Kent State Board of Trustees Approves New Center for Advanced Air Mobility, Improvements at University Airport and Purchase of Training Fleet Aircraft
The Kent State University Board of Trustees approved resolutions that advance programs for students studying aeronautics during the Board’s regular quarterly meeting held June 28 on the Kent Campus. With more than 1,100 students enrolled in fall 2022, the College of Aeronautics and Engineering saw the largest annual enrollment growth among Kent State’s colleges, and the additional support approved by the Board will go a long way toward generating more pilots and other key contributors to the aeronautics workforce.
Establishing New Center for Advanced Air Mobility
The Board approved the establishment of the Center for Advanced Air Mobility within the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, effective fall 2023. The new center will foster research, education and collaboration between faculty, staff and students within Kent State and external partners in government, academia and industry. The center will be a multidisciplinary community of researchers and practitioners addressing one of the most emergent, disruptive technologies in both aeronautics and engineering: the incorporation of small, autonomous aircraft into the national airspace and the global economy, with a particular emphasis on sustainability and clean energy.
Advanced air mobility refers to the integration of autonomous aircraft technology in low-level air transportation, with the aim to provide safe, efficient and sustainable air transportation solutions for passengers and cargo. Kent State’s Center for Advanced Air Mobility will be a self-sustaining center establishing external partnerships and collaborations to enable and foster research; provide avenues for workforce development in this emerging industry; contribute to the establishment of policy and law nationwide; and serve as a hub for expertise, with expected outcomes of increasing and transferring knowledge of key technologies and systems.
Rehabilitating and Reconstructing Kent State University Airport Runway
The Board approved addressing necessary rehabilitation and reconstruction on the runway at the Kent State University Airport in Stow, Ohio. The airport has been serving the community since 1917. The runway pavement is in disrepair and must be rehabilitated to meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) design and engineering standards.
The total project cost is not to exceed $5.2 million, with a total of $4,630,176 committed by the FAA and the Ohio Department of Transportation and $578,147 in local Kent Campus funds. The construction effort is slated to start in August 2023 to minimize the impact on the Aeronautics flight program. The airport runway will be closed during the entire construction duration, which is expected to be approximately six weeks.
Acquiring New University Training Fleet Aircraft
The Board approved the purchase of six new aircraft for the College of Aeronautics and Engineering to maintain its current training fleet. These new aircraft will replace older aircraft nearing the end of their useful life, resulting in the total number of aircraft remaining unchanged at 34.
Given the current climate in the aviation industry, Kent State’s flight training program is in high demand to train future pilots. New student enrollment in the Professional Pilot concentration has tripled over the past five years from 47 in 2016 to 143 in 2021. Due to this increase, it is important to continue to invest to maintain a modern and reliable fleet that gives students access to the tools needed to graduate.
The cost for the purchase of six aircraft over three fiscal years is estimated not to exceed $3.5 million. The aircraft are expected to be manufactured and delivered two years after the order is placed. Prior to the delivery of the aircraft, a competitive process will occur to secure a capital lease to finance the aircraft over a 10-year term. The lease will be funded through the sale of older aircraft and the revenue generated from course fees specific to the courses that utilize the aircraft.
Board Marks Last Beam Being Placed in Crawford Hall Construction
Following the meeting, Board members walked to the nearby construction site of Crawford Hall, the future home for the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship. The Board watched the topping out ceremony, a long-standing tradition of construction workers when the final steel beam is placed atop the building. A small evergreen tree and an American flag were attached to the beam. The beam was signed by Board members, donors, members of Kent State leadership, members of the college’s National Advisory Board, faculty, staff and others. Crawford Hall is expected to open in fall 2024.
Board Approves Two Naming Actions
The Board approved naming the Leadership Center’s physical space in the Kent Student Center the Pepsi Leadership Center in recognition of PepsiCo Beverages of North America’s $250,000 giving to provide endowed support to the Leadership Center. PepsiCo Beverages of North America recognizes Kent State’s Leadership Center as an excellent student-centered professional development program in Northeast Ohio and has been the official pouring vendor for Kent State since 2011. The company has generously supported Kent State students through scholarships within the E. Timothy Moore Student Multicultural Center, student projects in the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, and the Kent State of Well-Being initiative. On behalf of Kent State’s Division of Student Affairs and Leadership Center and the current and future students who will benefit from the center’s programs, the Board expressed sincere appreciation to PepsiCo Beverages of North America for its generosity.
