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Summary of Board Actions

Posted Mar. 9, 2011

At its March 9 meeting, the Kent State University Board of Trustees took action on the following items:

Establishment of Ground-breaking School of Digital Sciences

If the iconic film “The Graduate” was remade today, its best-known scene would likely have the title character being urged to pursue a career in digital sciences instead of plastics. In response to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections that computer-related occupations will grow more than twice as fast as the average for other occupations in the next decade, the Board established an interdisciplinary School of Digital Sciences that is unique in Ohio and nationally.

The school, which will be launched next fall, will provide students with a broad understanding of the digital sciences in an enterprise environment, including expertise in business processes, information repositories, software development and underlying telecommunications infrastructure. The school also will be a catalyst for economic development as an incubator for research in digital sciences and as a proactive partner in interdisciplinary collaborations within the academic and private sectors.

Geared to both traditional and nontraditional students on all eight Kent State campuses, the school will offer bachelor of science, bachelor of arts and master of arts degree programs in digital sciences, as well as an undergraduate minor. Graduates of the programs will be in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics points to the possibility of more than 28,000 well-paying computer-related jobs in Ohio alone in the near future, and as many as 100,000 new computer-related jobs for Ohioans between 2008 and 2018.

The School of Digital Sciences, which will be overseen by a director, will be a freestanding unit outside of any existing college. It will break new ground by bringing together faculty from more than half a dozen disciplines, but leaving them based in their home academic units to teach and pursue interdisciplinary research.

In a separate action, the Board formally established the digital sciences major within the bachelor of arts, bachelor of science and master of science degrees.

Establishment of the School of Digital Sciences and the digital science major were approved previously by the university’s Educational Policies Council and Faculty Senate. It also was endorsed by the president and provost.

Creation of Ohio’s First Degree Programs Geared to Wine Industry

The Board created two associate-degree programs that will prepare students for skilled jobs in Ohio’s multimillion-dollar wine and grape industry. Each is the first of its kind in Ohio, which is one of the nation’s top 10 wine-producing states.  Starting fall semester 2011, students at Kent State University at Ashtabula will be able to major in enology, the study of wine and winemaking, and in viticulture, the study of vine growing and grape harvesting.

In separate actions, the Board established the two majors within the associate of applied science degree to offer students the opportunity to gain expertise in a high-demand field as it helps Ohio sustain and develop an industry that has an economic impact of more than $580 million annually.

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

Creation of University Requirement in Experiential Learning

The Carnegie Foundation has ranked Kent State among the nation’s top 76 colleges and universities in the area of community engagement. Kent State University’s Board of Trustees extended this nationally recognized focus on learning through engagement by establishing a requirement that all Kent State University undergraduates engage in at least one experiential learning experience. This requirement for “real-world” experience takes effect for fall semester 2012 and applies to entering freshmen who are pursuing baccalaureate degrees.

Experiential learning, which is intended to enhance students’ understanding of real-world issues, includes academic and non-academic activities such as community service, service learning, undergraduate research, internships and capstone projects. The National Survey of Student Engagement found that experiential education led to higher course grades, higher course completion rates, higher college grade-point averages and increased college retention.

Students will have the option of fulfilling the requirement in several ways, including completing a designated course; taking an approved, one-credit add-on to a course; or by engaging in a college-documented and approved non-course activity.

The new requirement was approved previously by the university’s Educational Policies Council and Faculty Senate, and was endorsed by the president and provost.

Establishment of Hospitality Management Major

Maximizing a longtime Kent State strength and responding to the projected growth of jobs in restaurant, hotel and other hospitality businesses in the next decade, the Board created a bachelor of science degree program in hospitality management, effective fall semester 2011. The new major, which will be offered through the College of Education, Health and Human Services at the Kent Campus and at Kent State University at Ashtabula, is an outgrowth of a nationally accredited, longstanding concentration in the nutrition and food major.

Making this academic concentration an independent major will increase the program’s visibility, a benefit for the university as well as students. Students who major in hospitality management will be prepared for careers such as managing restaurants, hotels and private clubs; planning social and corporate events that include food, beverage and lodging services; and managing sales for food distribution companies, hotels and resorts.

The new major was approved previously by the university’s Educational Policies Council and Faculty Senate, and is endorsed by the president and provost.

Increase in Room and Board Rates

The Board approved an overall 5.42 percent increase in the standard, undergraduate double-room and board rates, effective fall semester 2011. The increases will allow the university to keep pace with changing student needs, and to help offset rising costs for maintenance and repairs, utilities and food products. The increases will allow the university to continue operating its residence and dining programs on a self-sufficient basis while keeping room and board affordable for students and their families. The increases leave Kent State’s room and board rate among the lowest for Ohio’s residential campuses.

Under the new rates, a standard double-occupancy room and a full meal plan will be $4,415 a semester, an increase of $227 from the current rate of $4,188. Similar increases were instituted for other residential options, which include single and quad rooms, on-campus apartments and four other board plans.

Changes in Student Fees

The Board authorized changes in a variety of program, course and other student fees, most of which are effective fall semester 2011. The changes, which were reviewed by a variety of university staff members and university executive officers to ensure that they are necessary, range from the elimination of an $80 fee for students in a technology course to an increase of $795 for students in an advanced commercial pilot flight course.

