April Update from the President
Dear Members of the Kent State University Community:
We have reached that time in the academic year when each day and week seems to pass with increasing speed. As we attempt to capture and relish every moment and opportunity, I am reminded that we are also nearing the completion of year two of our six-year vision, A Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State. Our commitment to shared goals is producing impressive outcomes and achievements.
Academic and Research Excellence
The dedication and scholarly achievements of our faculty are making tangible progress toward our vision to drive idea generation and national distinction through top-tier academic and research programs. We just received exciting news that we have two Guggenheim Fellow recipients in our School of Art. Mahwish Chishty is a new assistant professor, and Paul O'Keeffe is a recent professor emeritus, and both have just received Guggenheim Fellowships — a noteworthy achievement worthy of celebration. Additionally, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Gemma Casadesus Smith has received a National Institutes of Health RO1 Research Project Grant to continue her investigation into mechanisms that affect aging and Alzheimer's disease.
Our Board of Trustees unanimously approved our new School of Peace and Conflict Studies. This semester, our Board also approved several new degree programs, including a Master of Science in User Experience Design, a Master of Science in Health Informatics and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing for registered nurses. I want to extend my gratitude and congratulations to the many faculty and staff members who developed and will implement the innovative academic programs that have been approved in this academic year.
We also have created the Brain Health Research Institute and hope to soon announce the appointment of the institute's director. At the same time, we continue to make progress toward the creation of the Advanced Materials Science Research Institute, which will be the second of five proposed research initiatives.
Progress at Regional Campuses
Later this month, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Todd Diacon, Vice President Nate Ritchey, Senior Vice President Karen Clarke, Vice President Shay Little and I will attend meetings hosted by each of Kent State's Regional Campuses. We will exchange ideas and insights on common goals and vision with faculty, staff, students and advisory/board members on each Regional Campus. We have a great deal to celebrate as our entire system continues to advance the goals of our Strategic Roadmap.
As we reported in January, we received more than 200 proposals totaling some $1 billion in innovative ideas from virtually every part of our university system as part of the Think Big campaign that is informing our plans for the most ambitious fundraising campaign in our history. We are now visiting with deans, faculty and staff to discuss top projects to feature in the comprehensive campaign, and we are preparing to meet with the volunteer Campaign Executive Committee in June. The comprehensive campaign will provide opportunities for every member of the Kent State family to participate. An all-in effort is needed to achieve our ambitious goals that will propel Kent State into a bright and boundless future of service, marked by our students-first commitment.
I offer gratitude and congratulations to Vice President Steve Sokany and the Division of Institutional Advancement staff whose efforts this year foreshadow our growing momentum. Currently, our fundraising is $3 million ahead of last year. With the help of virtually every member of our global community, we are on target to reach our goal of $38 million in this fiscal year.
The state Fiscal Year 2018 biennium budget is in the hands of the Ohio House of Representatives, and the higher education budget now in development includes a 0% increase in the State Share of Instruction (SSI) and a 0% increase in tuition, with evolving alterations to the governor's proposed textbook fee policy still under discussion. Nick Gattozzi, Kent State's executive director of government relations, and I have had a number of productive meetings with legislators in Columbus, and we will continue to advocate aggressively on behalf of Kent State and our students. The House expects to complete its deliberations in early May, and the budget proposal will then move to the Ohio Senate.
The most powerful advocates for Kent State and the value of a university degree are our students. We will again participate in the annual IUC (Inter-University Council of Ohio) Day at the Statehouse on April 25. Seven of our students, along with students from each of the 14 IUC member institutions, will take part in meetings with state legislators to share their perspectives on the proposed state budget and to articulate the impact that their education is having on personal and career goals.
#KentStateUnited Pledge of Unity and Inclusion
I am grateful to the faculty, staff and students who have shared ideas and perspectives regarding how we can demonstrate a collective and shared support for an inclusive and diverse community. We have engaged in passionate and ongoing discussions throughout this spring semester.
Following significant dialogue and collaboration that included input from the President's Cabinet, Faculty Senate, Graduate Student Senate, Undergraduate Student Government and the Student Power Coalition, the #KentStateUnited Pledge of Unity and Inclusion was formally endorsed March 13 by the Faculty Senate.
The pledge, available here, is our distinctive pledge of inclusion and civility, encouraging all members of the Kent State family to openly affirm that we are a community where all are welcomed and supported. Every member of our community shares responsibility for supporting and respecting all who choose to live, learn and work within our eight-campus system. Our shared commitment to these ideals elevates Kent State as a national model for inclusion, civility and unity.
You will soon see a variety of messages of unity and inclusion around campus to ensure that the message is clear — you are welcomed here and Kent State values an inclusive community where we share ideas and beliefs with civility and respect. Student and staff groups continue to plan engaging #KentStateUnited activities. We encourage your participation in these programs and forums that are bringing members of our community together to experience the unifying power of our diversity and inclusive excellence.
One University Commencement
May 13 is a red-letter day for blue and gold pride as we come together for our first One University Commencement, when graduates and their families from all eight campuses will congregate for a universitywide ceremony at Dix Stadium. This united ceremony will be in addition to the Regional Campus, college-level and advanced degrees ceremonies. A universitywide commencement is a model used by many top-tier universities. For Kent State, it also manifests our shared commitment to be one united university family.
For members of our Regional Campuses, transportation is available from each campus for the commencement ceremony. We encourage all graduating students to register to participate as soon as possible on the Commencement website. And I encourage our faculty to participate in this ceremony that is so significant in the lives of our students and their families.
I express profound appreciation to Lashonda Taylor, director of university ceremonies, events and special programs, and the Commencement Committee for their extraordinary efforts to reimagine our Commencement celebration as a grand opportunity to celebrate our values and commitment to academic and inclusive excellence.
March Madness Spotlights Kent State
I would like to close with special recognition to our men's and women's basketball teams, coaches and Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. The men's team Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament Championship, the women's team MAC East Championship, and the men's and women's postseason success created an amazing fan experience for countless faculty, staff, alumni and friends across the country. Our national visibility demonstrated the potential for our Division I athletics programs to shine a bright spotlight on the full magnitude of greatness that exists at Kent State. Industry-standard estimates place the publicity value of our NCAA Tournament berth at nearly $35 million; a volume and level of exposure we could not reach with our normal marketing and advertising budget. Bravo to all involved in creating a brand new gameday experience that is transforming the way the world sees and experiences Kent State.
The success of our basketball programs is coupled with the outstanding efforts by the entire intercollegiate athletics programs, demonstrating that we truly embrace our mission to graduate student-athletes and win championships.
As we prepare to bring this outstanding academic year to a conclusion, I offer my very best wishes for boundary-breaking, passion-fulfilling successes that are hallmarks of our remarkable university community.
With best regards,