KSU holds last open forum for dean of students candidates

Lamar Hylton, Ph.D. will replace Shay Little as interim vice president for student affairs. 

Lamar Hylton, Ph.D. will replace Shay Little as interim vice president for student affairs. 

Alicia Krynock

Kent State held its final open forum Thursday evening for students and faculty to meet Lamar Hylton, one of three candidates in the running to become the next dean of students.

Hylton is currently the assistant vice provost for Student Life at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. As part of his duties, he oversees fraternity and sorority life, off-campus living and multicultural student engagement.

Before working at the University of Minnesota, he served as the director of the Intercultural Center and Office of Multicultural Student Programs at the University of North Carolina — Asheville.

Hylton received his Ph. D. in higher educationadministration from Morgan State University, where he wrote his dissertation “The Impact of Student-Faculty Interaction on Academic Achievement and College Satisfaction for Black Males Attending Predominately White Institutions.”

Kent State presently reports about 71 percent of its students as caucasian, with African-American students making up only 8 percent of the student body.

“We really have to be thoughtful about how we embrace our diversity and inclusion efforts,” Hylton said.

The importance of diversity and creating an inclusive community was a key point during Hylton’s open discussion with students, where he promised to put them as his top priority. 

“Students first means ensuring that your experiences here are inclusive,” he said. “They affirm the identities that you bring to this institution and that you are able to cultivate your own sense of belonging.”

He emphasized throughout his presentation the importance of developing a community that engages students to best serve their interests.

Hylton also highlighted his work at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities, where he organized specific events for commuter students and helped to foster a sense of community within the university across all groups of students through events and candid discussions.

He is also involved in the Huntley House, a living-learning community for African-American men at Minnesota. His job entails meeting with students to discuss problems they are facing and empowering them to “own your seat” at the university and “bring all of yourself to every situation.”

Hylton urges students to voice to their experiences so whoever is selected as dean of students, as well as the university, can create useful and applicable policies. He cited his open-door policy, which includes welcoming students to voice their concerns any time in his office.

“I can’t be holed up in my office and be the dean of students,” he said. ”I have to be in the spaces and places that you are in.”

His desire is to form a personal connection with every student, he said, and really work to make them feel like they’re not just a number in the university’s roster.

“You’re not going to trust me because I’m the dean of students … have a Ph.D. behind my name … (or) because of the technical experiences I bring to this campus. You’re going to trust me because you’ve seen me in action,” Hylton said. “I’ll be at your programs, I’ll see you across campus, and I’m going to stop you and ask you what’s going on.”

The open forum addressed many issues, such as a decreasing retention rate of African-American students at Kent State, the increase in tuition costs and concerns stemming from the general climate toward international students, immigrants and minorities.

His discussion focused on building a community for student groups and constructing a safe and welcoming space for all students.

“And it can’t just be lip-service,” Hylton said, adding to his point to develop open and honest discussions about the diversity and inclusion efforts of the university.

Kent State’s Division of Student Affairs began its national search for candidates last November. The three selected candidates each held open forums this past week.

On Tuesday, candidate James Hintz, director of Leadership and Professional Development Initiative at Purdue University, had the opportunity to meet with students and start off the open forums.

Michael Shutt took the stage Wednesday to discuss his plans for Kent State and history as senior director for community at Emory University.

Students are encouraged to voice their support for Lamar Hylton or any other candidate with Candidate Feedback Survey, and have the opportunity to view their full biographies and resumes online.

Alicia Krynock is the architecture and environmental design reporter, contact her at [email protected].