Board of Trustees announces presidential search committee chair and approves presidential house

Alicia Balog

Search for a new president

Kent State University Trustee Richard Marsh will head the search committee for President Lester Lefton’s successor, which was announced at Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

There are few set plans regarding the search and its timeline, Marsh said, because the committee is in its formative stage. He does not know whether the search will be public, private or a combination.

“Obviously this is a public university; we’ll do it in compliance with all those rules and regulations,” Marsh said. “At the same time, it’s important — particularly during the earlier stages of the search — to protect the confidentiality of the people that might be interested in the job in order to protect their interests as well. So it’s a weighing of those two things.”

The committee plans to hire a consultant to help, Marsh said, but hasn’t chosen anyone yet. He said he wants the committee to have diverse viewpoints — but not too many where the process would be slowed. According to university policy, the search committee for the president should be as close as possible to the following proportions: two Board members, four faculty members — including the chair of Faculty Senate and one regional faculty member, one graduate student, one undergraduate student and one alumnus or alumna. Marsh said he thinks a lot of the details will come together during the summer.

“We’ll be inviting people to give us their feedback, their comments,” he said. “There’s several ways they can do that. We expect that we’ll be setting up a website where people can access, and it may be a questionnaire or it might be an open-ended response in terms of what they’re looking for in terms of the next president.”

The presidential home

The Board also approved the establishment of Lefton’s home as Kent State’s official presidential house.

Lefton said his home has proved itself to be a good choice for the presidential home because it is impressive but not too extravagant, and it lends itself to hosting and entertaining guests.

“The Board felt it was important that the president of Kent State University live in the city of Kent,” Lefton said. “There are really only one or two neighborhoods in the city of Kent that have homes of the appropriate size. It turns out the home that I live in, that I built, is big and is made for entertaining. It was built specifically for entertaining people.”

Jane Murphy-Timken, chair of the Board, said the Board did not look into other areas because it felt Lefton’s home was an ideal space for university functions.

The university entered an agreement to lease the house from Shaker Heights attorney Edward W. Cochran. The lease, which began April 1, 2013, will last for 20 years, ending March 31, 2033, according to the agreement.

Timken said the Board agreed leasing — rather than buying — the house was the best option for the president now and for future presidents. According to the agreement, the university has a chance to stop leasing the home at the end of the sixth year and the end of every six consecutive years after that.

The Board approved an amended contract with Lefton that requires him to live in the presidential home, which replaces his old contract where he was receiving a total of $65,000 for his rent or mortgage and maintenance fees.

New student work limits

The Board also approved a revision of student employment regulations, changing the maximum number of hours a student is allowed to work per week from 32 to 28, in order to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires employers with more than 50 full-time employees to purchase health insurance for their workers or pay a tax.

As for how the act, known as “Obamacare,” will affect other university employees, such as part-time or adjunct faculty, Eric Mansfield, executive director for university media relations, said Provost Todd Diacon thinks that fewer than 50 part-time professors may be affected, and the university is looking into solutions — including possibly having those part-time professors fill empty full-time positions.

Summer construction

Other discussions during the day included construction projects that will take place throughout the summer. Gregg Floyd, senior vice president for finance and administration, and Tom Euclide, associate vice president for facilities planning and operations, discussed replacing the university library’s 40-year-old roof, as well as the roofs of Henderson, Taylor, Bowman, Nixson, Moulton and McGilvrey halls.

Construction may continue into the first few weeks of fall semester, Euclide said, but other than some noise, it shouldn’t cause problems for students.

Other items discussed during the meeting:

  • Approved the construction of a $1.2 million indoor practice facility for men’s baseball and women’s softball. According to the resolution, $600,000 has been raised for the facility so far from private donations and pledges. It will be used for the teams to train year-round.
  • Approved a resolution to follow the university’s operating budget from fiscal year 2012-2013 until the state finalizes its budget and a new budget for the university can be prepared.
  • Established a policy to provide distinguished academic ranks to exceptional faculty members.
  • Established the master of health care design degree and the master of landscape architecture I and master of landscape architecture II degrees.
  • Established an architecture and environmental design major within the master of science degree.
  • Approved resolutions to improve and upgrade the old electrical system throughout the Kent campus, to replace inefficient, old air handler units in the Main Classroom Building at Kent State at Trumbull and to expand and finish updating science laboratory facilities at Kent State at Salem.
  • Named the Kelly L. Anthony Director of Enrollment Management and Student Services Office at Kent State at Ashtabula.

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].