Trustees also approved a $10 per credit hour fee for all distance-learning courses, and the continuation of two discounts to the regular surcharge rates for students who are not Ohio residents. The current discounts, which are available for out-of-state students from specified counties in Northern West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania who enroll at Kent State’s seven regional campuses or who enroll in distance-learning programs, are valid through June 2011. Their continuation must be approved by the Ohio Board of Regents.

Innovative Energy-Conservation Project Planned for Kent Campus Residence Halls

The Board authorized an energy-conservation project to ensure Kent State’s compliance with the energy-reduction goal set for 2014 in House Bill 251. Kent State’s plan is intended to exceed the goal, reducing energy use in its residence halls by an estimated 37 percent.

The project, which comprises the 24 residence halls on the Kent Campus and is estimated to cost from $17 million to $20 million, includes the installation of leading-edge, wireless technology in residence hall rooms that is controllable by computers or cell phones connected to the internet and will allow students and staff members to automatically or manually shut off lights and other power-using appliances, or adjust room temperatures. Kent State will be one of the nation’s first universities to install the technology in residence halls, which will result in significantly increased energy savings, especially during class breaks and during the summer.

The Brewer-Garrett Company was chosen by a university selection team to implement the energy-conservation project, which also will include typical energy-efficiency improvements such as lighting retrofits or replacements; installation of occupancy sensors; heating, ventilating and air-conditioning, and exhaust system enhancements; and replacement of single-pane windows with thermal windows.

Full funding for the project will be sought from a combination of external Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority and private placement. Trustees, who approved the funding plan in a separate action, stressed that regardless of the final financing method, the entire project will be funded from energy savings that accrue in a period of 15 years or less, as mandated by House Bill 7.

Kent State to Launch Major Telecommunications-Upgrade Project

The Board approved a three-year, four-phase project to upgrade telecommunications infrastructure equipment, including installation of full wireless coverage in all residence halls, across Kent State’s eight-campus system.

A university selection team chose LOGOS Communications, Inc. of Westlake, Ohio, to administer the project, which will replace aging telecommunications equipment with modern technology. In making the upgrades, the university will reduce the operating costs by reducing energy use and eliminating redundant connections; improve connectivity between and among its eight campuses and satellite offices; and meet the growing needs of students, faculty and staff to connect and collaborate through technology.

In other actions:

  • The Board named the on-air studio at WKSU-FM, the university’s award-winning public radio station, in honor of the J.M. Smucker Company and Richard and Tim Smucker and their families. The company and Smucker family members have been associated with WKSU-FM for more than 25 years as underwriters, financial sponsors of special projects and as individual station members and contributors.
  • The Board named the science education classroom in White Hall, home of the College of Education, Health and Human Services, in honor of Dr. Alan Mandel and alumnus Rae Grossman Mandel.  The Mandels have made a commitment to fund a $200,000 endowment that will allow the classroom, in which future teachers learn to deliver information in a compelling manner, to be renovated and maintained in ways fit for 21st-century curricula.
  • The Board unanimously approved a resolution expressing appreciation for the service of Board of Trustee member Andrew J. Banks, who was appointed by Ohio Gov. Bob Taft for a nine-year term as a trustee that will end in May. Trustees commended Banks, who is chairman and chief executive officer of Mid-America Consulting Group, for bringing a “focus on innovation, effectiveness and efficiency into his stewardship of Kent State”; for bringing to the Board an “independent business perspective and acumen”; and for distinguishing himself as a “passionate advocate for entrepreneurship, diversity and technology.”
  • Upon the recommendation of the university’s Citation and Recognition Committee, and with the endorsement of the president, the Board voted to confer an honorary doctor of humane letters degree upon Leonardo Ferragamo, the internationally renowned Italian business leader who is credited with turning the Salvatore Ferragamo Company into one of the world’s best-known and most-respected luxury fashion empires. The Board lauded Ferragamo’s contributions as a “leading force in the preservation and support of Florentine culture, the arts and the city’s legendary fashion trade” and noted his strong and valuable support of the Kent State Campus in Florence, the site of a study-abroad program that allows students to study fashion, art, history, communications and other subjects in Florence.
  • The Board revised the university policy on the administration of student conduct by creating an Academic Hearing Board to consider academic allegations or sanctions.
  • The Board authorized a $1.25 million project to replace a major portion of the roof of the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, which is more than 20 years old and in failing condition, with an energy-efficient roof system that carries a 20-year warranty.
  • The Board approved a financing plan for previously approved energy-conservation projects at Kent State’s Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Geauga, Salem and Trumbull campuses. The projects, which will bring the campuses in compliance with energy-reduction goals set for 2014 by House Bill 251, will be funded through bonds issued by the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority.
  • The Board authorized the purchase of two properties in the city of Kent as part of a planned expansion of the university’s Esplanade into downtown Kent: 
    • A O.2159-acre property at 324 Erie St. for $299,500.
    • A 0.3076-acre property at 128 S. Lincoln St. for $464,000.

The properties are owned by A&H Investments Joint Venture LLC and were purchased for under the values appraised independently in December 2010.

  • The Board authorized the vice president for finance and administration to seek the required legislative authorization to sell or exchange university-owned property at 1061 Fraternity Circle near the Kent Campus. The three-story office building on a 0.980-acre parcel houses the Kent State University Foundation. The University Circle property is no longer needed because the Foundation offices are moving to a larger, more accessible university property at 120 N. Lincoln St. This transaction is essential to the downtown Kent redevelopment project and the extension of the university’s Esplanade.

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Media Contacts:
Tom Neumann,, 330-672-8533
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595