Kent State Board Formalizes New 10-Year Agreement With Tuscarawas Campus
Kent State University’s long-standing relationship with the Tuscarawas County University Branch District to administer the Tuscarawas Campus of Kent State will continue through June 30, 2030, in a new 10-year agreement approved by the Kent State Board of Trustees. The contract was approved at the Board’s regular quarterly meeting, which was held Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the Tuscarawas Campus.
Located in New Philadelphia, Kent State University at Tuscarawas serves as one of Kent State’s seven Regional Campuses. Kent State Tuscarawas enrolls about 2,100 students who can complete 27 bachelor’s and associate degrees. The campus serves another 4,500 individuals through noncredit courses offered by the Office of Business and Community Services.
“Kent State has enjoyed a strong and long-standing partnership with the Tuscarawas County University Branch District,” Kent State President Todd Diacon said. “We are proud to extend that relationship for another 10 years to continue to provide a high-quality, affordable college education to the citizens of Tuscarawas County.”
“I am so pleased to have the opportunity to lead such a remarkable campus, working for such a great university,” said Brad Bielski, dean and chief administrative officer of Kent State Tuscarawas. “This partnership provides countless opportunities to serve the needs of this wonderful community. I wish to thank the members of the Kent State Board and administration and the Tuscarawas County University Branch District for their continued support and commitment to further strengthening our already strong relationship.”
The new contract delineates the terms under which Kent State will provide educational services to the Tuscarawas County University Branch District through June 30, 2030. In general, the university will administer and operate the campus, providing those services that educational institutions traditionally provide in the areas of instruction, finances, curriculum, administration, operation and maintenance of physical plant, and student services.
Board Approves Balanced University Budget, Including Additional Financial Aid for Students With Need
The Kent State Board of Trustees approved a $659.5 million balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2020 that positions Kent State in a solid and healthy financial position to meet the needs of its students, faculty and staff.
The budget allocates significant resources to fulfill Kent State’s Students First commitment, including increasing financial aid by up to $2 million for additional grants and aid that were made available to assist students and their families for the 2019 Fall Semester. The budget also includes a wage increase in accordance with collective bargaining agreements and wage increases for non-represented staff.
The Board acknowledged the university’s proactive financial management that includes strategic hiring management, energy stewardship, healthcare expense management, debt advance refunding, investment management and innovative strategic sourcing strategies. Over the past five years, Kent State has delivered nearly $75 million in effectiveness and efficiency savings.
The university was able to achieve a balanced budget primarily through continuing its strategic hiring process, which represents a savings of $8.5 million, and through an increase in investment income support for educational and general expenses, which amounts to $4 million.
The Board expressed its thanks to Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Legislature for approving a generous state budget and providing a 2% increase in State Share of Instruction (SSI), the state’s primary mechanism of subsidizing the instructional costs for in-state residents at Ohio’s public institutions of higher education.
Board Celebrates Largest Honors Class in History, Welcomes Freshman Class With Strong GPA and ACT Scores
The Board congratulated university leaders on its Class of 2023, recognizing the high quality of 4,270 new freshmen, many of whom now make up the largest class in Honors College history.
The Honors College reached a new record by welcoming 572 new freshmen, bringing the total number of students in the Honors College to 1,635. The freshman honors students have an average GPA of 3.86 and an average ACT score of 29.34. Nearly 77% of the freshman honors students are from Ohio, 22% are out-of-state students and the remaining 1% are international students.
The Board was pleased to welcome a freshman class boasting an average GPA of 3.45, a 0.05 increase over last fall. In addition, the new freshmen have an average ACT score of 23.23, also an improvement of 0.14 over last year’s freshmen. This marks the ninth consecutive year of freshman enrollment exceeding 4,000 on the Kent Campus.
The university also increased its retention rate at the Kent Campus and at the Regional Campuses, both by 0.4%. The Kent Campus retention rate is now 81.2% while retention at the Regional Campuses is 57.7%.
This year’s total overall enrollment through the eight-campus system is 37,411 students, consisting of 26,804 students at the Kent Campus and 10,607 students at the Regional Campuses. While boasting the largest enrollment of all universities in Northeast Ohio, the Kent Campus enrollment decreased slightly more than 1% compared to fall 2018.
