentice, was relocated to the Lester A. Lefton Esplanade and will serve as the home of the university’s nationally recognized Wick Poetry Center. The center offers poetry classes, poetry programs, and regional and local outreach.

The Board’s resolution expressed Kent State’s appreciation to Hometown Bank and Howard Boyle; the Woodward Foundation; Dr. Judith Stitzel; Dr. and Mrs. Paul Gaston; Kent Displays, Inc.; the Kim Sebaly Family; and Dr. Melody Tankersley et al.

The Board also named the following spaces in the May Prentice House: Hometown Bank Foyer; Jo Woodward Reading Room; Maggie Anderson Director’s Office; Community Outreach Manager’s Office; Kent Displays Writing Wall; Tyler Lee Gaston Porch; and Maj Ragain Porch.

Naming of Facilities and Amenities within the Poetry Park

Kent State’s Board of Trustees recognized a number of university faculty and staff, and Kent-area community members, businesses and foundations that provided more than $180,000 in gifts and pledges to create a green space and park — including an interactive poetry exhibit, performance venue and seating — that complements the new home of the Wick Poetry Center on the Lester A. Lefton Esplanade.

The Board’s resolution expressed appreciation to the Klaben Family and Klaben Auto Stores; Mrs. Carol Gould; Ron and Joan Burbick; Dr. Jerry and Jenelle Feezel; Drs. William and Ann Hildebrand; Dr. and Mrs. Raymond Craig; David Hassler; Donald Hassler III; Elizabeth Casale Ellis; United Church of Christ, Kent, Ohio; and Pauline Thornton and friends of the late James Thornton.

The Board also named the following areas in the Poetry Park: the Klaben Family Pathways; Albert and Rosaline Klaben Gateway; Professor Edwin Gould Amphitheater; Joan and Ron Burbick Outdoor Gallery; the Hildebrand and Craig Families Bench; In Memory of Diana Cain Hassler, a gift of her sons, David and Donald III; In Memory of Ottavio Casale; In Memory of James Thornton; a gift of United Church of Christ, Kent, Ohio.

Trustees Praise President’s Performance in Annual Evaluation

The Board awarded Kent State President Lester A. Lefton the full value of his performance-based bonus in accordance with his employment agreement and following an extensive review of his progress toward previously identified, strategic goals. The 25-percent bonus is effective July 1, 2014.

The Board commended Lefton, who became Kent State’s 11th president in July 2006 and is retiring as president on June 30 of this year, for continuing to lead Kent State to new heights of excellence during the last year.

“This year, and for the past seven years, President Lefton has delivered on his primary goal – ensuring in every way possible that we improve retention and develop the quality experiences and facilities that are appropriate for the aspirations of our students,” said Jane Murphy Timken, chair of Kent State’s Board of Trustees. “Trustees have described President Lefton as visionary and methodical, and he’s raised the bar on all fronts. We believe his tenure will be remembered as a dynamic time for Kent State.” 

In other actions:

  • The Board authorized a $15.8-million project to continue modernizing its residence halls with a range of improvements to Beall, McDowell, Dunbar and Prentice halls. The project, which will include replacement and upgrades to the halls’ heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems, and living-space enhancements such as new floor and wall finishes and new furniture systems, will be funded with residence hall capital reserves ($6 million in fiscal year 2015 and $9.8 million in fiscal year 2016).
  • The Board approved an overall 3.90-percent increase in the standard, undergraduate double-room and board rates, effective fall semester 2014. The increases will help offset rising costs for maintenance and repairs, utilities and food products, and will allow the university to continue operating its residence and dining programs on a self-sufficient basis while keeping room and board affordable for students and their families.
  • The Board approved a 4.5-percent tuition increase for the Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine for the 2014-15 academic year. The increase is not expected to change the college’s tuition ranking (fifth) relative to the eight other podiatric medicine colleges nationwide. Trustees also approved various changes in student fees, ranging from the elimination or reduction of some lab fees to new fees for a new exam required for a student’s residency placement. Kent State’s College of Podiatric Medicine operates under a different academic calendar than the rest of the university, with third- and fourth-year students starting their new academic year in May.
  • The Board revised the name of Kent State’s nationally respected Department of Psychology to better reflect the industry practice of referring to psychology as a science field and to more accurately reflect the nature of the discipline. Effective July 1, 2014, it will be named the Department of Psychological Sciences.
  • The Board consolidated translation majors in French, German, Russian and Spanish into a single translation major in the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies. The action will give students more flexibility in electives.
  • The Board reactivated and renamed the Justice Studies major, which was inactivated in 2013 when the Justice Studies department was disbanded, and established a fully online master’s-degree program in criminology and criminal justice, effective fall semester 2014.
  • The Board revised the name of the electronic media major in the College of Communication and Information to one that better reflects current technology used in all forms of electronic media: digital media production.
  • The Board established a university policy regarding on-campus activities involving minors. The policy identifies requirements for university programs and personnel working with minors to ensure their protection, fulfill the university’s obligations mandated by law and to provide the best-possible experience for minors participating in Kent State on-campus programs. For example, the policy requires background checks and training for all university personnel working with minors and minimum ratios of adults to minors.
  • The Board passed a resolution of appreciation to recognize the dedicated faculty, staff, alumni and community members who served on the 17-member Presidential Search Committee. The search reached a successful conclusion with the selection of Beverly J. Warren, Ph.D., as Kent State’s next president. Warren will become the university’s 12th president on July 1, 2014. The committee, led by University Trustee and Kent State alumnus Richard Marsh and Trustee Dennis Eckart, was formed after the announcement last year by President Lefton that he would retire from the presidency after eight years of service. The Board’s resolution notes that “the committee devoted substantial time, effort and energy to its charge, seeking the engagement of the Kent State family….”
  • The Board granted emeritus status to: Irene Edge, assistant professor, Regional College, Kent State at Ashtabula; and Dr. Chun-Che Tsai, professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry. Emeritus status is a distinguished title that honors a faculty or staff member’s contributions by allowing him or her continued access to university resources after retirement from the university.

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

POSTED: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:05 AM
Updated: Monday, February 8, 2016 03:35 PM