Kent State Board of Trustees Establishes Two New Research Institutes
The Kent State University Board of Trustees approved the establishment of two new institutes – the Anti-Racism and Equity Institute and the Environmental Science and Design Research Institute – during the Board’s regular quarterly meeting held March 10. The Anti-Racism and Equity Institute is effective fall 2021, and the Environmental Science and Design Research Institute is effective March 10.
The Anti-Racism and Equity Institute
The establishment of the Anti-Racism and Equity Institute aligns with the university’s core values to build an inclusive culture and active inquiry and discovery that expands knowledge and human understanding. The institute will create an important interdisciplinary hub for faculty, students, staff and community members engaged in race and anti-racism scholarship, activism and education. The institute will also elevate Kent State to be an exemplar in race scholarship.
The Anti-Racism and Equity Institute will provide infrastructure support for researchers and opportunities for collaboration across multiple departments, colleges and campuses, with more than 100 faculty and staff and 10 colleges aligned with the institute’s mission. The institute’s activities will include a faculty fellows program, visiting professionals in residence, annual symposia and speaker events, graduate and undergraduate student scholarships and a competitive seed grant program.
The institute’s administrative structure will include a director who will report to the vice president for research and sponsored programs (with a dotted line to the provost). Additionally, an executive committee made up of faculty, staff, students and the vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion will inform and advise the institute leadership on matters of operations and direction. A steering committee comprising members and other relevant stakeholders will inform and help drive policy and structural development. An external advisory board, representing critical external partners, will help drive the operation, work and goals of the institute in relation to the broader community.
The Environmental Science and Design Research Institute
The Environmental Science and Design Research Institute builds upon the exceptional accomplishments over the past four years of the current initiative, bringing together researchers from multiple disciplines, launching pilot funding programs, supporting student research and hosting national symposia, lectures and gallery exhibitions. The institute’s establishment also aligns with the university’s strategic goals to build a culture of research and innovation and increase extramurally funded research.
Kent State has world-class faculty engaged in many areas of research related to understanding and improving the environment. The nearly 60 faculty members who are current members of the Environmental Science and Design Research Initiative represent seven colleges and identify across several common research areas of focus. Centralization through the new Environmental Science and Design Research Institute structure creates opportunities to optimize infrastructure support for researchers and create and enhance collaborative interactions across multiple departments, colleges and campuses.
The institute will be supported by a combination of university funds and external support, including sponsored programs and philanthropy. The administrative structure will include a director or co-directors with faculty rank in the appropriate academic disciplines, who will report to the vice president for research and sponsored programs.
Board Approves New Solar Array Project for Kent Campus
The Board approved a new solar array project for the Kent Campus. The project will conservatively save an average of $250,000 annually and approximately $5 million over the 20-year term of the power purchase agreement.
The ground-mounted solar panels will be installed on 33.5 acres located on the south side of East Summit Street across from the Summit East parking lot near state Route 261. In addition to electric cost savings, the installation is expected to create 8.5 million kilowatt-hours annually, reducing the Kent Campus carbon footprint by 6,625 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) annually, equal to the annual emissions of 1,298 passenger vehicles. The project will be used to enhance community engagement, support K-12 and university academic programs, improve local air quality and environmental assets, and educate about renewable energy installations.
The Board approved entering into an agreement with American Electric Power OnSite Partners LLC for the design and construction of a 6-megawatt solar photovoltaic and 3-megawatt battery energy storage system microgrid renewable energy installation at the Kent Campus. American Electric Power OnSite Partners will be responsible for all costs of installation and maintenance for the solar photovoltaics and battery storage assets for the duration of the power purchase agreement. The project is expected to be completed in 2022.
Among other Board actions:
- The Board passed a resolution of appreciation to the Rev. Dr. Todd C. Davidson. Appointed to the Board on June 13, 2018, Davidson gave dedicated and insightful service to the Board as a member of the External Relations and Development Committee (2018-2020) and as a member (2018-2020) and chair (2019-2020) of the Academic Excellence and Student Success Committee. He contributed to the history of the university as a member of the Presidential Search Committee that recommended Diacon as Kent State’s 13th president. Davidson has demonstrated his devotion to helping all students reach their full potential as a longtime school board member in his native Virginia and in Northeast Ohio. The Board expressed its deep appreciation to Davidson and wished him well on his relocation to Chesapeake, Virginia, to become senior pastor of the Hampton Roads Baptist Church.
