Board of Trustees increases 16-credit hour cap to 18, waits to set in-state tuition

Jimmy Miller and Emily Mills

Kent State’s Board of Trustees voted to push the threshold of the credit hour cap from 16 to 18 credit hours and not raise undergraduate in-state tuition pending the release of the state budget in its meeting Thursday.

Currently, full-time students are those taking between 11 and 16 credit hours. Starting this fall, full-time students will be those taking between 12 and 18 credit hours. This eliminates the $456 per-credit-hour fee for the 17th and 18th credit hours.

“I’m here to celebrate with you, that I think it’s the right thing to do for Kent State,” said Kent State President Beverly Warren. “We reflected on students’ comments about how much the overload fee was a detriment to your progress, and so I’m celebrating with you.”

According to a university press release, this will lead to a loss of $3.1 million a year for the university. Trustees said they would put cost-cutting measures in place to make up this lost revenue.

Senior vice president for finance and administration Gregg Floyd said tuition for undergraduate in-state tuition will not increase.

“We have chosen to forego any action and any recommendation with regard to our undergraduate in-resident students,” he said.

However, university spokesman Eric Mansfield said this could change when the Ohio General Assembly releases its budget later this month.

The state has until June 30 to release its budget, and based on what it says, the Board could be forced to increase tuition for undergraduate in-state students.

For this reason, Kent State will continue with its 2014-15 budget until it receives the state’s new budget.

However, Warren said she does not foresee this increase happening.

“We will revisit. If the state passes a budget in which there’s tuition flexibility, certainly the Board needs to do its due diligence,” Warren said. “When that budget comes out, they will reconvene if there is some indication that there is a tuition increase that could be potentially possible. Personally, I don’t expect that to happen, but I think the Board would do its due diligence.”

The tuition surcharge for undergraduate out-of-state students will increase by three percent (or $120 per semester), and the graduate student tuition rate will increase by two percent (or $106 per semester).

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Regional campuses

President Warren said she plans to create a new position on her cabinet, the vice president for regional campus administration. She said Provost Todd Diacon reported this was the most common recommendation his committee heard during the 1 University Commission program.

“It’s the role that helps to coordinate the activities across all of our seven regional campuses and then to interface with the Kent campus so that we have as seamless an operation as we can, in terms of course offerings across our regional campuses,” Warren said. “Moving it to a vice president level…for us is to signify the importance of being one university, and if you’re one university, there should be a regional voice at the president’s cabinet.”

She said she wants the university system to become one university with eight different campuses that share a single vision but each maintain their own separate missions/

“There’s this tension among the Kent State community on what it means to be one university,” she said. “Are we an eight-campus system or a main campus with seven semi-autonomous regional campuses? We’re trying to become an eight-campus system.”

Board chairperson Dennis Eckart acknowledged it will be difficult to unite all eight Kent State campuses but said it can be done.

“This is talking to all eight of your children at one time and trying to find a commonality there,” he said. “I feel very comfortable that we are ahead of the curve.”

Warren said she would also like to see an eight-campus student governance structure be implemented and hopes to have it in place before the end of the 2015-16 academic year.

Branding process continues

Representatives from 160over90, an outside branding firm the university hired to help shape strategic visioning, introduced concept art for what they dubbed a “bridge campaign,” or a short-term, transitional marketing campaign to draw in next year’s set of freshmen.

The campaign will launch September 1 and is meant to begin the process of changing the university’s image before a grand launch of a new brand in January. While the future January brand is the one that’s intended to shape Kent State’s national image, the bridge campaign will also test how marketing might work in cities such as Chicago or Detroit.

“If I were to go to New Orleans, what would be our brand?” Trustee Margot Copeland asked during the conversation about expanding the national brand.

The representatives briefly described the rationale behind each creative choice in the concept, and then the Board saw initial brand art to reflect the rationale. 160over90 also brought slides with mock advertisements on billboards and digital banners.