The welcoming of new students follows outstanding news regarding Kent State’s recent graduates.
President Diacon has made helping Kent State’s students to complete a degree in four years to be a priority, and the university has already made tremendous progress. The four-year graduation rate has improved to nearly 51%, an impressive increase compared to last year’s rate of 47.3%. This rate has increased for five consecutive years and has more than doubled in the past 11 years. In addition, the university’s six-year graduation rate has now reached 62.6%, up from the previous rate of 58.9%. The six-year rate is considered to be the national standard in comparing four-year degree-granting institutions.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, Kent State students earned an impressive 9,915 degrees and certificates.
Board Approves Renovations to Kent Student Center
The 288,000-square-foot Kent Student Center opened in 1972 and serves as the primary center of student activity on the Kent Campus. During the past 47 years, the building has undergone numerous minor renovations to update its appearance and functionality to better serve students. To address critical deferred maintenance and upgrade safety features, create new student-centered spaces and update the interior finishes and furniture, the Board approved the design and construction of the first phase of renovations to the Kent Student Center.
Recently, the university completed a visioning and master planning exercise for the building and expects to execute several phased projects to reimagine the Kent Student Center into a state-of-the-art hub of student life on campus in alignment with the Gateway to a Distinctive Kent State master plan. The first phase is focused on the second floor “Market” dining space that will move to the Design Innovation Hub (former Art Building) in 2020. The Kent Student Center project includes approximately 13,000 square feet of renovations that will provide new student-centered facilities for student organizations, outreach centers and casual study.
Design work will commence immediately, and construction work is anticipated to begin in May 2020 at the end of the academic year. The Division of Student Affairs has identified $3 million in the Kent Student Center Reserve – Operation and Maintenance of Plant Fund for this project.
Among other Board actions:
- The Board approved the following new degree programs:
- The College of Education, Health and Human Services will establish the Long-Term Care Administration major within the Bachelor of Science degree, effective fall 2020, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
- The College of Education, Health and Human Services will establish the Sports Medicine major within the Bachelor of Science degree, effective fall 2020, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education
- The Board approved the following name revision:
- The Technology major within the Master of Technology degree in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering will be changed to the Engineering Technology major within the Master of Engineering Technology degree, effective fall 2020, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
- The Board approved the following inactivations:
- The College of Applied and Technical Studies and Kent State Tuscarawas will inactivate the Engineering of Information Technology major within the Associate of Applied Science degree, effective fall 2019.
- The College of Arts and Sciences will inactivate the American Studies major within the Bachelor of Arts degree, effective fall 2019.
- The Board approved window replacement and exterior brick restoration of Beall and McDowell residence halls. Built in 1966, the two eight-story buildings house 500 undergraduate students in semi-suite rooms. The project includes more than 1,200 new energy-efficient windows, six main door entry replacements and exterior brick restoration. The new windows will improve the general temperature comfort for students residing in the halls and will provide an updated aesthetic to the buildings. The project will utilize $4.5 million in Residence Services facility renewal and replacement funding and will occur during the summer recesses of 2021 and 2022.
- The Board approved additional funding for the McGilvrey Hall elevator addition project. Originally approved by the Board at its meeting on Sept. 12, 2018, at a cost of $1.4 million, an additional $85,000 is required for upgraded safety features. The Board revised and approved the overall budget for this project not to exceed $1,485,000, and is expected to be completed in January 2020
- The Board authorized the sale of a real estate parcel that generated significant buyer interest from previously approved marketing efforts. The university was authorized to enter into contract for 43 acres located on state Route 43 in Brimfield Township with an offer of $950,000, which is the appraised value.
- The Board elected the following officers for 2019-2020: Ralph Della Ratta, chair; Shawn Riley, vice chair; and Virginia Addicott, secretary.
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Kent State University students gather on Risman Plaza for Blastoff 2019, the university’s annual back-to-school celebration that takes place the day before fall classes begin. For fall 2019, the university celebrates its largest honors class in history and welcomes a freshman class with strong GPA and ACT scores.