Kent State Board of Trustees Approves Establishing University Operations in Rwanda, Africa

The Kent State University Board of Trustees approved the establishment and registration of a Community Benefit Company in Rwanda, Africa, during the Board’s regular quarterly meeting held May 25 at the Berkshire Local Schools in Burton, Ohio, which is located on the campus of Kent State University at Geauga. Kent State has realized an immediate need to establish a private limited company, designated as a not-for-profit Community Benefit Company, that can serve as a strategic starting point for engaging in the African continent’s expanding higher education market.

According to the Institute of International Education, nearly 40,000 students from sub-Saharan African countries studied in the United States in academic year 2020-2021. An additional 6,000 students from North Africa studied in the U.S. last academic year. The United Nations predicts that Africa will be the fastest-growing continent by 2050, containing more than half of the world’s population growth and doubling in population.

It is recommended that Rwanda serve as a home base for Kent State’s operations in Africa. The University of Rwanda has proposed offering Kent State office space for this purpose. This move will allow Kent State to open an office in Kigali, Rwanda, and to conduct various activities while remaining compliant with local laws. This action would provide Kent State with a competitive advantage in terms of recruitment and promotion of the arts, sciences and education, and advancement of knowledge and academic partnerships.

The Community Benefit Company would be administered through the Office of the Provost. The mission of the office includes introducing Kent State to the education markets in Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana and neighboring countries; carrying out the recruitment plan in identified areas; identifying high-quality education agencies already in existence that represent respected international partners; establishing, maintaining and improving working relationships with recruiting agencies and partner universities; and providing support for education-abroad programs and visiting university dignitaries. 

The associate vice president for global education will have oversight responsibilities for the Community Benefit Company. Kent State has exhibited similar success through its use of a legal presence in Florence, Italy; Geneva, Switzerland; and New Delhi, India. Earlier this year, Kent State was the sole university in the U.S. to receive the prestigious 2022 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization from NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The honor recognizes Kent State for overall excellence in integrating international education throughout all facets of the university and its campuses.

Board Approves Updated Complete College Ohio Campus Completion Plan

Trustees approved the updated Kent State Complete College Ohio Campus Completion Plan as part of a state and institutional commitment to increasing the number of college degrees awarded in Ohio.

Kent State remains committed to improving student success while keeping true to its mission of providing accessible education for the citizens of Ohio and beyond. As required every two years, the university has updated its completion plan and has received approval from the Board to submit the updated plan to the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

The university’s 2022 Campus Completion Plan provides an update on the progress made toward goals established in 2014 (including related completion strategies) and identifies the university’s goals to increase retention and persistence over the next two years. New completion goals align with Kent State’s A Strategic Roadmap for a Distinctive Kent State.

Since 2014, Kent State has made significant progress toward these goals, including:

  • The retention rate on the Kent Campus increased to 80%, up from the 77.6% benchmark noted in the initial Campus Completion Plan.
  • The six-year graduation rate for all first-time, full-time students on the Kent Campus reached a record high of 67.5%.
  • The percentage of racially diverse students in the fall 2021 cohort increased to a record 17.8%.

Board Approves Extending Lease Agreement for Kent State’s New York City Fashion Program

The Board approved extension agreements for two commercial studio spaces Kent State has leased in New York City’s Garment District since 2005 as a destination for the study-away program serving its nationally and internationally ranked School of Fashion. 

During the last academic year, 124 students in Kent State’s School of Fashion took classes in these studios, which are located at 315 W. 39th St.

The agreements, which run through 2027, take advantage of a preferential rent offer based on the extended term. As part of the extended lease offer, the property manager for the premises is waiving any rent increase for the 2022-2023 lease year and deferring rent from both leases for two months during the term.

Board Sets Fall Tuition, Room and Meal Plan Rates

Under Tuition Guarantee Model

Kent State’s Tuition Guarantee, adopted by the Board beginning with the fall 2018 cohort, ensures that tuition, room and meal plan rates for current students do not increase for the ensuing four academic years from their first enrollment as degree-seeking students. The Tuition Guarantee provides students and their families with a predictable and stable model when planning for the cost of a college degree. Because of Kent State’s Tuition Guarantee, more than 80% of the university’s current undergraduates will not see an increase in tuition, room or meal plan rates.
 
