Reflection and Momentum
When I arrived on campus, just 22 months ago, I was astounded by the genuine Kent State University community that welcomed me with open arms and kind hearts. There was no better evidence of this than the unconditional and overwhelming support I have received over the last month. I continue to be deeply moved by the outpouring of thoughtful well wishes from so many students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. Your empathy and caring messages of encouragement remind me of just how grateful I am, and how fortunate we all are, to be part of this truly special family.
The end of the semester brings to a close another momentous academic year, one that was witness to individual accomplishments far too numerous to cite here. In addition, we can be proud of several universitywide initiatives, none of which could have been achieved without your strong commitment and exceptional work.
Through broad community participation and the tireless efforts of our Strategic Visioning Advisory Committee (SVAC), we completed the Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State. The Strategic Roadmap is our blueprint in building Kent State's bold future.
Our new university vision and mission statements served as a foundation for the creation of our dynamic, new brand, which we launched in a marvelous celebration that was uniquely Kent State. Now, we are sharing with the world all the ways that we are Undeniably Kent State! Your contributions and special stories bring life to the Undeniably Kent State experience.
Through our Foundations of Excellence initiative, we celebrated the successful completion of the Center for the Visual Arts, the groundbreaking for our Integrated Sciences Building and the grand opening of Kent State University at Stark's Science and Nursing Building — all providing exceptional spaces for learning, discovery and innovation.
An important part of our university's story is the vital research that takes place at Kent State and the application of that research in making the world a better place. Our Research Advisory Council has proposed the launch of five Research Centers of Distinction in the areas of brain health, materials science, environmental science and design, population health and global understanding. These, along with other ongoing research efforts, will serve as a cornerstone for our emergence as a productive national public research university.
The success of our students remains our top priority, and there was great evidence of that success as we conferred 5,226 degrees at Spring Commencement exercises systemwide. I extend a hearty congratulations to our May 2016 graduates. We are very proud of all you have achieved and very excited to see the meaningful impact you will make in our community, our nation and our world!
We also took critical steps this year in making our campuses healthier and more welcoming to all. In the interest of creating a healthy environment for living and learning for our students and everyone on campus, we have begun the process of making all Kent State campuses and facilities smoke- and tobacco-free by July 1, 2017. We also completed the data collection phase of our university climate survey, ensuring that all voices will be heard. I thank the broad-based groups that carried out these initiatives and the entire community for your spirited participation.
We are also taking steps to ensure that Kent State remains fiscally healthy, with sound budgeting that will keep the university in a strong position to best serve our students, faculty and staff and contribute to the greater good of the communities we serve. We are committed to making this process as accessible and transparent as possible. Please review highlights of our recently approved budget for fiscal year 2017. Also toward this end, we are making progress on the assessment of our Responsibility Centered Management (RCM) budget model. I want to thank the Faculty Senate Budget Advisory Committee (FaSBAC), Provost Todd Diacon, Senior Vice President Mark Polatajko and the small work group exploring viable options for revisions to our current model.
In closing, I extend my absolute best wishes to everyone for a productive and enjoyable summer. I am already looking forward to fall semester when I can hear about all you will accomplish.
With best regards,