Kent State Board of Trustees Approves Memorandum of Understanding and Project Authorization for East Main Street Improvements

Kent State University, the city of Kent and the Portage Area Regional Transit Authority (PARTA) jointly have committed to the economic development of retail/entertainment areas serving students, employees and guests of the university and the city. Together, they have committed to work toward a successful design solution to alleviate traffic congestion and safety concerns along East Main Street from Willow Street to Horning Road.

At its March 4 meeting, the Kent State Board of Trustees approved the memorandum of understanding between the three partners for the redevelopment project to transform East Main Street. The project will be developed in alignment with Phase I of the university’s 2018 Gateway to a Distinctive Kent State master plan.

Kent State has been working with the city of Kent and PARTA as partners to create a more vibrant city/campus environment for the university family and the Kent community. Specifically, the partnership provides for the pursuit of federal funding to improve the roadway, signals, pedestrian/bicycle facilities and mass-transit infrastructure.

After the initial study phase was completed, the city of Kent was awarded the majority of the necessary funds toward an approximately $20 million project. Similar to the Summit Street improvement project, the university and the city would share the costs. The university will contribute $2.2 million over seven years for the completion of the project using university facility renewal and replacement funds.

Board Recognizes Vice President Alfreda Brown

The Board expressed deep gratitude to Alfreda Brown, Kent State’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, for her contributions to the education of students and the advancement of Kent State. Brown joined Kent State in 2009 as its inaugural vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. She has announced her intention to retire on May 31, 2020.

Brown has provided groundbreaking leadership of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion since its inception and invaluable counsel to three presidents of the university, leading institutional efforts to increase diverse representation, create and sustain equity of opportunity, and intentionally foster an inclusive environment across all Kent State campuses.

Motivated by her passion for the success of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of life and for all people, Brown has led the division in building and supporting diversity initiatives throughout the university; recruiting and supporting faculty, staff and students from diverse populations; establishing a five-year diversity scorecard to improve overall institutional effectiveness of diversity and inclusion strategies; collaborating with others in the implementation of a universitywide climate study and other initiatives to create a more inclusive community; and expanding cultural competency and other training.

In recognition of her distinguished service to Kent State and her 31-year career as a leader for diversity issues, Brown received the university’s 2020 Diversity Trailblazer Award, and the annual award was named in her honor for perpetuity.

Board Approves Parking Upgrades to Kent Campus

The future of parking on the university’s Kent Campus involves more technology and more available spots, meeting the needs of students, staff, faculty and all who visit campus.

Approved by the Board, the university is taking steps to provide additional parking services and upgrades while implementing modest fee increases – the first in 11 years – to support Kent State Parking Services’ goal of providing accessible parking options across the entire Kent Campus, effective fall 2020. University leaders are consistently reviewing parking needs and seeking the best options that support all who drive to and from the Kent Campus.

On the horizon is a new app via Passport that will create opportunities for students, staff and faculty to use their smartphone to pay by the hour for spaces in select parking lots. This would allow drivers to park closer to their destination during times of the day when those spots become available.

Additional parking is also coming to key spots around campus, including 1,100 much-needed, mostly covered parking spots in the university’s first parking deck at East Main Street and Midway. The university expects to break ground on the deck shortly after May’s commencement ceremonies and to open the deck for fall 2021 classes.

This is the first parking fee increase since 2009, which is modest and provides parking rates below other area universities.

The typical full-time undergraduate student will see fall 2020 permit prices increase to $112.50, up from $100. By comparison, a similar student at the nearby University of Akron pays $175 per semester for campus parking via their transportation fee. Ohio University students pay $150, and Miami University students pay $125.

Faculty and staff members will see rates raised $0.76 per month to $13.50 per month. For 12-month employees, the increase is less than $10 per year.

Board Meets University’s New President’s Ambassador

The Board met Kent State alumna Patricia Ackerman, Ph.D., who is serving as Kent State’s 2020 President’s Ambassador. The Kent State President’s Ambassadorship is a one-year appointment that brings distinguished professionals to share their knowledge and experience with the university community.

