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Advisory: Summary of Nov. 17 Board Actions

Posted Nov, 18, 2009

At its Nov. 17 meeting, the Kent State University Board of Trustees took action on the following items:

Kent State Planning for Major Kent Campus Capital Improvements

To ensure Kent State’s ability to provide students now and in the future with a world-class education, the Board authorized the university to proceed with the next steps in developing a plan for major capital improvements at the Kent Campus, including the rehabilitation of aging buildings and construction of new buildings. The plan is likely to include the issuance of General Receipts Bonds to finance the improvements. Trustees noted that the time is ripe for planning a bond issuance because it would allow the university to take advantage of highly favorable bond interest rates.

The Board stipulated that the total amount of bonds issued cannot exceed $200 million; that all projects funded by the bonds must align with academic priorities; that all projects must preserve the value of recent improvements and allow the continuance of university operations; and that, to the greatest extent possible, all projects must use best practices in energy efficiency.  

With today’s Board action, the university will move forward with a consultation process that includes a variety of university constituencies and results in a specific plan of capital projects. The plan would be submitted for Board approval in early 2010.

In a related action that is in keeping with standard practice at public universities across Ohio and nationwide, the Board authorized the vice president for Finance and Administration and the president to work with the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents to develop a schedule of instructional and general student fees that would include a fee to help offset the debt created by the bond issue. The university will work with the chancellor and university leadership to develop the appropriate form and amount of such a fee.

Kent State Becomes Only Ohio University to Offer Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Public Health Fields

To meet an urgent state and national need for highly trained public health professionals, Kent State’s Board of Trustees approved the establishment of a master of public health degree and a Ph.D. degree in its new College of Public Health. Pending final approval from the Ohio Board of Regents, the degree programs will be effective fall semester 2010. Having established a bachelor of science degree in public health earlier this year, the Board’s addition of graduate-level degree programs makes Kent State the only institution in Ohio to offer all three levels of public health education. The university is the state’s second university — and the only one in Northeast Ohio — with a College of Public Health.

Kent State’s College of Public Health takes advantage of the university’s nationally recognized strengths in areas such as nursing, biopreparedness, sociology and violence prevention. The new college reflects Kent State’s historic public-service mission and is a major response to the University System of Ohio strategic plan, which asks universities to leverage existing areas of excellence to improve the state’s education, research, service and economic opportunities.

With the full range of degree options, Kent State is well positioned to play a key role in providing Ohio and the nation with a variety of public-health professionals; to provide students with a wide range of career prospects in high-demand areas such as biostatistics, epidemiology, health services administration, environmental health and health education; and to facilitate a unique regional strength in public health education, research and services.

The establishment of master’s- and Ph.D.-level programs in public health is particularly important in producing experts in the critical areas of infectious disease prevention, chronic disease prevention, and violence and injury prevention. The doctoral program will offer three areas of specialization: prevention science; health policy and management; and epidemiology. The master of public health degree program will offer five areas of specialization: epidemiology; biostatistics; environmental health sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and health policy and management.

According to a February 2008 report by the Association of Schools of Public Health, America will need 250,000 more public health workers by 2020 — a well-educated, technologically savvy and multidisciplinary workforce that includes public health physicians and nurses, occupational and environmental health specialists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, health educators, health-program administrators and health-policy analysts. The report concludes, “Without enough public health workers protecting us where we live, work and play, we all are vulnerable to serious health risks.”

The new degree programs were approved previously by the university’s Educational Policies Council and the Faculty Senate, and by the president and provost.

Regional Campus Surcharge Reduced for Students from Northern West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania

In an effort to spark regional economic growth and open the doors to higher education for out-of-state students from the Lake Erie to Ohio River corridor, the Board approved an 80-percent reduction in the surcharge for students from Northern West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania who enroll at a Kent State Regional Campus. Pending final approval from the Ohio Board of Regents, the reduction will take effect fall semester 2010.

The reduction is exclusively for out-of-state students who attend a Kent State Regional Campus and reside in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Erie, Lawrence and Mercer counties in Western Pennsylvania, and in Brooke, Hancock and Ohio counties in Northern West Virginia.

The current out-of-state surcharge is $3,846. Under the current fee structure, upper-division, full-time students would have their total costs reduced by $3,065 per semester.

Trustees explained that in addition to removing a barrier to higher education for many out-of-state students who live in close proximity to a Kent State Regional Campus, the surcharge reduction is a way to spur partnerships with out-of-state businesses in areas served by Regional Campuses and thus play a role in the economic growth of regions along the Lake Erie to Ohio River corridor.

Board Extends President’s Contract

Citing the outstanding performance of President Lester A. Lefton and the value of stable leadership, the Board voted unanimously to extend Dr. Lefton’s employment contract from its current end date of June 30, 2011, to June 30, 2014. The president’s initial, five-year contract specified that a review of the contract’s terms would be conducted after three years. Dr. Lefton became Kent State’s 11th president in July 2006.

The Board’s action did not result in a change to his base salary.

In other actions:

  • The Board reduced the minimum number of credit hours required to graduate with a master’s degree from 32 to 30. The revision, which is in accordance with the recommendation of the Council of Graduate Schools and accrediting agencies, will not compromise academic quality, since each master’s program must maintain national standards according to its respective accrediting agency.
  • The Board established a Regional College to serve as the administrative home for programs and curricula issues unique to the Regional Campuses, effective spring semester 2010. The new college will allow the Regional Campuses to offer degrees and certificate programs that respond to unique community needs and are not affiliated with any particular Kent Campus department. It will be led by a Regional College dean who also serves as dean of his or her Regional Campus.
  • The Board authorized the vice president for Finance and Administration to enter into a contractual agreement with Triad Development to lease property at 13 Rue Rousseau in Geneva, Switzerland. The property will be the new home of students who participate in Kent State’s study-abroad program in Geneva.
  • The Board unanimously passed a resolution expressing its appreciation for the outstanding leadership of Lois Margaret Nora, M.D., J.D., during her seven-year tenure as president and dean, College of Medicine, for the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine and Pharmacy. Dr. Nora will step down from these leadership roles at the end of 2009.
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