New university commission aims to unite campuses


Data Collected From RPIE

Hanna Moore

Kent State faculty and staff members from all eight campuses began meeting to discuss a new program, One University Commission.

President Beverly Warren and Provost Todd Diacon headed the commission, aiming for more collaboration between all campuses.

“As I learned about our eight-campus system, it appeared to me that it would help us immensely if we formed a commission to really address our collaboration as one university,” Warren said at the Sept. 8 Faculty Senate meeting.

Distance learning expansion

The commission met Sept. 25, and has since divided into sub-committees, which will continue to work during this semester until early 2015, when they will meet again to present their findings to Warren, Diacon said.

“The One University Commission really grew out of the need to come up with some practical solutions to some friction points that were generated over the years by the expansion of distance learning,” Diacon said. “That has made us rethink, in a budgetary sense, how we allocate funding to the Kent campus and to the regional campuses.”

The commission aims to solve distance learning issues, including reimbursing campuses for online classes, deciding which campuses will offer certain online classes and better preparing professors who are teaching them.

Online enrollment at all-time high

Kent’s online enrollment is at an all-time high with a record of 16,604–more than 40 percent of all students–taking at least one class online, according to Research, Planning and Institutional Advancement data. That number is up 8.9 percent from last year’s number of 15,251 students.     

“There have been processes that are somewhat dated for the era in which we live,” Warren said. “As the RCM model of budgeting and as distance learning continues to grow and evolve, we need policies and procedures that will help students matriculate seamlessly, will help faculty work as colleagues across teaching and learning environments as well as across research strands.”

Campuses collaborate

The One University Commission is made up of 32 faculty, staff and students from all eight campuses. It focuses on issues concerning structure and leadership, academics and curriculum, faculty responsibilities and student experiences, Diacon said.

  • One University Commission is made up of 32 faculty, staff and students from all eight campuses.
  • Kent’s online enrollment is at an all-time high with 40 percent of all students taking at least one online class.
  • The committees will continue to work during this semester until early 2015, when they will meet to discuss their findings.

Faculty Senate Chair Lee Fox-Cardamone, an associate professor at Kent Stark, works on the faculty responsibilities committee and said she has seen some disconnect between the Kent and regional campuses, as well as between different regional campuses.

“I’m not always sure that regionals know what other regionals do or what Kent campus does, or that Kent campus knows what the regionals are doing,” Fox-Cardamone said. “When you have some clarity in terms of policy and procedures, it is helpful because everyone is working from the same playbook.”

The commission will try to decide the appropriate name for a dean of a regional campus and will look into student experiences on regional campuses, Diacon said.

“One of the goals of the commission is to have people stop referring to Kent campus as the “main campus” and to stop saying “Kent campus and the regionals,” he said. “We’re not equal in the sense that we don’t do everything the same, but we value all our campuses equally.”

The plan for more collaboration between campuses has been in the works since before Warren took office but officially started once she began, Diacon said.

“President Warren’s listening tour, I feel like, gave a real shot in the arm to our work,” Diacon said. “She made it a priority to get us to think about Kent State as one university, so we’re thinking about us as a collection of very great campuses.”

If the commission can work together to unify each campus, Fox-Cardamone said, the university would benefit.

“We are a powerhouse in the state and potentially in the world,” she said. “So having a unified identity could possibly help that.”

Contact Hanna Moore at [email protected].