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Kent State University Summary of Board Actions for March 14

Posted Mar. 14, 2012

At its March 14 meeting, the Kent State University Board of Trustees took action on the following items:

Kent State to Add College in Growing Field of Podiatry

As the number of Americans who are diabetic and/or severely overweight increases, the demand for podiatrists will grow substantially, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To provide students with new career opportunities in podiatry and to ensure that Ohio’s need for podiatrists will be met in the decades to come, the Board established the Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine (KSUCPM). The action brings the university closer to finalizing its friendly acquisition of the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine (OCPM).

The OCPM Board is expected to act upon the acquisition later this month. Pending approval from the Ohio Board of Regents, the Higher Learning Commission and the Council on Podiatric Medicine, OCPM will be the only podiatric college associated with a state university. Only nine accredited colleges of podiatric medicine are in operation nationwide. The Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, established in 1916, is one of the largest and most respected podiatric medical education institutions in the country, and the only accredited podiatry school in Ohio.

In recent months, both institutions have been working closely to ensure a smooth transition for OCPM students, faculty and staff. The proposed KSUCPM will remain at the OCPM’s current site in Independence, Ohio, and will be considered a Kent State campus. The KSUCPM will be launched without any one-time funding needs and will continue to operate under a budget that reflects the OCPM’s current, “in the black” status. It will be led by a chief executive officer (formerly OCPM president) and executive vice president during a formal transition period that is expected to span July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014.

The proposed college will provide opportunities for cross-functional research and teaching, and joint educational opportunities in areas such as public health, biomedical sciences, medical ethics and sports medicine. Other potential areas for interaction include medical practice management, faculty professional development, binary-degree program development, dual graduate-degree program development and shared access to technological resources.

In addition, Kent State will benefit from opportunities to expand community outreach, share grant-writing expertise, add podiatric care in campus clinics and facilities, and explore distance and blended-learning activities for students.

The proposed KSUCPM will offer approximately 60 courses leading to the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree. The partnership also will offer expanded academic options for podiatric students, including the ability to obtain a dual degree, such as a master’s degree of business administration or public health, or a Ph.D. in a variety of science programs. Access to Kent State’s many sports teams and activities, as well as the ability to work with Kent State faculty, trainers and team physicians, could lead to a new area of specialization in the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine program.

Prior to the Board’s action, the establishment of the KSUCPM was approved through Kent State’s Educational Policies Council and the Faculty Senate, with approval from the president and provost.

Kent State Takes Steps Toward Capital Improvements

To help ensure Kent State’s ability to provide students now and in the future with a world-class education, the Kent State University Board of Trustees reauthorized the issuance of general receipts bonds to allow the university to finance the rehabilitation of aging buildings and new construction at its Kent Campus. “Kent State University feels intense pressure to attend to our infrastructure, which is essential to meeting the demand of our growing student population and to address the necessary safety needs of our Kent Campus,” said Lester A. Lefton, Kent State University President.

The Board amended the terms of the bond issuance that it initially approved in November 2009. That authorization expired Nov. 30, 2011. The Board reauthorized the issuance with a deadline of Dec. 13, 2013, and amended the total amount of bonds issued to $170 million, a decrease in the original issuance limit of $210 million. This action will allow the university to take advantage of today’s very favorable lending market.

“Everyone agrees on the need for these capital improvements,” stated Board Chair Jacqueline Woods. “The board believes we cannot afford to ignore pressing deferred maintenance repairs and renovations. We’re making some tough decisions not the least of which is a major 30-year commitment in our budget in order to go forward. It represents the university’s single largest reinvestment in its academic infrastructure.” The bond payments will come out of the university’s operating budget, from general receipts.

The facilities improvement plan will have a tremendous impact on the quality of education at Kent State. All projects will align with Kent State's academic priorities, preserve the value of recent improvements, allow the continuance of university operations and, to the greatest extent possible, use best practices in energy efficiency. The next step is to determine the projects and present that plan at the next Board meeting.