The Board also approved naming the park outside Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center as Maj Ragain Poetry Park, recognizing the generosity of the Ragain Charitable Fund and Sean Ragain in providing new gifts totaling $100,000 to benefit the Wick Poetry Center. Major “Maj” Ragain graduated from Kent State in 1990 with a Doctor of Philosophy in English. He served as a beloved faculty member at Kent State from 1969 until 2016, during which time he was recognized with the Outstanding Term Teaching Award in English. He made a lasting impact on the lives of his students and mentees, held a weekly veterans’ healing circle that helped veterans connect with each other and heal through participation in the arts and hosted open poetry readings for 30 years. On behalf of Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center and the current and future students and community members who will benefit from the center’s programming, the Board expressed sincere appreciation to the Ragain Charitable Fund and Sean Ragain for their generosity.
The Board also heard an additional naming action that has been approved by the university president, who has the Board’s delegated authority to approve philanthropic naming opportunities with a total value or cost under $100,000. The president approved the naming of the Republic Airways Briefing Room at the university’s FedEx Aeronautics Academic Center for a 10-year period in recognition of the company’s $15,000 commitment. Republic Airways is a valued partner of Kent State’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering. The company has consistently supported the Professional Pilot program through its recruitment and hiring of students, and most recently, through its sponsorship of the first private pilot pinning ceremony. Republic Airways now is supporting the Professional Pilot program with the sponsorship of a large briefing at the FedEx Aeronautics Center.
Board Approves New Pre-Law Center
The Board approved the establishment of the Pre-Law Center within the College of Arts and Sciences, effective fall 2023. The Pre-Law Center will provide an administrative structure to facilitate the various pre-law advising, research and cocurricular activities that take place in the college and across the university.
Kent State currently provides preparatory curriculum in pre-law through a pre-law minor and a paralegal studies major, minor and certificate. The College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Public Health, the College of Communication and Information, and the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship all are engaged in a 3+3 agreement with law schools across Northeast Ohio, giving students the opportunity to graduate more quickly. The new Pre-Law Center will provide clarity and a clear institutional purpose and strategic direction by centralizing the various existing advising, career exploration and cocurricular activities.
Board Approves Merging Two Existing Centers to Establish a Center for Disability Inclusion
The Board approved merging the Center for Disability Studies and the Center for Innovation in Transition and Employment to establish one interdisciplinary unit called the Center for Disability Inclusion within the College of Education, Health and Human Services, effective fall 2023. The Center for Disability Inclusion will provide students, faculty and staff with enhanced opportunities for collaboration across the university and broader community.
The mission of the new center will be to advance the inclusion of individuals with disabilities, increase public awareness of disabling conditions and improve the outcomes achieved by individuals with disabilities in all aspects of society. This change will build and extend the work of two long-standing and highly productive research and training centers that have successfully managed more than $65 million in federal-, state- and foundation-funded projects since their inception.
Board Approves Establishing Gender and Sexuality Studies Major
The Board approved the College of Arts and Sciences to establish the Gender and Sexuality Studies major within the Bachelor of Arts degree effective fall 2023, pending approval of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The major will enhance the university’s existing programming by growing the university’s intellectual commitment to scholarship in the studies of ethnicity, cultural minorities, genders and groups.
The new major will take a multidisciplinary and intersectional approach to examining ideas and processes that shape people’s understanding about gender, sexualities and bodies throughout time. No additional resources are needed to accommodate the major as all the instruction and infrastructure already are in place.
Board Approves Expenditure Authorization for Fiscal Year 2024
At this time, the State of Ohio biennial budget for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025 is under development by the Ohio General Assembly and Gov. Mike DeWine. The budget currently under development impacts tuition caps, state share of instruction, funding through the Ohio College Opportunity Grant and other fiscal considerations.