The Board approved tuition, room and meal plan rates under the Tuition Guarantee Model for the cohort entering fall 2022. Tuition for the new fall 2022 cohort at the Kent Campus will be $6,152.20 per semester, which is frozen for four years and which reflects a one-time increase of $270.50 that translates to an average increase of 1.15% per year compared to the more than 8% inflation that today’s families are facing. The double room rate will be $3,890 per semester (an increase of $40), and the most popular Blue meal plan will be $2,448 per semester (an increase of $92). These costs will also be frozen for this cohort for four years. The new rates do not exceed those authorized by Amended Substitute House Bill 110 of the 134th Ohio General Assembly.

Undergraduate students at Kent State who are continuing their studies under the Tuition Guarantee Model will see no increase to their tuition, room and meal plan cost.

Not Under Tuition Guarantee Model

The Board also approved tuition and fees for students not covered under the Tuition Guarantee Model, effective fall 2022. The increases are needed to provide additional resources to preserve academic program quality and services to students as well as to provide additional resources for student financial aid. Undergraduates who have been enrolled five or more years will see tuition increase by $102.10 per semester. The Kent Campus annualized full-time undergraduate tuition is seventh of the 13 Ohio public universities. This lower tuition rate and continued investments made in institutional financial aid reflect the university’s ongoing commitment to affordability.

Non-Ohio residents are assessed a surcharge in addition to tuition. The Board approved an increase of $115.40 per semester in the undergraduate full-time rate, effective for fall 2022. A portion of the increase will be used to fund the increasing need-based scholarship program.

To continue to offer quality academic programming and research opportunities, additional investments are needed in graduate programs. The Board approved increases in graduate tuition (2.6%) and the non-Ohio resident surcharge (2.6%). The impact of these increases is $13.90 per credit hour for graduate tuition and $12 per credit hour in the non-Ohio resident surcharge.

Board Approves New University Budget for Fiscal Year 2023

The Board approved a $661.3 million balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2023. The new budget recognizes the importance of affordability and encouraging student success. It addresses critical commitments and strategic investments and reflects the keen emphasis the Board and the university community have placed on effectiveness, efficiency and resource optimization. The balanced university budget is the result of dedicated leadership and strategic focus by all of Kent State’s stakeholders.

The budget is based on key revenue assumptions that include:

  • State Share of Instruction (SSI) is projected at $161.1 million, an increase of $1 million from the prior year’s budget.
  • Tuition and fee revenue is projected at $385.5 million, which is $4.4 million more than the approved Fiscal Year 2022 budget and is the product of a conservative enrollment projection and the approved tuition and fee rates.
  • Due to the return of on-campus classes and activities, auxiliary enterprises will return to more normal operations, resulting in $8.6 million more in auxiliary revenues.
  • Investment income of $12 million is dedicated to the current funds, unrestricted budget.
  • All other major revenue categories are projected to increase by $0.4 million, in the aggregate.

The budget is also based on key expense assumptions that include:

  • The university will continue to dedicate significant resources to fund financial aid, with particular focus on students with the greatest financial need.
  • The university’s budget for employee compensation includes increases in accordance with collective bargaining agreements as well as a 2% salary pool for nonrepresented employees.
  • Healthcare benefits expense is expected to increase by 5.8% due to the cost of inflation being offset by cost savings from implementing a new program for specialty pharmacy drugs, effective July 1, 2022.
  • The cost of utilities, including electricity and natural gas, is projected to increase by about $2 million due to current market rates.