Attending to the needs of the aging infrastructure helps the university play an even stronger role in Ohio’s economic recovery.  Chair of the Board’s Academic Excellence and Student Success Committee, Dennis Eckart, added, “We’re doing what the state has asked, and we’re investing in what the state has asked us to do, which is to encourage more people to go to college, to invest in retention efforts to increase the number of college graduates in Ohio, and to produce well-prepared graduates for Ohio’s economy.”

Kent State graduates are in high demand in Ohio’s workforce. In fact, as the number one and largest producer of college-degreed talent available to Northeast Ohio employers in fields such as nursing, investing in academic facilities is a practical economic decision.  “As a hospital administrator, I know that increased enrollment in programs such as nursing requires an infrastructure that can support that level of demand in order to meet the needs for Ohio,” commented Trustee Stephen Colecchi, member of the Board’s Finance and Administration Committee.

Kent State to Help “Insure” Good Jobs for Grads with Insurance Studies Major

Knowing that insurance is one of Ohio’s major employers and is a field that is projected to grow, the Board created Northeast Ohio’s first bachelor’s degree in insurance, effective Fall Semester 2012.
The new degree program, which will be offered initially at Kent State University at Salem and administered through the university’s Regional College, will address all the needs of professional insurance practitioners. Students in the program will graduate with high-level communication, technical, leadership and project-management skills that allow them to secure good jobs in the insurance industry.

According to the Ohio Insurance Institute, insurance is a major source of employment opportunities in Ohio. Ohio is one of the nation’s top five states when it comes to the concentration of insurance underwriter and claims processor jobs. The state is home to 251 insurance companies with more than 96,000 employees and wages exceeding $6 billion. Kent State’s own market analysis found that annual employment for Ohio’s finance and insurance industry is expected to grow by 7.1 percent from 2006 to 2016, resulting in the creation of about 16,900 new positions in the industry.

The new program was previously approved by the appropriate college faculty and curriculum committees, the Educational Policies Council and the Faculty Senate, and was endorsed by the president and provost.

Tuition and Fees Set for Fall 2012

In response to Kent State University’s commitment to providing students with a high-caliber educational experience, and to continuing constraints in state funding for higher education, the Board approved a 3.5-percent increase in undergraduate and graduate tuition on the university’s eight campuses. The increase is in keeping with a state-mandated limit on undergraduate tuition increases for the 2012-13 academic year.

The Board also addressed a fee inequity in which students taking heavy course loads in a semester are charged a flat fee equal to 11 credit hours. The Board approved a phased-in, credit-hour charge for all Kent Campus students who take more than 16 credit hours per semester.

During the coming academic year, students will be charged the individual credit-hour fee for all enrolled hours above 17 credit hours. Starting in 2013-2014, students who enroll in more than 16 credit hours per semester will be charged the standard credit-hour rate for each additional hour.

There was no change in the surcharge for out-of-state students. Special non-resident rates offered to students from Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia attending the seven Regional Campuses remain in effect, giving students from those areas an 80-percent reduction in the non-resident surcharge rate.

Effective fall semester 2012, undergraduate tuition for students at the Kent Campus will increase $163 per semester (from $4,673 to $4,836). Graduate tuition will increase $174 per semester (from $4,971 to $5,145).

The Board also authorized changes in a variety of course fees and other student fees, ranging from the elimination or reduction of fees in 30 courses offered by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication; to a $35 fee for undergraduates transferring to the Kent Campus; to a $500 increase in the fee covering tuition, books and other course materials for students enrolled in the Off-Site Executive Master of Business Administration Program.

Room and Board Rates Set for Fall 2012

The Board approved an overall 3.92 percent increase in the standard, undergraduate double-room and board rates, effective Fall Semester 2012. The increases will help offset rising costs for maintenance and repairs, utilities and food products. The increases will allow the university to continue operating its high-quality 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 in the middle of comparable residential universities.

Under the new rates, a standard double-occupancy room and a full meal plan will be $4,588 a semester, an increase of $173 from the current rate of $4,415. Similar increases were instituted for other residential options, which include single and quad rooms, on-campus apartments and four other board plans.

