President Warren looks to transformation in her last State of the University address

President Beverly Warren receives a standing ovation following her State of the University Address on November 7, 2018. Warren quotes her favorite Broadway Musical regarding her sentiment about her presidency at Kent State University for the last four years, “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

President Beverly Warren reflected on her last full year at Kent State and looked toward the future in her last State of the University address Wednesday.

The Kent State community filled the KIVA to hear Warren’s final SOTU after she announced two weeks ago that she would depart from the university in July.

Warren wore Kent State on her sleeve, literally. She donned a jacket created by Linda Ohrn-McDaniel, a Kent State textiles professor. The jacket had words inspired by Kent State on it, such as “students-first.”

“The jacket, like its creator, is undeniably Kent State,” Warren said. “The words, our mission, our vision and our core values are literally woven throughout this entire fabric.”

Laina Yost, a senior journalism major and KentWired’s enterprise editor, introduced Warren by talking about her legacy and referenced her openness towards Kent’s community.

“From the bottom of my heart, Bev, I thank you for your support, for your kindness and for your respect,” Yost said. “I can’t imagine a Kent State University without you, and I’m sure the university community joins me in wishing you all the best.”

Warren emphasized Kent State’s student-first mentality that supports student passions and purposes. She also congratulated faculty and students on their accomplishments and award wins over the past year.

Tameka Ellington, an associate professor in the Fashion school, was one of eight faculty members recognized. Ellington was awarded The Rising Star Award by The International Textile and Apparel Association for her achievements.

“I’ve been at Kent State now for about 13 years, and she’s the first president that actually knew my name, that actually knew who I was,” Ellington said,. “It meant a lot to me that she recognized all the hard work that I’ve been trying to do and all the research.”

Warren also mentioned a record setting $44 million fundraising campaign. The money goes towards new scholarships, endowments and other university needs. She also celebrated the approval of the 10-year, $1 billion Master Plan for Kent’s campus.

Warren spoke about the record-breaking graduation rates and the 5,758 baccalaureate degrees awarded this year.

Kent State has a new Global Experience in Brazil with the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná and a new partnership with Akron Public Schools and the Lebron James Foundation to focus on preparing students for college.

Ashtabula was also recognized for starting a partnership with Laurello Vineyards in order to expand the wine degree program.

Warren referenced her time at Kent State as the most gratifying and fulfilling work of her career, as this is the last time she will stand in front of the community for the State of the University Address.

She said she hopes the university can shed the fear of evolution and embrace what is next to help students. One change Warren highlighted is the Kent Core.

“We can not force a 1998 curriculum on a 2018 student,” Warren said. “One might say, we do not want to be Sears and Roebuck in an Amazon world. When we support our students as they find security in the new world, we will engineer new security for ourselves. Kent State will rise by graduating students fully prepared to lead in our chaotic, complex and interconnected world.”

As Warren neared the end of her speech, she referenced the song “For Good” from the Broadway Musical, Wicked,  and said she has changed for the better after knowing Kent State.

“That enduring sense home is why I feel such optimism for the future of this year,” Warren said. “Presidents come and go, but the community feels like what home offers you.”

Warren reminded the Kent State community that the power of transformation does not reside in the university president but with its faculty, staff and students.

Throughout the speech, Warren had tears in her eyes as she thanked the university community and said she would always support Kent State.

“I will always believe in you, always stand with you and never doubt your ability to lead nor your capacity for innovation and transformation, as you guide this special university toward its brightest future,” she said. “We are Kent State. You are Kent State. And Kent State, indeed, is in very good hands.”

Rachel Hale is the administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected]. Morgan Hallam is the recruiting and retention reporter. Contact her at [email protected].