Esplanade to honor departing KSU President Lester Lefton

Julie Myers

Kent State’s Board of Trustees announced Friday the newly completed Esplanade will be named after President Lester Lefton.

Jane Murphy Timken, chair of the Kent State Board of Trustees, made the announcement at the Esplanade Dedication and Grand Opening event.

“There could not be a more fitting tribute to President Lefton than naming the Esplanade, which now physically and symbolically connects town and gown, in his honor,” Timken said. “With a clear vision, a commitment to excellence and unshakable optimism, Dr. Lefton has led Kent State to new heights of achievement in areas from academic quality to fundraising to international programs.”

However, Timken said his affect on Kent State and the Kent community did not stop there.

“His successful efforts to help forge a new era of cooperation between the university and the city of Kent, make Kent one of America’s best college towns and to transform Kent State’s campuses into 21st century learning environments — environments that cultivate student success now and for decades to come — will surely stand among his crowning contributions,” she said.

University spokeswoman Emily Vincent echoed Timken’s opinion of the new name.

“Personally, I think it’s a wonderful tribute and very fitting to name the Esplanade after President Lefton,” Vincent said. “This is one of the many significant contributions he’s made during his presidency, and I think he was very, very touched when it was announced today. He was surprised. Only a handful of people knew this was going to be announced today.”

The name will be made official during the next Board of Trustees meeting, Vincent said.

Justin Hilton, senior associate vice president for University Relations, said the Board of Trustees made a great decision, honoring President Lefton in such a way that he actually became emotional.

“I thought it was absolutely fitting,” Hilton said. “It really is sort of a crown jewel for him, and everybody felt that same way. I think that’s why the Board of Trustees decided to really sort of bestow upon him this honor. It really, really, really meant a lot to him. He emotionally responded, which is rare. I just think it was fabulous.”

The newly titled Esplanade already has a nickname thanks to Dave Ruller, Kent City Manager. He referred to the walkway as the “Lesplanade” soon after the naming was announced.

Lefton is Kent State’s eleventh president, and he began his career with the Flashes in 2006. Under his presidency, the Esplanade was created with the Foundations of Excellence initiative, a collection of projects including new building development and building upgrades so that students, faculty, staff and all others can enjoy the campuses.

The Esplanade was open for pedestrian access in early August and now serves as a link from the university to the city and vice versa.

Contact Julie Myers at [email protected].