Ackerman is the executive director of Chalkdust Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers enrichment opportunities, training programs and related resources to students, parents, education professionals and faith leaders in urban communities. She is also a retired public school educator who served as a teacher, principal and K-12 curriculum administrator. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Ohio University, a Master of Education degree in educational administration from Cleveland State University and a Ph.D. in educational administration from Kent State.

Ackerman is the founder and managing director of IndeedWeCode, a computer coding program for African American girls in Northeast Ohio established in 2015. She is a past president of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE).

Board Sets Room and Board Rates

The Board passed a resolution setting room and board rates for the fall 2020 tuition guarantee cohort and students not already on a tuition guarantee. Increasing costs of operations and reinvestment in facilities necessitate fee adjustments to preserve and improve residence hall offerings and board plans.

The double-room rate will increase by 2.99%, which is an increase of $109 per semester compared to the previous year. The basic board plan rate will increase 3.62%, which is an increase of $80 per semester compared to the previous year. The blended increase for both room and board is 3.24%.

Kent State operates its residence halls and dining program on a self-sufficient basis, with the goal of providing high-quality, competitive accommodations and dining services at an affordable price. The leadership of the dining and housing programs have been diligent to ensure affordable room and board rates ranked in the middle of residential universities in Ohio.

Among other Board actions:

  • The Board approved the conferral of the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, upon Earl K. Miller, Ph.D., for his preeminent contributions to the field of neuroscience and for his inspiring example to all Golden Flashes everywhere, and wished him continued success. Miller is a Kent State alumnus who grew up in Lyndhurst, Ohio, and is a world-renowned neuroscientist who has made pioneering contributions to our understanding of how the brain accomplishes complex cognition, laying the foundation for understanding dysfunctions of the brain such as those that occur in autism, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder. Miller is the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 2017, Miller and his wife, Marlene M. Wicherski, pledged $2 million to fund three scholarships and a professorship in Kent State’s College of Arts and Science.
  • The Board approved the revision in name of the School of Digital Sciences to the School of Emerging Media and Technology within the College of Communication and Information, effective July 1, 2020. The new name more accurately reflects the school’s revised curriculum and allows the school to align with national trends and adapt to new developments in the field.
  • The Board approved the establishment of the Center for Research and Innovation in Translation and Translation Technology within the College of Arts and Sciences, effective fall 2020. The multidisciplinary center will draw faculty and students from the departments of Computer Science, Psychological Sciences, and Modern and Classical Language Studies with the purpose of supporting opportunities for interdisciplinary scholarship and research.

The center, originally established at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark and then brought to Kent State in 2018, has gathered the largest behavioral database in the world of language processing. The center’s purpose is to collect, annotate, visualize and analyze data bringing together faculty and graduate students who are interested in researching how language is processed in humans and machines from a computational, psychological and sociality point of view.

