Kent State Board of Trustees Welcomes Class of 2025, Approves New Balanced Budget

The Kent State University Board of Trustees congratulated Kent State President Todd Diacon and university leaders on their strong fall enrollment, including welcoming the Class of 2025, at the Board’s regular quarterly meeting held Wednesday, Sept. 15.
 
Kent State’s incoming freshman class is 4% larger than the previous year with 3,981 students boasting an all-time high 3.5 GPA with more than 14% of the class being admitted to the Honors College.
 
Diacon has made supporting first-generation and underrepresented students a priority. Among this year’s freshmen, nearly 1 in 3 are first-generation students and 1 in 6 are underrepresented students. As a class, these students have arrived from 38 states, Puerto Rico and 22 countries.
 
Overall, the Kent Campus enrollment for fall semester is 25,630 students, and enrollment for Kent State’s eight-campus system is 34,761.
 
Board Approves New University Budget for Fiscal Year 2022
 
The Board approved a $646.9 million balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2022. 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 $160.1 million, an increase of $1.5 million from the prior year restated budget.
  • Tuition and fee revenue is projected at $381 million, which is $2.4 million less than the approved Fiscal Year 2021 budget and is the product of a conservative 4% overall reduction in enrollment coupled with a 2.9% increase in tuition for the fall 2021 cohort under the Tuition Guarantee Model. All other tuition rates (in-state undergraduates not included in the tuition guarantee, graduate tuition and non-resident surcharges) remain at the same level as the prior year.
  • Due to the return of on-campus classes and activities, auxiliary enterprises will return to more normal operations, resulting in $31.8 million more in auxiliary revenues compared to last year.
  • Investment income support for operating activities is budgeted at $12 million.
  • All other major revenue categories are projected to decline by approximately $2.1 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 non-represented employees.
  • A healthcare benefits expense is expected to remain consistent due to the cost of inflation being offset by fewer employees included in the healthcare plans.

 Board Welcomes Four New Members
 
The Board welcomed four new trustees to serve the university: Johnathan Holifield, Haley Crews, Barry Fetterman and Sandra Volpe.
 
Holifield and Crews were recently appointed by Gov. Mike DeWine. Holifield’s appointment fills the unexpired term of the Rev. Dr. Todd Davidson, which ends May 16, 2027. Holifield currently serves as the senior vice president for new economies at Bitwise Industries, leading the venture-backed, tech training company’s expansion into underestimated cities across the U.S. Crews was appointed to a two-year term as a graduate student trustee, succeeding Jasmine (Hoff) Bonder, whose term as a graduate student trustee recently expired. Crews is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in sociology at Kent State.
 
During the Sept. 15 meeting, the Board elected two new National Trustees. The Board appointed Barry Fetterman and Sandra Volpe as National Trustees, who will both serve a three-year term, effective immediately. Fetterman and Volpe are only the third and fourth persons to hold this nonvoting trustee role. Fetterman is a retired principal/portfolio manager with Sirach Capital Management Inc. Volpe serves as senior vice president of strategic planning, communications and business development solutions at FedEx Ground. To date, all of the National Trustees have been Kent State alumni.
 
The Board is the governing body of Kent State, responsible for selecting and appointing the president; setting the operating budget; approving personnel appointments; granting all degrees awarded by the university, including honorary degrees; establishing tuition and fee rates; approving contracts; and approving university policies, new programs and degrees.
 
Kent State’s Board of Trustees consists of 13 members, nine of whom are voting members appointed by the governor of the state of Ohio, with the advice and consent of the state Senate, to nine-year terms of office. Two student trustees, one undergraduate and one graduate, are appointed by the governor to two-year terms of office. The Board currently has two National Trustees, who serve a three-year term, as additional nonvoting members appointed by the Board of Trustees.
 
Board Approves Significant Namings in Recognition of Generous Gifts
 
The Board approved the clinical space of the Cleveland Foot and Ankle Clinic of Kent State’s College of Podiatric Medicine be named The Podiatry Foundation Foot and Ankle Clinic in honor of The Podiatry Foundation. The OCPM Foundation (doing business as The Podiatry Foundation) is the successor entity to the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, which was acquired by Kent State in 2012. The foundation recently approved a lump-sum gift of $5 million to benefit the students and faculty of Kent State’s College of Podiatric Medicine, which the university recognizes through this naming action. In addition, the foundation has pledged $250,000 annually for the next 20 years to support Kent State’s College of Podiatric Medicine.
 
The Board approved the naming of the Harrick Garden Room of Kent State University Libraries on the Kent Campus in honor of Rosemary and Richard Harrick. Rosemary Harrick served as a librarian and staff member of University Libraries for more than 40 years. She helped plan and coordinate the furnishings of the new University Libraries building in preparation for its grand opening in 1970, after which she served for more than 30 years as head of reference and government documents. Richard Harrick established an unrestricted trust to the benefit of University Libraries that resulted in an outright gift of $375,000.
 
Board Gives Approval for Kent State to Enter Into an Agreement for Management and Operations of WKSU Stations
 
The Board gave approval for the university to enter into a public service operating agreement with Ideastream Public Media for the management and operations of the WKSU stations. Under the agreement, Kent State would continue to be the license holder of WKSU and its sister stations and Ideastream Public Media will provide operating oversight of the stations.
 
