New policy to award qualified students with associate’s degrees this spring

Provost Todd Diacon speaks at the Faculty Senate meeting, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014.

Nicholas Sewell

Students who have not yet finished their four-year bachelor’s degree may be awarded an associate’s degree at the end of the semester.

Provost Todd Diacon announced Monday at the monthly Faculty Senate meeting that Kent State will award students an associate’s degree when they complete the requirements on the way to their bachelor’s degree. In turn, the university will be eligible for additional state funding.

Wanda Thomas, associate provost at Kent State, said students can obtain an associate’s degree if they have 15 credit hours of Kent core classes and 30 credit hours within their major. Thomas said the associate degrees, undergraduate degrees given upon completion in a course of study usually lasting two years, would be awarded according to the number of credit hours a student accumulates not the completion of specific classes.

“When students leave having earned the associate’s degree, but not the bachelor’s, at least now it will be clear to them what they need to do to earn the bachelor’s degree and maybe obtaining the degree will seem more possible,” Diacon said.

Currently, students attending Kent State’s main campus cannot apply directly for an associate’s degree.  Diacon said this might change with this new policy in a few years.

He also said that students who have already completed the requirements for an associate’s degree will receive it at the end of this semester.

At the university’s main campus, 48 percent of first time, full-time freshman students graduate and earn a bachelor’s degree within six years.  With this new policy, Diacon believes freshman students who may otherwise leave the campus, may instead choose to stick around in order to earn their associate’s degree.

Diacon explained that the university is also implementing this policy to gain more state funding. He explained that if Kent State does not decide to award the associate’s degree and other Ohio universities do, then Kent State will lose out money the State of Ohio plans to give public universities, which currently totals $700 million dollars.

“I personally believe there is a good reason to do this for all of our students,” Diacon said.

The majority of the Senate members in attendance were satisfied with this new policy.

“I really like this idea because it creates a milestone for students,” Deborah Knapp, faculty senator and associate professor of management and information systems said. “Young people think that four years is a very long time, and this marks the halfway point, and they get recognition for reaching that point.”

During the meeting the Faculty Senate also approved a policy to reduce the minimum credit hours required to graduate with an undergraduate degree from 121 hours to 120 hours for a bachelor’s degree and from 61 hours to 60 hours for an associate’s degree.  This policy will take place beginning fall 2014.

The senate’s next meeting will take place March 10 at 3:20 p.m. in the Governance Chambers of the Student Center.

Contact Nicholas Sewell at [email protected].