Name of the New Kent State University Esplanade to Honor University President Lefton

The Kent State University Esplanade will be named the Lester A. Lefton Esplanade honoring Kent State President Lefton. The announcement was made Friday, Oct. 4, by Jane Murphy Timken, chair of the Kent State Board of Trustees, at a community event held at the new University Esplanade arch near Main and Willow streets in Kent. The event celebrated the solid partnership between Kent State University and the city of Kent and the official opening of the University Esplanade extension that now connects the university to downtown Kent.

The naming will be made official through a resolution at the Dec. 4 Board of Trustees meeting. Lefton has served as Kent State’s chief executive officer since July 1, 2006. This past spring, he announced he will retire from the presidency of Kent State, effective July 1, 2014. Historically, the board has preserved the legacy of the university’s leadership through naming opportunities. Rather than waiting for the end of the academic year, Timken said now is the perfect time to recognize Lefton, Kent State’s 11th president, with all of the buzz and excitement coming from downtown Kent’s redevelopment and the university’s transformational projects.

“There could not be a more fitting tribute to President Lefton than naming the Esplanade, which now physically and symbolically connects town and gown, in his honor,” Timken said. “With a clear vision, a commitment to excellence and unshakable optimism, Dr. Lefton has led Kent State to new heights of achievement in areas from academic quality to fundraising to international programs. But his successful efforts to help forge a new era of cooperation between the university and the city of Kent; make Kent one of America’s best college towns; and to transform Kent State’s campuses into 21st-century learning environments – environments that cultivate student success now and for decades to come – will surely stand among his crowning contributions.”

The University Esplanade is built around the economic development of downtown Kent, and is a vital connection between the university and downtown projects that include PARTA’s new Kent Central Gateway multimodal transit center, private developments from Acorn Alley and Fairmount Properties, and the new Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center. It also provides a physical link and safe pathway for students to visit, enjoy and patronize local businesses; connects residents and visitors to the Kent Campus; and serves as a catalyst for changing the economy of the region by creating new jobs, spurring new investment and generating taxes to the state and local economy.

The successful collaboration between Kent State and the city of Kent has been recognized by several publications, including The New York Times, and by the International Town-Gown Association, which bestowed its inaugural award on Kent State and the city of Kent for the town-gown relationship that best represents the spirit of the association.

Under Lefton’s leadership, Kent State is making one of the largest investments related to higher education in the region and in Portage County. The university’s “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future” initiative includes the construction of new buildings, facility upgrades to existing buildings and the creation of dynamic, new spaces at its Kent Campus and Regional Campuses.

Learn more about the “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future” initiative

POSTED: Friday, October 4, 2013 10:45 AM
Updated: Monday, February 8, 2016 03:55 PM