  • The Board approved the following new degree programs:
    • The College of the Arts will establish the Acting for the Returning Professional major within the Master of Fine Arts degree, effective fall 2020, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
    • The College of Aeronautics and Engineering will establish the Aerospace Engineering major within the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, effective fall 2020, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission.
    • The College of Aeronautics and Engineering will establish the Cybersecurity Engineering major within the Bachelor of Science degree, effective fall 2020, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
    • The College of Arts and Sciences will establish the Data Science major within the Bachelor of Science degree, effective fall 2020, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission.
    • The College of the Arts will establish the Theatre Design and Technology major within the Master of Fine Arts degree, effective fall 2020, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
  • The Board approved the following name revisions:
    • The Chemical Physics major in the College of Arts and Sciences will be changed to the Materials Science major within the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, effective fall 2020.
    • The Computer Design, Animation and Game Design major in the College of Applied and Technical Studies will be changed to the Technical Modeling Design major within the Associate of Applied Science degree, effective fall 2020.
    • The Digital Sciences major in the College of Communication and Information will be changed to the Emerging Media and Technology major within the Bachelor of Science degree, effective fall 2020.
    • The German Literature, Culture and Translation major in the College of Arts and Sciences will be changed to the German major within the Bachelor of Arts degree, effective fall 2020.
    • The Global Studies major in the College of Arts and Sciences will be changed to the International Relations major within the Bachelor of Arts degree, effective fall 2020.
    • The Modeling, Animation and Game Creation major in the College of Applied and Technical Studies will be changed to the Animation Game Design major within the Bachelor of Science degree, effective fall 2020.
    • The Physical Education major in the College of Education, Health and Human Services will be changed to the Physical Education and Sport Performance major within the Bachelor of Science, effective fall 2020.
    • The Rehabilitation Counseling major in the College of Education, Health and Human Services will be changed to the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling major within the Master of Education degree, effective fall 2020.
    • The Sport and Recreation Management major in the College of Education, Health and Human Services will be changed to the Sport Administration major within the Master of Arts degree, effective fall 2020.
  • The Board approved the following inactivation:
    • The College of the Arts will inactivate the Theatre Studies major within the Master of Fine Arts degree, effective fall 2020.
  • The Board approved tuition and fees for the College of Podiatric Medicine for the 2020-2021 academic year. The Board approved a 3% increase in tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students. It is anticipated that this increase will not change the college’s tuition ranking relative to other podiatric medicine colleges in the nation. In the current and prior academic years, tuition for Kent State’s College of Podiatric Medicine is fourth of the nine institutions when ranking from highest to lowest tuition.

Kent State’s College of Podiatric Medicine operates under a different academic calendar than the rest of the university, as third-year and fourth-year students begin their new academic year in May. Approval of the college’s tuition and fees for the next academic year takes place at this time so that billing can occur prior to the beginning of the semester. The university currently receives no state share of instruction (SSI) for podiatric medicine, and statutory constraints by the state of Ohio are tied to in-state undergraduate tuition and general fees.

  • The Board named the Marty Erbaugh I3 Lab within the Design Innovation Hub in honor of James Martin Erbaugh, who was also known as Marty. Wishing to honor the memory of Erbaugh through a philanthropic naming, the trustees of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation have approved a grant of $250,000 supporting the development and designation of an area special to Erbaugh.

Erbaugh was the owner of the private investment firm JM Erbaugh Co. based in Hudson, Ohio. He served as a trustee of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation from 1990 until his death in May 2019. Between 2009 and 2013, Erbaugh worked as the entrepreneur-in-residence for Kent State’s College of Business Administration. At Kent State, he worked to provide entrepreneurial opportunities to students by serving on the LaunchNET Advisory Board. He was also a member of Kent State’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation Advisory Board. The Design Innovation Hub is expected to be completed and open for fall 2020.

  • The Board passed a resolution of appreciation to Jo Ann Gustafson, expressing its deep gratitude to Gustafson for her leadership of the Office of Internal Audit and for her many contributions to the sound and effective operational performance of Kent State. Gustafson joined Kent State as director of internal audit in December 2008. In this role, she contributed significantly to the continuous improvement of colleges, campuses, divisions, departments and other units. Gustafson has served as the chief audit officer for Kent State, the University of Akron and Cleveland State University for a combined total of 30 years. She will retire from Kent State on March 31, 2020.
  • The Board approved heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) replacement and student room improvements for Verder Hall. Verder Hall was constructed in 1957 and is one of the oldest residence halls on the Kent Campus. The project will replace the existing heating-only system with a new HVAC system, address the abatement of asbestos-containing materials, and extend and utilize the existing chilled water resources on campus. The project also will replace and upgrade the existing floor finishes and room furnishings. Kent State’s Department of Residence Services has set aside $7 million for the project. The university will immediately initiate the design phase of the work, and the work within Verder Hall will be completed during summer 2021.

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

POSTED: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 4:09pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 4:23pm
WRITTEN BY:
University Communications and Marketing