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President speaks on university’s budget situation, conflict in Israel and Palestine

Michael Neenan
President Todd Diacon addresses the virtual audience of “Talking With Todd”
A graphic displays the revenue streams of the university, as shown in “Talking with Todd.”

The university is expected to face a $10 million budget deficit by 2027, President Todd Diacon said in his most recent session of “Talking with Todd” Tuesday. 

“This amount would be $30 million if we hadn’t dialed back spending for this fiscal year by $18.4 million,” he said.

The President’s Office and executive offices saw a 3.1% budget cut, with the Office of Academic Affairs seeing a reduced 2.7% budget cut. The Division of Enrollment Management did not receive a budget cut, with Diacon claiming it drove the university’s revenue.

Diacon places part of the blame for the deficit on the state’s two-year budget, which allocates a 1% increase this year and a 1.2% increase next year.

The university aims to have 1% of the budget left over. However, the 2023 fiscal year saw 0.2% of the budget remaining.

“You don’t have to be a mathematician nor an economist to understand that 1% increase in your state appropriation in no way keeps up with inflationary cost increases of the things that we purchase and consume,” he said.

The university saw an 11.6% increase in IT hardware and software expenditures compared to the previous year, as well as a 322% increase in the cost of casualty insurance over the past six years, Diacon said.

Diacon also said Ohio’s highly-competitive enrollment is part of the blame for the deficit.

“One enrollment Vice President in Colorado told me that ‘Ohio is an enrollment bloodbath’ and ‘the competition is fierce.’” he said.

Diacon announced the university has around 500 fewer employees than it did in 2017, which accounts for a 13% decrease. The majority of these losses came between 2017 and 2020. 

He said the university has gotten by without firing any professors despite this. 

He used the University of West Virginia, which has had to eliminate programs and fire professors in recent years, as an example to show why Kent State is still in a good place financially.

“I mean it when I say that we’re not in distress,” he said. “By many majors, we are doing fine.”

The 2024 fiscal year budget was set for $687.5 million at the Sept. 20 Board of Trustees meeting.

Diacon said the university intends to increase the efficiencies in the Division of Information Technology and the Division of Communication and Marketing without sacrificing the quality of service. He said the departments are very decentralized and that similar universities are more efficient. 

He also announced the construction of Crawford Hall is on schedule and will open to students in August 2024.

In addition, he said non-represented employees received a 3% raise for the second year.

Diacon follows up with a message about the Israel-Palestine conflict

At the start of the session, Diacon addressed the conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip. He referenced the murder of a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy in Illinois as well as the story of an Israeli citizen kidnapped by Hamas. Diacon reaffirmed that the university remains united despite divided opinions on the conflict.

“Whatever your background, your place of origin and your religion,” he said. “We really are a community that lives and works together.”

In an email sent to the university community Oct. 10, Diacon wrote:

“Like you, I have been shocked and outraged by the scenes of violence, death and destruction in Israel and the Gaza Strip following the terrorism and warfare that began this past Saturday. Scenes of adults, children and the elderly being kidnapped, bombed, held hostage and dug out of rubble remind us of the toll of historic hatreds, suspicions and rage fueled by exactly these kinds of terrible occurrences.

During moments such as these, I urge all of us to practice and follow our Kent State core values, including kindness and respect in all we do, coupled with a commitment to the freedom of expression. We can and will disagree on causes, culpability and possible solutions, but I trust that all of us will join in promoting an atmosphere of respect and peaceful dialogue.”

He also included available resources on campus.

Diacon finished Tuesday’s session by reading the poem “For All” by Gary Snyder, before taking a moment of silence.

Michael Neenan is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Michael Neenan, General Assignment Reporter
Michael is a senior journalism major with a public relations minor. He works as a reporter, covering topics from sports to university administration. Contact him at [email protected]

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  • W

    WorkformymoneyOct 20, 2023 at 9:03 am

    What if KSU stopped titling people, including secretaries, as vice president in order to give them six figure paychecks? Aren’t there about 15 VPs in the fundraising department? How many VPs does a department need? Does anyone really earn such a huge paycheck? Same question about other titles and other departments. The campus is beautiful but are flowers more important than IT security and support? Maybe native perennials instead of fancy plants that need dug up and replanted every year would save a mil? Although not disagreeing that IT could use some help. What about buses? Could more efficient cheaper smaller buses circulate campus? And the ultimate question, do sports pay thier way?

  • M

    Miss OldkentOct 18, 2023 at 10:34 am

    How about quit with the “manifest destiny” takeover and development of every square inch of campus and Kent?