Given the uncertainty regarding critical components of the university budget at this time, the Board approved a resolution authorizing the president and the university’s chief financial officer to expend monies from educational and general and auxiliary funds beginning July 1, 2023, at the funding level established by the Board for Fiscal Year 2023 and expenditure authorization of total funds applied equal to $661,325,892.
The president will submit an operating budget for action by the Board when appropriate information is available and a complete operating budget reflecting direction and authority can be prepared. It is anticipated this action will occur at the next regularly scheduled Board business meeting in September.
Board Approves Fall Tuition, Room and Meal Plan Rates
Under Tuition Guarantee Model
The Board approved the establishment of tuition, room and meal plan rates under the Tuition Guarantee Model for the cohort entering fall 2023, as permissible for the 2023-2024 year at the conclusion of the current state budget deliberations. The Tuition Guarantee is designed to provide students and their families a predictable and stable model for planning for the cost of a college degree. It provides all eligible new first-year undergraduates and their families the certainty that resident tuition, mandatory fees, and room and meal plan charges will not increase during the ensuing four academic years from their first enrollment as degree-seeking students.
By authorizing this resolution at this time, the Board will enable the administration to finalize the rates included in the Tuition Guarantee Model immediately after the state budget is approved so the information can be communicated to students and families and fall 2023 invoices can be distributed.
Not Under Tuition Guarantee Model
The Board also approved tuition and fees for students not covered under the Tuition Guarantee Model, effective fall 2023. The in-state tuition rate for continuing undergraduates will see no change (0% increase), consistent with expected provisions in the final State of Ohio Fiscal Year 2024 operating budget. The Kent Campus annualized full-time undergraduate tuition for continuing students is seventh of the 13 Ohio public universities. This lower tuition rate and continued investments made in institutional financial aid reflect the university’s ongoing commitment to affordability.
Non-Ohio residents are assessed a surcharge in addition to tuition. The Board approved an increase of 4%, or $182.10 per semester, in the undergraduate full-time rate, effective for fall 2023.
To continue to offer quality academic programming, research opportunities and student financial aid, additional investments are needed in graduate programs. The Board approved increases in graduate tuition (4%) and the non-Ohio resident surcharge (4%). The impact of these increases is $22 per credit hour for graduate tuition and $19 per credit hour in the non-Ohio resident surcharge.
Special Surcharge Rates for Non-Ohio Residents
Responsible for approving fees for instruction and other education services, the Board approved the continuation of special out-of-state surcharge rates, subject to any required approvals from the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
Reductions from established instructional and general fees as well as out-of-state surcharge rates are permitted if approved by the Board and the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Set to expire at the end of this fiscal year, the Board approved continuing the following reductions in the regular out-of-state surcharge assessed to specific non-Ohio residents:
- An 80% waiver of the out-of-state surcharge rate that applies for students attending Regional Campuses from specific counties in Pennsylvania (Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Erie, Lawrence and Mercer counties) and West Virginia (Brooke, Hancock and Ohio counties).
- A reduced special fee of $10 per credit hour for non-Ohio residents enrolled in fully online programs at any Kent State campus.
- A special reduced fee of $10 per credit hour for non-Ohio residents currently enrolled in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at the Kent Campus.
- A reduced rate of $1 per credit hour, not to exceed $11 per term, for new non-Ohio residents enrolled in a graduate degree program at the Kent Campus (except non-degree programs or those at the College of Podiatric Medicine) who earned their undergraduate degree from an institution of higher education in Ohio.
- A waiver of the out-of-state surcharge, not to exceed 97.5%, for undergraduate and graduate students attending Kent State as part of a specific international partner university program. Current institutions with specific partner programs with Kent State include the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná (PUCPR) in Brazil and the American University in Cairo, Egypt.
The approved waivers will continue through the 2025 Spring Semester and any summer terms that begin prior to June 30, 2025.
Among other Board actions:
- The Board authorized changes in a variety of special program, course and other student fees, including eliminating nearly 40 fees. University staff, including executive officers, extensively reviewed the changes to program, course and miscellaneous fees for fall 2023 for compliance with statutory requirements and to ensure that all are in the appropriate amounts and are necessary to protect program quality.
