Thursday May 7, 2020

Our Student-Ready Commitment

Dear Kent State University Students, Faculty and Staff,

This past July, our leaders in the Division of Academic Affairs and our Cabinet members read and discussed the book "Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success" and spent a day studying and learning with one of the book's co-authors, Dr. Tia Brown McNair. In a student-ready college world, we focus less on asking if students are ready for college and more on ensuring that Kent State is ready to help all students succeed through supportive policies, people and programs.

This past July … in some ways this feels as if it were 10 years ago. Literally, the world has changed since then. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered our temporal universe, heightening time's presence, power and passing. It is as if we can now think of our world in terms of "BP" (Before Pandemic) and "AP" (After Pandemic).

And yet, things haven't changed. In particular, what hasn't changed is Kent State's commitment to being a student-ready college whose decision-making, programming and focus are driven by our commitment to student access and student degree completion. Our student-ready commitment spreads wide and runs deep, so much so that our generous supporters donated $250,000 to the Kent State Emergency Grant Fund in just five weeks because in a student-ready world, Flashes Take Care of Flashes. Our student-ready commitment spreads wide and runs deep, so much so that our faculty and Division of Academic Affairs leadership moved more than 9,000 courses to remote learning in just three business days. And our student-ready commitment spreads wide and runs deep, so much so that 74 student tutors have provided nearly 3,120 hours of virtual tutoring since the move to remote learning.

Our student-ready commitment extends to who we are and to who leads us. To lead at Kent State, one must focus on accessibility and degree completion; one must live one's life committed to helping not just the fortunate few but also the meritorious many earn their college degrees; and one must demonstrate a commitment to an around-the-clock focus on our students, their world and their needs.

As such, it gives me great pleasure to announce today the appointment of two leaders: Dr. Lamar R. Hylton as the vice president for student affairs and Dr. Amoaba Gooden as the interim vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. Find more information on their appointments. I cannot think of two individuals, both well known on campus, who better epitomize our commitment to student success than Drs. Gooden and Hylton. Furthermore, I cannot think of two individuals better prepared to lead during these difficult times. Both bring a depth of experience, a wealth of knowledge and unlimited empathy to their new roles, and we will benefit from their leadership and good judgment. We will, in short, become an even more student-ready college because of their commitment to Kent State and to our students, faculty and staff.

In a world of uncertainty, it is nice to know that Drs. Hylton and Gooden are here to lead us to new accomplishments and in new directions. We, and they, are ever mindful of the pressures, uncertainties, anxieties and challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We, and they, are ever mindful of the disappointments felt since early March, be they the disappointment of lost music, theatre and dance performances, lost research opportunities, and, yes, the lost opportunity to celebrate our graduating seniors at a spring One University Commencement. We, and they, are ever mindful that many among us are suffering and in need of our assistance.

I have mentioned several times that the only certainty at the moment is uncertainty. And as uncomfortable as that makes all of us, we are guided by our student focus, which will direct our decision-making, and by the commitment of our staff and faculty to maintaining a Flashes Take Care of Flashes community.

We face momentous decisions over the coming weeks and months. We also have much to celebrate as we end the school year, even if that conclusion is not what we envisioned when the semester began. We wish our graduating students the best as they march confidently into the future, and we thank them and their parents, relatives, friends and supporters for making student access and degree completion a reality at Kent State.

Sincerely,

Todd Diacon
President