- The Board confirmed the conferral of a total of 2,600 degrees for fall 2020 on those Kent State students who have been officially recorded by the University Registrar as having completed the requirements of their respective programs of study during the period of Aug. 15, 2020, to Dec. 19, 2020.
- The Board approved the following new degree programs:
- The College of Aeronautics and Engineering will establish the Mechatronics Engineering major within the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, effective fall 2021, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission.
- The College of Aeronautics and Engineering will establish the Aviation Maintenance Management major within the Bachelor of Science degree, effective fall 2021, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission.
- The College of Business Administration will establish the Business Analytics major within the Bachelor of Business Administration degree, effective fall 2021, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
- The Board approved the following name revisions:
- The Pan-African Studies major in the College of Arts and Sciences will be changed to the Africana Studies major within the Bachelor of Arts degree, effective fall 2021.
- The Acting for the Returning Professional major in the College of the Arts will be changed to the Acting – Intended for the Returning Professional major within the Master of Fine Arts degree, effective fall 2021.
- The Hospitality Management major in the College of Education, Health and Human Services will be changed to the Hospitality and Event Management major within the Bachelor of Science degree, effective fall 2021.
- The Journalism and Mass Communication major in the College of Communication and Information will be changed to the Media and Journalism major within the Master of Arts degree, effective fall 2021.
- The Board approved the following inactivation:
- The College of Arts and Sciences will inactivate the Clinical Psychology major within the Master of Arts degree, effective fall 2021. The College of Arts and Sciences suspended admission to the Clinical Psychology major in 2016 due to students earning their Master of Arts degree in Psychological Sciences instead. No students have been in the Clinical Psychology major since fall 2018.
- The Board endorsed the 2020 University Remediation Report and its submission to the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, in accordance with House Bill 49. Results indicated a 3.4% decline in the number of Kent Campus students enrolled in remedial coursework compared with last year and a decline of 9.6% on the Regional Campuses. Combined over the last three years of reporting, Kent State has seen a drop of 21.8% on the Kent Campus and a 30.8% drop on the Regional Campuses.
- The Board approved tuition and fees for the College of Podiatric Medicine for the 2021-2022 academic year. The Board approved a 2% 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 authorized changes in a variety of special tuition rates, program, course and other student fees, including eliminating about 70 fees. University staff, including executive officers, extensively reviewed the fee changes for fall 2021 to ensure that all are in the appropriate amounts and are necessary to protect program quality.
- The Board approved heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and safety improvements for White Hall. Constructed in 1966 and home to the College of Education, Health and Human Services, White Hall still operates with much of the original HVAC equipment serving the building. The project will replace numerous pieces of mechanical equipment. It also will address critical life safety improvements, including a new fire suppression system and a new fire alarm system throughout the building. The project will be phased, and a strategic systems replacement plan will be developed and implemented to ensure reliability of indoor environmental conditions and realized energy efficiency. The total cost of the project is $13 million, which is available from the university’s state of Ohio capital appropriations (House Bill 481 and Senate Bill 310). Construction is anticipated to begin summer 2021 and be completed by winter 2022.
- The Board approved a contract with MinuteClinic LLC, a subsidiary of CVS Inc., to provide COVID-19 antigen testing and lab processing services for spring 2021. Students living on campus during spring 2021 are required to test weekly for COVID-19, and testing is also available to students living off campus, faculty and staff. Total expenditures for this initiative will be $6.2 million and will be funded by federal dollars provided through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF).
- The Board authorized the sale of real estate property located on state Route 59 in Franklin Township, Ohio. The 41.77 acres of vacant land had been identified as surplus real estate assets by the university and available for disposition. The university will enter into a purchase agreement for the sale of the property for $1.2 million, an amount equal to the appraised value of the acreage.
- The Board approved the vendor selection for a computerized maintenance management system to replace the university’s current system, which is outdated and the version that Kent State currently is using is no longer supported by the system’s company. The university will enter a contract with AssetWorks LLC, which provided the proposal with the best overall value, for six years plus a university option to renew up to four years. The estimated cost for these goods for the six-year term and four optional one-year extensions is $3,094,277 to be funded by University Facilities Management operating budget resources.
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