Honoring All Those Who Serve: Kent State Holds Annual Veterans Day Observance

Kent State University invites all to pay tribute to those who have served in the U.S. armed forces and attend the university’s annual Veterans Day Commemoration. The event will take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, at Risman Plaza on the Kent Campus. Risman Plaza is located in front of the Kent Student Center.

Kent State ROTC cadets salute the flag during the university’s 2021 Veterans Day Commemoration.

The program, titled “Honoring All Those Who Serve,” will include a flag-raising ceremony conducted by a joint color guard from Kent State’s Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC programs on the Student Green at Risman Plaza; Tim Coyne, senior business manager for Kent State’s Division of Student Affairs, serving as bugler; the national anthem performed by Kent State student Elyse McCullough; the “Service Song Medley”; an invocation by the Rev. Kris Herman; and welcome remarks from Kent State President Todd Diacon.

A cadet from Kent State’s Airforce ROTC program holds the American flag during the university’s annual Veterans Day Commemoration.

Serving as emcee is Maureen McFarland, Ph.D., associate dean of academic affairs for the College of Aeronautics and Engineering at Kent State. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in aerospace engineering before commissioning as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. McFarland served on active duty as an electronic countermeasures officer, completing three combat tours. She also worked as the selection officer at Kent State before transitioning to the Marine Corps Reserve.

Keynote Speaker N. J. Akbar

N.J. Akbar

This year’s keynote speaker is N. J. Akbar, Ph.D., associate vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion at Kent State. Previously, he has served in several roles at Kent State, most recently as assistant dean for academic diversity in University College. 

Prior to joining Kent State, Akbar worked at the University of Michigan and served in the Michigan Army National Guard. In the Army, Akbar served as a human resources specialist and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) assistant in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 156th Signal Battalion in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and later in the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 177th Military Police Brigade in Taylor, Michigan. He was awarded several medals and ribbons during his time of service, including the Army Achievement Medal in 2005 for his outstanding leadership and service preparing hundreds of soldiers to deploy to Afghanistan.

Akbar comes from a military family with deep roots with family members serving during almost every war or conflict since World War I. His father was in the Air Force during Vietnam, serving in attachments in Germany, Puerto Rico and California. Most notably, Akbar’s grandfather, the late Albert Taylor Nelson Sr., was a Buffalo Soldier in World War II as a part of the famed 92nd Infantry Division that is credited for being the reason for defeating the Axis forces in the Italy Theatre in the summer of 1944, which led to the Allied forces winning the war. His picture currently hangs on a display of the Buffalo Soldiers from WWII at the Heritage Park Veterans Museum in McDonough, Georgia. 

Akbar has continued this legacy of service starting in high school volunteering as tutor and class president for two years, leading his junior ROTC battalion as battalion commander at the rank of cadet lieutenant colonel and later as a leading student senator in student government at Eastern Michigan University. Today, he is an elected member of the Akron Public Schools Board of Education, where he is serving his second year as president.

He holds a doctorate in cultural foundations from Kent State. He also earned his Master of Arts in educational leadership and Bachelor of Science in history and English for secondary education from Eastern Michigan.

The Nov. 10 event will also be livestreamed at www.kent.edu/veteransday.

For more information about Kent State’s Veterans Day Commemoration, visit www.kent.edu/veteransday.

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Media Contacts:
Eric Mansfield, emansfie@kent.edu, 330-672-2797
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Thursday, November 3, 2022 12:43 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 07:07 PM
University Communications and Marketing