While Kent State has used the motto “You Belong Here” in the past, some of the bridge campaign headlines read, “Where are you headed?” or “Who do you want to be?” Other mocks included the phrase, “Seeing is believing, believing is seeing,” which representatives said reflects the 80 percent of students who apply to Kent State after visiting. One eye-shaped logo also helped push the idea that those who see clearly see with 20/20 vision, hinting at the year the recruits would be set to graduate.

The campaign follows 160over90’s two months of interviewing with students, faculty and staff to find the best ways to represent Kent State. The agency unveiled a potential new vision statement at a town hall meeting in May, which read, “(To be) a community of change agents, whose collective commitment to learning sparks epic thinking, meaningful voice, and invaluable outcomes to shape our society’s future.”

Warren said she anticipates the Board will see concept art of January’s final marketing campaign at the December 7 Board meeting.

Campus construction

The Summit Street improvement project will begin late this summer. Tom Euclide, associate vice president of Facilities Planning and Operations, said the project will include adding a roundabout at the intersection of Summit Street and Campus Center Drive, expanding Summit and adding medians to create a boulevard effect and reducing the grade of the hill on Summit.

Euclide said the stretch of Summit Street that runs parallel to the university is the most dangerous stretch of road in either Portage or Summit counties.

In preparation for this project, which will take nearly three years, the university is launching a parking improvement project in conjunction with the Summit Street improvement project.

The Ceramics Studio will be torn down in the next two to three weeks, and the PARTA bus route will be shifted. Buses will drop off and pick students up at the Student Center, and then travel along a new roadway through the parking lot between Bowman and Satterfield halls, turn left on Janik Drive and turn right back onto Summit Street.

Euclide said the parking project should be done by the time students return for classes in the fall. The project will add 30 to 40 parking spaces near the MAC Center; however, the Summit Street improvement project will lead to a loss of about 300 parking spots in the Campus Center lots, for a net loss of between 260 and 270 parking spots.

Euclide cited pedestrian safety as the reason for these changes.

Allerton Apartments will also be torn down this summer. Floyd, the senior vice president for finance and administration, said half of the apartment complex was demolished two years ago, and this action will demolish the rest of the complex.

The demolition frees up more than 10 acres of potential building space for the university.


Senior vice president for enrollment management and student affairs Greg Jarvie, who retires July 31, announced the goal for fall 2015 is to have 4,250 new students in the fall freshmen class.

Currently, 4,138 new students are enrolled for fall 2015.

Jarvie said the university has officially closed admissions early for the second year in a row, but there are still many students in the middle of the application and enrollment process, so he said he believes the university will meet its goal.


Clothing company Under Armour will replace current vendor Nike as Kent State’s athletics uniform vendor for its sports teams.

Kent State and Under Armour signed a seven-year contract with the possibility of three one-year extensions for a total of 10 years.

The switch, which prevents athletes from wearing Nike shoes, will start with the basketball teams late in the fall semester. The football team will still play in Nike uniforms this season.

Athletic director Joel Nielsen said Under Armour was also interested in selling merchandise in the university bookstore.

In addition, elevator manufacturer Otis will continue to be the vendor for Kent State’s elevators and escalators, United Insurance will continue to provide student health insurance and food services company Sodexo will continue to serve as Kent State’s food services vendor.

Other business

The Board also voted to approve the business analytics degree within the master’s of science in the Department of Management and Information Systems in the College of Business Administration. Faculty Senate approved the major for Board voting at its May 11 meeting.

The major, which will be available in fall 2016, will look at how big data can be used to make businesses more competitive.

After a unanimous vote, the Board ruled international students are required to have health insurance in order to attend Kent State.

Finally, the Board approved a policy change stating those voting on employees’ promotion or tenure cannot vote for them if they already voted at a lower level of review. In addition, spouses and relatives of those applying for promotion or tenure cannot be present at deliberations.

The promotion and tenure process, along with Provost Todd Diacon, has recently been called into question. Pan-African studies professor George Garrison has called for a vote of no-confidence against Diacon after he denied a School of Art professor tenure.

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected], and contact Emily Mills at [email protected].