Six-Year Capital Plan Approved to Support Kent State’s Physical Transformation

Kent State University’s Board of Trustees today (Dec. 4) approved a comprehensive, six-year capital plan that requests state funding for key building and renovation projects for the university’s eight campuses for the period 2015-2020. All of Ohio’s public colleges and universities are required to submit such long-range plans to the Ohio Board of Regents every two years, and all plans are contingent upon the levels of capital appropriations that will be made by the Ohio General Assembly.

Kent State’s six-year capital plan, which requests about $86 million in state capital appropriations across six years, reflects academic priorities, infrastructure-upgrade needs and a backlog of deferred-maintenance projects. It incorporates projects carried over from the previous capital plan and introduces new projects; and it includes projects funded by state capital appropriations and those requiring additional funding through the university, through bond proceeds or with the help of private donations.

Kent State’s six-year capital request supports the goals of its historic “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future” initiative, which is using $170 million in bond funding to transform the university with new buildings and revitalized classroom, laboratory, studio, performance, living and studying spaces in the next four years. The top priority for the first biennium of the capital plan (covering 2015-16) is the phased renovation and rehabilitation of the science buildings on the Kent Campus (Cunningham, Williams and Smith halls), which along with the construction of an interdisciplinary research building are among the largest and most far-reaching Foundations of Excellence projects.

Another project identified for the first two years of the capital plan is the design of a project to house Kent State’s nationally respected School of Visual Communication Design (VCD) in Taylor Hall.  The school’s relocation from its current home in the Art Building would allow VCD faculty and students to maximize an existing, strong synergy with the School of Communications Studies, which already is located in Taylor Hall.

The capital plan includes a number of projects across Kent State’s seven Regional Campuses that target classroom modernization, deferred maintenance and modest building expansions to address growing programs in areas such as nursing, allied health and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. These projects include the renovation of the Main Hall at Kent State University at Ashtabula; the continuation of classroom renovations at Kent State University at East Liverpool; an evaluation of needs to be addressed by the renovation and expansion of the Classroom Building at Kent State University at Geauga; the completion of renovations to the original gymnasium at Kent State University at Salem to provide science laboratories; renovations and an addition to the Fine Arts Building at Kent State University at Stark; improvements to the Classroom Building Library/Theatre Building at Kent State University at Trumbull; and the start of renovations to and expansion of Founders Hall at Kent State University at Tuscarawas.

University Esplanade Named in Honor of President Lester A. Lefton

The Kent State University Board of Trustees today formally named the University Esplanade, the scenic walkway that spans the Kent Campus and connects the campus with downtown Kent, in honor of Kent State President Lester A. Lefton, who will retire next July after serving as the university’s 11th leader for eight years. Lefton was a driving force behind the nationally recognized revitalization of Kent’s downtown and the major, multimillion-dollar initiative to modernize the university’s eight campuses with new buildings and major renovations that is known as “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future.”

Noting that the Lester A. Lefton Esplanade is a symbol of the strong connection between a vibrant campus and a newly vibrant city, the trustees’ resolution stated that “President Lefton’s leadership legacy includes efforts to forge a new era of town-gown cooperation, to make Kent State one of America’s best college towns and to transform Kent State’s campuses into 21st-century learning environments that will cultivate student success for decades to come.”

The Board’s resolution also commended Lefton for a commitment to excellence that “has led Kent State to new heights of achievement, making student success Kent State’s top priority, setting new records in enrollment and fundraising, elevating the university’s academic strengths and standing, launching new programs in high-demand and emerging fields, increasing its international presence; and modernizing facilities to meet the aspirations of our students and their families.”

Revision of Policy Regarding Student Housing

Students enrolled at Kent State’s residential Kent Campus now have the option of living off campus a little earlier than in previous years. In revising the university’s student-housing policy, which requires single students who are taking nine or more credit hours to live in a university residence hall for their first two years, the Board decreased the number of credit hours needed to live off campus from 64 to 60 (the threshold for achieving junior-class standing) and the minimum age to live off campus from 21 to 20, effective Spring Semester 2014.

Students who live within a 50-mile driving distance from the Kent Campus, are active members of a university-recognized fraternity or sorority house or who participate in a university program that includes an off-campus living site remain exempt from the policy.

Internationally Renowned Kent State Researcher Receives University Honor

For more than 40 years, Kent State has been the academic home base of one of the world’s most renowned biological anthropologists. Today, the university’s Board of Trustees recognized the many contributions of faculty member C. Owen Lovejoy, Ph.D., to the understanding of human origins and to Kent State by awarding him the title of Distinguished Professor of Human Evolutionary Studies, effective Sept. 1, 2013.

Lovejoy, who retired last July and was rehired in September to continue his internationally respected research and teaching, which attracts students from around the world to Kent State, is the author of nearly 150 published scholarly articles about human evolution, forensics, demography, biomechanics and evolutionary theory. He holds the honor of being one of the Institute for Scientific Information’s “Most Highly Cited” authors in the general sciences and recently was elected Chair of Anthropology for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Lovejoy was elected to the NAS, one of the highest honors given to a scientist in the United States, in 2007 and serves as an editorial board member for its prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, he is a member of the search committee charged with finding Kent State’s next president (President Lefton is retiring next July).

In other action:

  • Lefton made a report to the Board about an innovative, new Kent State initiative to encourage high-school students – especially first-generation, low-income, high-achieving students who may not consider college an option – to begin thinking about and preparing to attend college; to provide a range of information and advice about the steps they will need to pursue postsecondary education; and to share Kent State’s many resources for aspiring college students, including web-based information and community mentors. The “See You @ College” program will deliver the message that earning a college degree is a viable goal through the university’s collaboration with a variety of community-based organizations, including schools, libraries, faith-based organizations and nonprofit groups, as well as national foundations and corporations. See You @ College will be launched with a conference on the Kent Campus on Feb. 13, 2014. With the theme “Helping Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things,” the conference is expected to attract 300 community leaders to hear keynote speakers including Greg Darnieder, a senior advisor with the U.S. Dept. of Education, and John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.
  • The Board granted emeritus status to: Dr. David Allender, professor, Physics; Dr. Johnnie Baker, professor, Computer Science; Dr. Carole Barbato, professor, Communications Studies, East Liverpool; Dr. Stephane Booth, professor, History, Salem; Dr. Christina Cook, assistant professor, Nursing; Dr. Dale Cook, professor, Foundations, Leadership and Administration; Dr. Laura Davis, professor, History, East Liverpool; Dr. Nancy Docherty, professor, Psychology; Dr. R. Scott Olds, professor, Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences and Epidemiology; Stephen Paschen, associate professor, University Libraries; and Dr. Gene Pendleton, associate professor, Philosophy. 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, December 4, 2013 09:55 AM
Updated: Monday, February 8, 2016 03:45 PM