Lefton comments on enrollment, retention at Faculty Senate meeting


Faculty listen to Provost Todd Diacon speak at the Faculty Senate meeting in the Governance Chambers on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013. Photo by Chloe Hackathorn.

Katie Smith

Kent State President Lester Lefton addressed the Faculty Senate at Monday’s monthly meeting to give his expectations for the university in the years to come.

Lefton said enrollment has increased, and retention for the university has now reached the 70-percent range.

“This is of course our biggest challenge over the next decade, which is not to increase the size of the freshman class but to increase our retention and graduation rate,” Lefton said.

Lefton continued by citing the importance of retaining students.

“Our graduation rate is highly tied to retention, and our retention is highly tied to what happens in the first 10 weeks of school, and in my opinion, it’s what happens in the first six weeks of school that determines what retention looks like at the end of the year,” Lefton said.

In addition to addressing graduation and retention rates, he also commented on the status of the ongoing presidential search.

“I am as in the dark about everything as you,” he said.

However, one thing Lefton is certain of is the necessity of technology for the university to continue successfully educating students.

“We’re going to be using technology, whatever it might happen to be, to discover, to learn and to teach,” Lefton said.

Lefton said he urges faculty to embrace future advances in technology when they see them coming.

“As faculty members and as educators,” Lefton said, “we have to be thinking about how to implement technology — broadly defined — in different ways.”

Pan-African Studies professor George Garrison agreed with Lefton and added Kent State “should encourage its own scientists to participate in this phenomenon because it not only helps them with their research, but it also enhances the prestige and reputation of this university.”

The meeting also discussed the Higher Learning Commission, “which is one of six regional accreditors that commissions our credits, universities of our scope and size,” said Fashaad Crawford, assistant provost for accreditation, assessment and learning.

“The commission this year will be visiting our campus around April 2 to 4,” Crawford said.

There are certain projects Kent State must satisfy in order to be reaffirmed including a self-study, federal compliance documents, a quality check-up where the HLC will visit, a system appraisal report and a strategy forum, Crawford said. Kent State will be notified around Nov. 2014 about its reaffirmation.

Faculty Senate’s next meeting will be at 3:20 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Governance Chambers.

Contact Katie Smith at [email protected].