State of the University addresses race relations, research


President Beverly Warren makes a statement about the reopening of LaunchNET at Kent State on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 in the Student Center. 

Lydia Taylor

In the wake of recent conflicts surrounding race nationally and on campus, Kent State President Beverly Warren addressed the importance of diversity and social climate Thursday in her State of the University address.           

“We’ve had the SALSA incident at the homecoming parade, (and) our Black United Students have fulfilled that there’s not enough attention to the loss of young, black lives,” Warren said in a statement after the speech.

The university community gathered in the Kent State Student Center Kiva to hear Warren’s aspirations for the university. She told the packed room her visions for the university: a culture for innovation and research, a decrease in disparity and a re-imagined public research university.

Warren said it is important to address the disparity between student groups. It’s the university’s responsibility to make sure all students are successful and feel supported, she said.

Warren’s Dynamic Engagement and Education of Diverse Students is her initiative to bridge the gap in the student body disparity.

The program started at the beginning of Fall 2016 through student organizations, and helps bring attention to academic success, campus climate and the quality of education, Warren said.  

Warren emphasized the need to create a re-imagined public research university. Her hopes are to focus on the personal financial struggles students endure, and the overwhelming cost of a college education.

“The challenges students in this country face are not solely financial challenges,” Warren said. “I suggest that college costs and the very real problem of growing student debt are outcomes — or results — of an incomplete higher education agenda.”

Warren said it is important to not let the cost of an education deprive a student of success and a fulfilling career. This can lead to obtaining a spot as one of the nation’s largest research universities and to have graduates with skills for their careers along with understanding the importance of financial comfort.

Her vision of the Kent State Promise embarks on the phrase “Illumination Above All,” which is supposed to be a guidepost to remind the community why Kent State grows in the national spotlight.

Warren described how Kent State can reach a high level of illumination within the university: to create a culture of research and innovation.

She told the crowd about the launch of the Brain Health Research Initiative and its versatile topics of study: neurosciences, psychological sciences and exercise sciences.

Along with these innovations, Warren spoke about another new construction project — a design corridor that will connect to the Integrated Sciences building.

The vision was inspired by the new Center for Architecture and Environmental Design building, which was named as one of the 11 iconic cultural structures in the world by The New York Times.

“What would it be like to make a distinctive Kent State contribution by building a bridge between our diverse capacity design and our strengths in the sciences?” Warren asked. “Clearly, design is playing the role today that the field of engineering played in the last century.”

Warren said combining the sciences with design will create an innovation ecosystem, where the two areas will work together, instead of just intersect.

The rapid changes will be costly projects, which led to Warren’s final announcement: Kent State’s initiation of its largest comprehensive campaign.

“In the coming months, we will complete our case statement, which calls for an ‘all-in’ engagement around the reasons why contributions to Kent State will advance our unique brand of transformation, innovation and elevation,” Warren said. “All ideas are welcomed.”

Contact Lydia Taylor at [email protected].