Ideastream Public Media would operate the WKSU stations as the group’s only public news and information service and the call letters would remain WKSU. WCPN, Ideastream Public Media’s current news and information station, would change formats. All WKSU employees would receive an offer of employment of similar responsibility and compensation from Ideastream Public Media, and the Kent State president would have a voting seat on the Ideastream Public Media Board of Trustees.

The results of an analysis conducted with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting reinforced the benefits of WKSU and Ideastream Public Media leveraging resources and expertise for the growth and expansion of public media service in Northeast Ohio. Kent State and Ideastream Public Media are committed to continuing and enhancing quality public radio and award-winning news coverage throughout Northeast Ohio.
 
Discussions to finalize the agreement will continue.
 
Board Approves Memorandum of Understanding Between University and AFSCME With Wage Increase
 
The Board approved the memorandum of understanding between Kent State and Kent State University Employees Local 153, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) dated Aug. 20, 2021. The collective bargaining agreement between the university and AFSCME has a term of Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2022.
 
The parties have negotiated certain modified provisions to the labor agreement, specifically concerning wages, and the parties have agreed to all relevant terms regarding such provisions and included these in a Memorandum of Understanding. The previously agreed-to wage increase of 1.5% will be increased to 2%. This allows for all university faculty and staff to receive the same wage increase this fiscal year.
 
AFSCME represents approximately 400 employees in a bargaining unit covering positions of food service worker, custodian, maintenance worker, skilled trades and similar classifications.
 
Board Commends President Diacon in Annual Review, Amends Employment Contract
 
Board members praised Kent State President Todd Diacon for his outstanding, steady leadership in a time of great challenge and uncertainty, expressing the sentiment that Diacon has been the right leader at the right time for Kent State. This is Diacon’s second review as university president. He began serving as Kent State’s 13th president on July 1, 2019.
 
In reviewing Diacon’s 2020-2021 goals and accomplishments, the Board recognized Kent State’s progress in student retention and graduation, academic programs, research, institutional partnerships, stewardship of organizational resources and protecting the campus community’s health, safety and well-being during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The Board has determined that Diacon has earned the full amount of the annual performance incentive in his employment agreement effective April 29, 2019. In addition, the Board has amended Diacon’s employment contract, authorizing a 2% increase in Diacon’s base salary for the 2021-2022 year and appointing him to a three-year term through June 30, 2025, with a two-year option for renewal. 
 
Among other Board actions:

  • The Board confirmed the conferral of a total of 4,936 degrees for spring 2021 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 Dec. 19, 2020, to May 15, 2021.
  • The Board approved the vendor selection for COVID-19 testing and lab processing services. The university requires COVID-19 testing services in accordance with institutional protocols and needs that may continue to evolve throughout the year. The program’s primary objective is to identify COVID-19 cases quickly so that contact tracing can slow down or stop the chain of transmission among students, faculty and staff. In response to a request for proposal, Visit Healthcare and Vault Medical Services provided the proposals with the best overall value. The university will enter contracts with Visit Healthcare and Vault Medical Services for an initial one-year term with an estimated cost of $6,314,000 that will be funded by federal relief dollars provided through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Four additional one-year renewal options will be available at the same per test cost for future testing needs. The actual cost of the agreement will be determined by the number of tests administered.
  • The Board approved the vendor selection to supply and deliver aviation fuel to the Kent State University Airport. The university requires an aviation fuel provider to support its Aeronautics Program as well as for resale to private pilots utilizing the general aviation airport. In response to a request for a proposal, Purvis Brothers Inc. provided the proposal with the best overall value. The university will enter a contract with Purvis Brothers Inc. for a two-year initial term at the estimated cost of $630,000 with a university option to renew up to three additional one-year periods at approximately $315,000 per year to be funded by the Kent State University Airport.
  • The Board approved the vendor selection for a web-based learning and assessment system. The university requires an adaptive mathematics software system that can integrate both placement and course applications, allowing students to be efficiently and appropriately placed into the full range of Kent State freshman mathematics courses. In response to a request for proposal, McGraw-Hill Education provided the proposal with the best overall value. The university will enter a contract with McGraw-Hill Education for the purchase of the ALEKS web-based learning and assessment system for a two-year initial term at the estimated cost of $1 million with the potential of three additional one-year extensions at $500,000 annually. The system will be funded by the current university operating budget.
  • The Board approved the amendment of the ground lease dated Oct. 16, 2018, with the Board of Education of the Berkshire Local School District to add 3.5519 acres of surplus university real property at Kent State’s Geauga Campus to the leased parcel to support amenities for an athletic stadium. The school district is currently constructing a pre-K-12 public educational facility on the leased parcel that is scheduled to open for the school district’s 2022 spring semester. The ground lease amendment will increase the total leased parcel to 34.1542 acres.
  • The Board authorized the purchase of properties owned by Judy A. Smith at 226 S. Lincoln St. on 0.204 acres of land and at 230 S. Lincoln St. on 0.114 acres of land in Kent, Ohio, for $615,000, which is equal to the appraised value. The Smith properties are within the strategic acquisition area identified by the university. Purchase of the properties will support future campus needs and strategic priorities. The funds for the purchase of these properties will be from the university’s real estate fund.

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Media Contacts:
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595
Lisa Abraham, labraha5@kent.edu, 330-672-1696

POSTED: Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 12:38pm
UPDATED: Friday, September 17, 2021 - 8:28am
WRITTEN BY:
University Communications and Marketing