Among other Board actions: 

  • The Board approved revisions to the university’s strategic plan, titled Flashes Together: Our Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State. The “refresh” of the highly successful strategic plan for Kent State was recommended by President Todd Diacon and a 20-member Strategic Roadmap Advisory Committee, who together conducted an inclusive review process since November 2021. In the collaborative spirit of the 2015 process that led to the original version of the Strategic Roadmap, the committee sought input through an online survey and open forums – both in person and online – across all Kent State campuses and the College of Podiatric Medicine. Board members heard that more than 950 responses to the online survey were received and more than 1,100 students, faculty and staff participated in open forums. Kent State will finalize the strategic plan and provide more information later this summer. 
  • The Board passed resolutions of appreciation to David Dees, Ph.D.; Pamela Grimm, Ph.D.; Susan Stocker, Ph.D.; Kathryn Wilson, Ph.D.; and F. Jack Witt, J.D. 

A Kent State employee since 1991, Dees has served since June 2017 as dean and chief administrative officer of the Kent State Columbiana County campuses (East Liverpool and Salem). He created the life-changing Rural Scholars Program at the Salem Campus in 2011, which has been extended to all Regional Campuses as the Rising Scholars Program. Dees has announced his intention to return to the university faculty on July 1, 2022.

Grimm joined Kent State in 1992 and has most recently served as professor in the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship and chair of Faculty Senate, leading faculty governance in a collaborative and steady manner through a time of great opportunities and challenges. She has been a tireless leader in the university’s COVID-19 pandemic response. Grimm has announced her retirement, effective June 30, 2022.

A Kent State employee since 1990, Stocker has served the past 21 years as dean and chief administrative officer of Kent State University at Ashtabula. She has helped the campus in achieving significant milestones, including raising $6 million toward the construction of the $15 million state-of-the-art Robert S. Morrison Hall and creating new degree programs to meet regional needs. Stocker has announced she will retire June 30, 2022.

Wilson, professor and chair of the Department of Economics, has served as Kent State’s Faculty Athletics Representative for the past 18 years. She has provided insightful and inspired leadership for comprehensive gender equity self-studies in athletics, which produced significant improvements in women’s athletic facilities, scholarship, coach and administrator compensation, and more. Wilson will conclude her service as Faculty Athletics Representative on June 30, 2022.

Witt joined Kent State in 2016 as vice president for human resources. He has provided dedicated leadership to the Division of Human Resources and has led the division capably throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which presented unprecedented and constant challenges regarding human resources policies, programs, protocols and resources needed to protect the health, safety and well-being of the faculty, staff and students. Witt will retire June 30, 2022.

