Warren discusses initiatives at town hall meeting


President Beverly Warren address questions at the Town Hall meeting on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016 in the Student Center Ballroom Balcony.

Zachary Ezzone

Kent State President Beverly Warren further explained the new branding initiative and answered questions from faculty and students at an open meeting on Monday afternoon.

Warren elaborated on the new strategic vision, along with its mission statement and core values. She also talked about the five priorities the university will focus on in order to achieve its goals.

The priorities involved are: Students First, a Distinctive Kent State, Globally Competitive, Regional Impact and Organizational Stewardship. Each priority is a broad statement supported by more specific initiatives that, when carried out, will promote each priority overall purpose.

For example, one of the initiatives supporting the Students First priority is to “align the undergraduate educational experience to focus on purposeful and essential learning outcomes.”

Warren said First Year Experience students should not only declare a major, but find a mission for their purpose in life. She said the declaration provides students with a life of meaning rather than just a job with a high wage.

The other four priorities are equally important. The Distinctive Kent State priority is to make the university a unique and innovative place through research programs, which include the recruitment and support of talented faculty and staff.

The goal of Global Competitiveness is to advance Kent State as a leading international university, while the Regional Impact is more focused on engaging with partners in the region and state. Lastly, the Organizational Stewardship priority is focused on ensuring a culture of continuous improvement through efficient management of resources.

Warren said the university’s current funds alone will not be enough to support the roadmap that has been laid out. However, she said there is great opportunity in fundraising and that anybody in the community has the potential to contribute.

“People want to give to a cause they can believe in,” Warren said. “And I think there is no better cause than Kent State University.”

Warren also explained how the phrase “Undeniably Kent State” is not a slogan or a tagline, but rather the feelings, emotion and core values that make the university a community. She also said the phrase is a reintroduction to the world of what Kent State is.

Warren discusses university initiatives at Town Hall from KentWired.com on Vimeo.

Once the meeting opened up for questions, Warren was asked about some of the ways the university is going to measure its success with these new ideas and priorities. Some of the benchmarks Warren responded with include an 85 percent retention rate, 65 percent graduation rate, double the research that is currently being done and a 75 percent response rate on the climate survey students, faculty and staff will be asked to participate in.

Warren also said the university is already largely successful in many areas and part of the plan is to highlight those already known top academic programs. She said the intention of doing so is not to be braggadocios, but instead to share with the world the great work that is currently being done at Kent State.

Warren was not the only person answering questions on the university’s behalf. In response to a question of what Kent State is going to do to strengthen diversity and cultural competency, Alfreda Brown, vice president for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, provided elaboration.

There is a collaborative effort between the divisions of diversity, equity and inclusion, student affairs and academic affairs to help diverse students become more successful and close the gap that currently separates them from the majority of students, she said.

“It’s a University outreach where we’re paying close attention to the needs of students and ensuring that the students get what they need,” Brown said.

Kevin Heller, a senior conservation major and executive director of the Commuter and Off-Campus Student Organization, wanted to instead share some insight on what makes Kent State a special place in his mind.

Heller said the university provided him with a future he didn’t know he had. He said he always felt like a part of the Kent State community despite always being a commuter student and never living on campus. The university has helped him figure out who he is, he said.

“(Kent State) helped define my idea of what it means to be an American,” Heller said. “You don’t have to fit the mold of what people tell you to be.”

Zachary Ezzone is an administration reporter at The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]