In other actions:

  • The Board authorized a $3 million project to transform a 5,000-square-foot library within Williams Hall on the Kent Campus (home of the Department of Chemistry) into flexible laboratory space for multi-disciplinary, scientific research. The space will be accessible during major improvements that will be made in Williams, Cunningham and Smith halls during the next 3-5 years. Funding for the rehabilitation will come from campus enhancement funds, with the intent of reimbursement from future bond-revenue funds.
  • The Board created a computer science major within the bachelor of arts degree that will give students a broad, liberal arts background. The new program, which is effective Fall Semester 2012, will be offered in addition to the longstanding computer science major within the bachelor of science degree.
  • The Board appointed Dr. Todd Diacon as Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.  Diacon, who will begin serving as the university’s chief academic officer April 2, comes to Kent State from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he was deputy chancellor.  An expert in agrarian history and the history of central state power in Brazil, Diacon previously worked at the University of Tennessee from 1989-2010, where his positions included professor of history, director of the Latin American studies program and head of the history department.
  • The Board named Dr. John L. West, an internationally respected researcher in Kent State’s Department of Chemistry and the university’s former vice president for Research, to a five-year term as Trustees Research Professor, effective July 1, 2012. The professorship will include teaching, advising students, continuing research, involvement in university committees, and participation in regional business and community groups and initiatives.
  • The Board named Dr. Said Sewell as Kent State’s new dean of Undergraduate Studies, effective April 15.  Sewell joins the university from Fort Valley Stream University in Fort Valley, Ga., where he has served as executive director of the Academic Success Center and associate professor of political science since December 2009. As dean, Sewell will administer and provide leadership for programs deemed central to undergraduate student success.
  • The Board approved the recommendations in a fact-finder report issued March 9 ( that addressed unresolved issues in Kent State’s negotiations with Local 153 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Negotiations had been underway since September 2011.  Fact-finding is part of the bargaining process outlined by the State Employment Relations Board to address unresolved issues. The fact-finder recommended a three-year contract that would be effective October 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2014. The contract includes a 2-percent salary increase for each year of the contract, retroactive to Oct. 1, 2011. The fact-finder recommendations are not binding. They are submitted to both parties, each of which may choose to accept or reject the recommendations by a 3/5 vote within seven days.  Without a vote, the report findings are accepted automatically.
  • The Board endorsed the planning principles and goals developed through a process to develop a master plan to guide future facility and other land-use projects for Kent State University at Stark, which is one of Ohio’s oldest and largest public university regional campuses. The plan, which was developed with assistance from Columbus-based architectural firm Kinzelman Kline Gossman, includes a commitment to sustainability; the development of campus spaces that are welcoming to commuter students; and an enhanced presence of the campus from the street.
  • The Board granted emeritus status to Rosa Commisso, a recently retired faculty member in the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies. Emeritus status is a distinguished title that honors a faculty member’s contributions by allowing him or her continued access to university resources after retirement from the university.
  • The Board approved a resolution expressing its appreciation to Dr. Robert G. Frank, who is leaving the university to become president of his alma mater, the University of New Mexico, after serving as provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs since July 2007. As the university’s chief academic officer, Frank played a prominent role in establishing Kent State’s College of Public Health; enhancing student retention; increasing international enrollment and international-study opportunities; and implementing a highly flexible, decentralized budget model for academic units.
  • The Board unanimously conferred on iconic fashion designer Donna Karan the University Medallion, the highest honor that Kent State bestows on individuals who have contributed to the university’s well-being. In 2007, Karan founded the Urban Zen Foundation to advance wellness, preserve culture and empower children. In 2010, Karan and the Foundation entered into a ground-breaking partnership with Kent State’s College of Nursing that is teaching nursing students to focus on self-care.  The program has positioned Kent State to make Northeast Ohio a national model for the future of healthcare.
  • The Board unanimously conferred on philanthropist, arts patron and artist Roe Green the University Medallion, the highest honor that Kent State bestows on individuals who have contributed to the university’s well-being. Green, a 1980 Kent State graduate who earned a master’s degree in theatre and served on the volunteer boards of the Kent State University Foundation and the university’s Porthouse Theatre, allowed the university to construct the state-of-the-art Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre with an historic, $6.5 million gift. The center, which opened in 2010, united the university’s theatre and dance programs for the first time.

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