  • The Board approved the naming of the Donald S. Grant Donor Recognition Lounge in the future Crawford Hall, the new home of the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship. The naming action recognizes the generosity of Donald S. Grant, who graduated from Kent State in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, in providing gifts totaling $150,000 to benefit the students and faculty of the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship.
  • The Board approved the Memorandums of Understanding between the university and the Tenured/Tenure-Track Unit of the American Association of University Professors, Kent State Chapter and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Ohio Council 8, Local 153, AFL-CIO regarding implementation of the PrudentRx program. The university and leadership of the institution’s collective bargaining units met on several occasions this year to discuss modifications to existing Collective Bargaining Agreements with respect to pharmacy benefits. The university’s current pharmacy benefits provider CVS/Caremark has a contract with PrudentRx. By opting into the PrudentRx program, the estimated annual net savings are nearly $1 million. Under the program, those healthcare plan members utilizing specialty medications will see their copays for these prescriptions reduced to zero. The university will begin planning the rollout of this program effective July 1, 2022.
  • The Board approved the authorization for the issuance of general receipts bonds to refinance outstanding general receipts bonds and to pay costs of university facilities. Kent State worked with PFM, the university’s financial advisor, on a comprehensive review of all current outstanding debt under the following objective: to strategically level out the university’s debt service payments. Based on this review, two bond series have been targeted for restructure: a portion of the 2020Bs with outstanding principal of $40 million and Portage County Port Authority with outstanding principal of $10 million. The university plans on pricing the second week of June with a planned closing the last week of June, assuming favorable market conditions in alignment with the restructuring objectives. 
  • The Board approved utilizing $2 million in University Culinary Services renewal and replacement funds to replace the roof of the Eastway Center. The Eastway complex, which includes Manchester, Fletcher, Clark and Allyn halls, was built in 1963. The dining hall within Eastway Center received an extensive renovation in 2018 but the project did not address the roof. The project includes a complete roof tear-off down to the structural deck and installation of a new roofing system with additional insulation to improve energy efficiency. The work is scheduled for summer 2023.
  • The Board approved an estimated $2.825 million in renewal and replacement funds needed to complete routine roadway and parking resurfacing maintenance at Kent State University at Stark. At just under one mile in length, the southern half of Loop Road on the Stark Campus requires resurfacing and partial full-depth repairs. As part of the Loop Road resurfacing project, improvements will be made to two critical pedestrian crosswalks to calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety. In addition, eight campus surface parking lots will be resurfaced with minor repairs to stormwater structures and drainage systems. The project will be completed during summer and early fall 2022.
  • The Board approved an amendment to the approval of the Rockwell Hall addition and renovations. At its Dec. 4, 2019, meeting, the Board approved the project with a budget of $7.3 million. With unprecedented instabilities in the construction market and building commodities that have resulted in historic inflation rates and other rising costs, the Board approved the amended project budget of $7.9 million, with $500,000 coming from the university local funds and $100,000 from the School of Fashion.
  • The Board approved vendor selections for the following:
    • The Standard Service Offer was selected from FirstEnergy/Ohio Edison and FirstEnergy/The Illuminating Company at $0.06757 per kilowatt-hour and AEP/Ohio Power at $0.065 per kilowatt-hour for the Kent Campus ancillary accounts and Regional Campus accounts, a total of approximately 88 accounts, and MidAmerican Energy Services LLC will provide electric supply service at a rate of $0.06934 per kilowatt-hour for the one large Kent Campus account. The total cost of the agreement will be funded by University Facilities Management, Energy Operations.
    • Fahlgren Mortine will provide media services for an initial contract term of three years with two one-year renewals at a blended cost structure of 7.5% commission and agency fee of $165 per hour. The total projected annual spend will be between $2 million and $3 million, of which commissions and agency fee will represent between $225,000 and $325,000 based upon actual advertising spend, with the Division of University Communications and Marketing and the respective college/department budgets funding the expenses.
    • Solar Turbine Inc. will provide control replacements and upgrades to GT1 and GT2 combustion turbines in the Summit Street Power Plant at an estimated cost of $1.8 million, to be funded by the facilities and energy management budgets.
    • The CBORD Group Inc. will provide a multicampus ID card transaction management system for four years at an estimated cost of $658,699.78 plus a university option to renew up to four additional one-year periods at approximately $162,250 each to be funded by University Housing, University Culinary Services and FLASHcard Operations.
    • The Sanson Company will provide fresh produce items for University Culinary Services for an initial one-year term at an estimated cost of $400,000 with the potential of four additional one-year periods at approximately $400,000 each to be funded by University Culinary Services.
    • York Street Fresh Foods LLC will provide prepared food – fresh grab-and-go items for resale in various campus dining locations for an initial one-year term at an estimated cost of $350,000 with the potential for four additional one-year periods at approximately $350,000 each to be funded by University Culinary Services.
    • New Daily Opco LLC, doing business as Borden Dairy, will provide fresh dairy products for University Culinary Services for an initial one-year term at an estimated cost of $200,000 with the potential of four additional one-year periods at approximately $200,000 each to be funded by University Culinary Services.
  • The Board elected the following officers for 2022-2023: Shawn Riley, chair; Robert Frost, vice chair; and Stephen Perry, secretary.
  • In a routine action required by the Kent State Constitution, the Board formally approved the annual election of President Todd A. Diacon, effective July 1, 2022.

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Media Contacts:
Eric Mansfield, emansfie@kent.edu, 330-672-2797
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Wednesday, May 25, 2022 - 3:31pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - 10:29am
WRITTEN BY:
University Communications and Marketing