- The Board approved the Memorandum of Understanding between the university and the Tenure-Track Bargaining Unit of the American Association of University Professors, Kent State Chapter, dated June 28, 2023. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the two parties has a term of Aug. 19, 2019, through Aug. 18, 2023. The parties have agreed to specific modified provisions to the Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding compensation and included these in a Memorandum of Understanding, to be effective through Dec. 31, 2025. AAUP represents approximately 700 full-time faculty in this unit.
- The Board approved renovations to McGilvrey Hall for the School of Peace and Conflict Studies. The project includes the renovation and modernization of the existing administrative suite for the school to provide advising offices, faculty offices, student lounge space and school leadership spaces focusing on mediation. The $1.6 million project will be supported by local funds and is expected to be completed by spring 2024.
- The Board approved phase one of a roof replacement on the Library/Theatre Building at Kent State University at Trumbull. The Library/Theatre Building’s roof is out of warranty and in severe disrepair. Extreme storm events have caused considerable damage requiring the expansion of the originally planned phase one scope area. The total project cost is budgeted at $1.275 million, with $500,000 coming from state capital appropriations and $775,000 in local university funds.
- The Board approved phase three of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades in Founders Hall at Kent State University at Tuscarawas. The air handlers and reheat systems in Founders Hall are original to the 1968 building construction and are inefficient, antiquated and difficult to control in a consistent manner. With the completion of phase two in 2022, phase three will continue the improvements based on a prioritized list of critical equipment while maximizing energy reductions. The university has budgeted $1 million for phase three with funds coming from two sources: $500,000 from local Tuscarawas Campus funds and $500,000 from state capital appropriations. Construction is anticipated to begin in winter 2023 and be completed by fall 2024.
- The Board approved an amendment to the Kent Campus solar array project. On March 10, 2021, the Board approved the project as proposed by American Electric Power Onsite Partners LLC for the design, construction and operation of a 6-megawatt solar photovoltaic with 3-megawatt battery energy storage system purchase power agreement. Upon commencing final project design and site preparation, significant issues due to supply chain delays, historically high construction inflation and excessive wetlands on the original project site made the delivery of the originally proposed project unfeasible. Based upon the results of final project pricing, availability of materials, awarding of Federal Investment Tax Credits and expansion of the project site to include an additional parcel across the roadway of state Route 261, the design, construction and operation of a 5-megawatt solar photovoltaic with 1.5-megawatt battery energy storage system purchase power agreement is feasible and economically advantageous.
- The Board approved the vendor selection for medical benefit administrative services for employees and dependents effective Jan. 1, 2024, for three years plus a university option to renew up to two additional one-year periods. In response to a proposal for these services issued by Kent State’s Procurement Department, Medical Mutual of Ohio provided the proposal with the best overall value. The estimated cost for these services is $1,237,000 for 2024 and annual one-year, fixed-cost renewals projected to increase by up to 2% for the calendar years 2025 through 2028.
- The Board approved the vendor selection for Microsoft 365 software solutions and support. Kent State requires a supplier to provide enterprise-grade productivity software solutions that enable collaboration (e.g., mail, calendar and virtual meetings) and additional enterprise-level operational solutions, including enterprise security and monitoring, business applications, cloud-based services, and data analytics and insights, to support critical university operations. For the past five years, these software solutions have been made available through formal procurement and negotiation of the Inter-University Council of Ohio and its members for Microsoft 365 solutions and licensing available through the firm SHI. The total cost to extend this service for a three-year term effective July 1, 2023, is approximately $2.94 million to be funded by the Division of Information Technology.
- The Board elected the following officers for 2023-2024: Shawn Riley, chair; Ann Womer Benjamin, vice chair; and Donald Mason, secretary.
- In a routine action required by the Kent State Constitution, the Board formally approved the annual election of President Todd A. Diacon, effective July 1, 2023.
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Photo Caption for Top Image:
The final steel beam is placed atop Crawford Hall, the future home for the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Kent State University.