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Kent State University Summary of Board Actions

Posted Jun. 3, 2011

At its June 2 meeting, the Kent State University Board of Trustees took action on the following items:

New Center for Ecology and Natural Resource Sustainability will Expand Knowledge and Learning Opportunities

To maximize established academic strengths in ecological and environmental science, and to provide students with new real-world learning opportunities in the exploding “green” industry, the Board established the Center for Ecology and Natural Resource Sustainability, effective fall semester 2011. The multidisciplinary center, which will be administered through the Department of Biological Sciences within the College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as a point of organization for Kent State’s wide range of education, research and outreach programs related to the study of the environment and its sustainability.

The new center will benefit students in a variety of majors by providing unique educational opportunities, including experiential learning and course credit through activities related to ecology and natural resources. The center will serve as a “one-stop shop” for students, companies and agencies interested in internships in ecological sciences.

While the center will foster new and expanded collaborations among the departments of Biological Sciences, Geography and Geology, it will be open to participation by faculty from all academic units. The center also is intended to enhance the university’s ability to leverage extramural funding, consistent with a heightened federal government focus on environmental issues and workforce development for the nation’s green industries.

The new center, which does not require additional space or funding, was approved previously by the university’s Educational Policies Council and the Faculty Senate, and was endorsed by the president and provost.

Renowned Kent State Scientist Named Trustees Research Professor

The Board recognized the many scholarly contributions of Dr. Oleg D. Lavrentovich, the director of Kent State’s renowned Liquid Crystal Institute (LCI) whose own liquid-crystal research has earned international recognition, by appointing him to a five-year term as Trustees Research Professor. The professorship, which will begin July 1, 2011, will include teaching, advising students, continuing research, involvement in university committees, and participation in regional business and community groups and initiatives.

Lavrentovich, who will remain a tenured professor in Kent State’s department of chemical physics, will receive an annual salary of $140,000 and a renewable, $50,000 professional expense allowance to support a range of scholarly activities.

After coming to Kent State in 1992 as a senior research fellow at the LCI, Lavrentovich joined the faculty in 1994. He has served as director of the LCI since 2004.

Lavrentovich’s liquid-crystal research, which has attracted significant external funding, has been published widely in leading scientific journals and books. He was a leader in obtaining a $15.2 million Ohio Research Scholars Program award for a regional Research Cluster on Surfaces in Advanced Materials that is being led by Kent State.

Construction to Proceed on Physical Link between Campus and Downtown Kent

The Board authorized the university to proceed with the design, bidding and construction of a project that will complete a physical link between campus and the downtown Kent business district. The link is in the form of the university Esplanade, a tree-lined walk from Lincoln Street to Haymaker Parkway, which will facilitate safe and convenient access to the downtown area.

The Esplanade, which will create a new pedestrian-oriented entry point to the Kent Campus, also will provide the community and visitors with an attractive and inviting space for conversation, casual recreation and study. It will be part of the regional Portage Bike and Hike Trail system and the university’s Sculpture Walk.

The Esplanade project is a key component of the economic renaissance of the areas near campus and downtown Kent. Construction is expected to begin next spring and to be completed during fall 2012 in conjunction with the opening of the PARTA (Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority) multimodal transportation facility and other projects in downtown Kent.

About $2.58 million in university funds and a $700,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation have been allotted for the project, which will include the demolition of purchased homes aligning Erie Street and parcels of land along the direct path between Lincoln and Willow streets; removal of the existing Erie Street; and construction of the Esplanade extension with a combination of brick pavers and concrete, a prominent gateway structure, trees, shrubs and gardens, lighting, furniture and emergency phones.

Board Authorizes Continuation Operating Budget

Because state appropriation and legislative tuition directives for Ohio’s public universities have not been finalized by the governor and the Ohio General Assembly, the Board enacted a continuation operating budget, effective July 1, 2011.  The action will allow the university to operate at the funding level set by the Board for the current fiscal year, which will end June 30.

Once the legislature has passed the state budget, the Board will meet to review and enact a balanced operating budget for fiscal year 2011-12. The resolution also authorizes the Board chair, the Finance Committee chair, and the president to establish intended tuition subject to final review and approval by the Board, if circumstances prevent the Board from approving a final budget by June 30, 2011.

Annual Election of the President

In keeping with the university’s constitution, the Board voted unanimously to re-elect Dr. Lester A. Lefton to a sixth term as Kent State University president. The university constitution requires the Board to hold an annual election of the university president.

The Board also awarded the president the full value of his performance-based bonus pursuant to his employment agreement, effective July 1, 2010.

The Board commended Dr. Lefton, who became Kent State’s 11th president in July 2006, for his efforts in leading Kent State to new heights of excellence, including records in enrollment, retention and private giving; major progress toward transforming the Kent Campus in ways that will improve the educational experience of students and help boost the economy of the city of Kent; continuing efforts in campus sustainability and internationalization; and meaningful action toward making all Kent State campuses more inclusive.

In other actions:

  • The Board established a legal entity in New Delhi, India, to serve as a strategic starting point for engaging in India’s exploding higher education market. The legal entity will allow Kent State to open a New Delhi office and conduct activities such as recruiting students and creating joint-degree programs with Indian universities while remaining complaint with local laws.
  • The Board established a legal entity in Geneva, Switzerland, the site of Kent State’s longtime, internationally respected study-abroad program. The action ensures that the university will be in compliance with all city and national laws and regulations as it conducts business such as hiring staff, paying bills and providing educational activities.
  • The Board unanimously approved a resolution expressing appreciation for the service of Student Trustee Katherine O’Brien, who completed a two-year term on the Board. O’Brien is a doctoral student in Kent State’s curriculum and instruction program. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at Kent State University at Stark.
  • The Board authorized the purchase of a Kent property located at 205 S. Willow St. as part of a planned expansion of the university’s Esplanade into downtown Kent. The two and one-half story residence, which sits on 0.233 acres of land, was purchased from owner Barbara L. Hartz for its appraised value of $210,000.

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Media Contacts:
Tom Neumann, tneuman1@kent.edu, 330-672-8533
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595