KENT STATE BOARD OF TRUSTEES RATIFIES FISCAL YEAR 2020 EFFICIENCY REPORT THAT INDICATES MORE THAN $31 MILLION IN SAVINGS; Kent State News; December 1, 2020
The Kent State University Board of Trustees ratified the university’s Fiscal Year 2020 Efficiency Report and Master Recommendations report, which showed an effectiveness and efficiency savings for Fiscal Year 2020 of $31,286,881. The savings is $6.2 million more than originally estimated.
The Board ratified the report Dec. 1 during its regular quarterly meeting.
The report, which is submitted annually to the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, highlights nearly $8 million in direct savings to students in terms of reduced tuition and textbook expenses. The report also includes a combined $5 million in reduced expenses for servicing the university’s debt and cost of managing its investments.
Kent State has increased its effectiveness and efficiency savings compared to the prior year’s savings of $26,814,604.
Board Revises Room and Board Rates for 2021 Spring Semester
Board members approved reduced housing and dining rates for spring 2021 to correspond with a shortened spring housing and dining term – 13 weeks versus the usual and previously approved 17-week service period.
The Board’s decision was made in support of the adjusted spring 2021 academic calendar, which moves spring break to later in the term and concludes with remote instruction after spring break.
While spring 2021 is beginning as planned with classes on Jan. 19, residence halls and dining venues will close on April 17 instead of at the end of the semester in May. The decision to modify the semester was made to reduce the number of students returning to campus following spring break recess as part of the overall strategy to reduce risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rates for all room types and dining plans reflect rate reductions equivalent to four weeks of service, which represents a reduction of at least 23%.
Board Authorizes Spring 2021 Offering of Voluntary Separation Incentive for Eligible Faculty
The Board also authorized the opening of a second election period of the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP) for eligible full-time faculty members. In May 2020, the university offered a voluntary separation incentive program for faculty and staff that was implemented with excellent results overall: 292 total participants with annual salary and benefits savings of nearly $26.5 million. For eligible faculty, the Board also approved a Voluntary Transitional Opportunity whereby a retired faculty member could return on a part-time basis. Given that the implementation of these programs occurred after the end of the faculty contract period in academic year 2019-2020, this second window of opportunity for faculty will be offered with the exact same terms and eligibility requirements. Further information about the program will be communicated to eligible faculty later this week.
Board Praises President Diacon for Leadership in Annual Review
Board members praised Kent State President Todd Diacon for his outstanding, steady leadership in a time of great challenge and uncertainty, sharing the sentiment of many stakeholders consulted during the course of the Board’s annual review of the president that Diacon has been the right leader at the right time for Kent State. This is Diacon’s first review as university president. He began serving as Kent State’s 13th president on July 1, 2019.
In reviewing Diacon’s 2019-2020 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 since the onset of 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, and that his employment shall continue as previously authorized by the Board with no increase in his permanent base salary for the 2020-2021 year. The Board acknowledged that at the president’s request, his salary and the incentive payment are being reduced by 12.5% in keeping with the employee salary adjustment model. The Board also commended Diacon and his wife, Moema Furtado, for their generosity in donating $25,000 for scholarships in theatre and dance.
Among other Board actions:
- The Board confirmed the conferral of a total of 1,214 degrees for summer 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 May 9, 2020, to Aug. 15, 2020.
- Board members approved the updated Kent State Complete College Ohio Campus Completion Plan as part of a state and institutional commitment to increasing the number of college degrees awarded in Ohio. Kent State remains committed to improving student success while keeping true to its mission of providing accessible education for the citizens of Ohio and beyond. As required, the university has updated its completion plan and has received approval from the Board to submit the updated plan to the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
- The Board approved heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements to Henderson Hall, which serves as home to the College of Nursing. Henderson Hall was constructed in 1978 and still operates with much of the original HVAC equipment serving the building. The hall requires the replacement of numerous pieces of mechanical equipment. In addition, a new universal restroom will be constructed to offer a gender-inclusive and accessible restroom facility to serve the occupants of the building. Construction is anticipated to begin in the summer 2021 and be completed by spring 2022. The university has budgeted $1 million for this project with funds coming from the state of Ohio capital allocation (House Bill 481) from biennium 2019-2020.
- The Board approved three university policies regarding information technology administration. Kent State recognizes the vital role information technology plays in the university’s missions and related administrative activities as well as the importance in an academic environment of protecting information. As part of its commitment to sound practices and recognizing the importance of protecting information in all forms, Kent State’s Division of Information Technology recommended these changes. The new policies provide improved guidance and clarity for the proper use, management, administration and protection of information technology resources.
Board Receives Update on Spring 2021 Strategy
Members of the university’s administration updated trustees on the institution’s spring semester strategy to keep the campus community safe during the ongoing pandemic. Kent State will continue to see a reduced capacity on campus via a mixture of in-person and remote classes, reduced density in the residence halls, limited in-person gatherings and other measures. Additional measures for spring semester will include enhanced COVID-19 testing and no in-person classes after spring break.
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