Reception celebrates Lefton’s presidency

Kent State President Lester Lefton at his retirement reception.

Kent State President Lester Lefton at his retirement reception.

Elizabeth Randolph

The Board of Trustees, faculty, staff members and students helped honor Kent State President Lester Lefton at his retirement reception Friday.

Lefton’s reception in the Student Center Ballroom highlighted the accomplishments of his eight-year presidency, which ends July 1 when he will retire.  

Board of Trustee member Jane Murphy Timken said in a video that was shown at the event that Lefton has always remained dedicated to students and the university.

“He’s someone who is passionate about students and education,” Timken said. “Without his leadership and passion for Kent State, it wouldn’t be what it is today.”

Evan Gildenblatt, special assistant for Federal Relations, was one of the speakers at the ceremony. Gildenblatt said that the transformations that Lefton has made to the university would always be remembered.

“Dr. Lefton will be sorely missed,” Gildenblatt said. “His legacy will definitely continue on for many years.”

Performance graduate student Keying An said the reception was a great way to honor the president and to show guests the things he accomplished during his time here.

“I didn’t know that the president did so much in eight years,” An said. “The reception was an amazing way to celebrate him and everything he’s done for us as students.”

Among Lefton’s accomplishments, according to the press release, are “record student enrollment, retention and graduation numbers; the town-gown partnership that resulted in the revitalization of downtown Kent; the university’s Centennial Campaign that raised a record-breaking $265 million” and the “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future” construction program.

Integrated social studies major Nick Coleman wasn’t one of the students who attended Lefton’s reception, as he, along with several other students, were protesting the event outside of the Student Center. Coleman said that he and the other protesters didn’t want to let Lefton leave peacefully.

“We plan to protest Lefton’s policies as far as tuition drops and fiscal policies,” Coleman said. “We are also dissatisfied with the university’s willingness to cooperate with students’ interests and the sanctions it has on student organizations.”

Coleman said the university is also to blame for the rise of tuition rates and won’t take responsibility for it.

“The university constantly blames the state for the rise in tuition when it’s really them,” Coleman said. “They use both the state and the students as scapegoats and don’t allow students to voice their dissent of these issues.”

During his speech at the end of the reception, Lefton said the university still has a lot of progress to make.

“No university is perfect. It took Kent State 102 years to get where we are today,” Lefton said. “We still have work to do to make the next 100 years even better than the first. The future of Kent is brilliant.”

Lefton said during his speech that he would never forget his time at Kent State and the students, faculty and staff members that are a part of the university.

“This is supposed to be a celebration for my retirement, but it’s really a celebration of all of you,” Lefton said. “You have enriched my life and my family’s lives. You will always have a piece of my heart.”               

Contact Elizabeth Randolph at [email protected].