Board approves increased room and board rate, faculty contract

Leighann McGivern

The Kent State Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to approve a 3.9 percent increase for room and board rates effective for the Fall 2013 semester and a new contract for full-time non-tenure track faculty members, effective through August 2016.

The Board also approved giving President Lester Lefton the full value of his performance bonus of $104,450, which is 25 percent of his $417,799.68 salary. Jane Timken, chair of the Board of Trustees, said the Board conducted its own evaluation of Lefton in which he proposed his own goals and metrics.

“We then reviewed his performance based on those goals and metrics, and the Board came to the conclusion that President Lefton is exceeding or meeting all of those goals and metrics and is well deserving of his full-performance bonus,” Timken said.

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Timken cited campus renovations, record enrollment and the university’s financial state and increased graduation rate by 13 percent as factors in the Board’s decision.

“I think [Lefton’s] vision and leadership has been outstanding, and we are highly pleased with his performance,” Timken said.

As part of the room and board rate increase, the standard double-room rate will be increased by 3.89 percent from $2,828 to $2,938, while the basic board rate will increase by 3.98 percent from $1,760 to $1,830. The recommendation given to the board cited extensive renovations and an anticipated increase in food commodities in the coming year by the consumer price index as reasons for the increase, among other factors.

The university has been in negotiations with the Kent State chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the union that represents all full-time faculty at Kent State’s eight campuses, since July 2012. The new contract, effective from August 16, 2013 to 12:01 a.m. on August 16, 2016, applies to all Kent campus and regional campus full-time non-tenure track faculty members of AAUP-KSU. The Board also ratified a memorandum that allows all existing terms and conditions of employment to remain in effect from the time the prior agreement expired until the new agreement takes effect.

Other proposals approved at the meeting include:

  • A new Masters of Fashion degree, which will begin enrolling students for Fall 2013, pending approval by the Ohio Board of Regents. The 30-credit degree will be the first in the U.S. to offer a “titled fashion degree that is grounded in practice-based, practice-led and research-through-practice methodologies devoted to the fashion context,” according to the proposal presented to the Board.
  • Ohio’s only fully online doctoral program in nursing, also pending approval by the Ohio Board of Regents. According to the proposal, the program will use a variety of technologies to provide online instruction, including web conferencing and share technology. It will also require students to spend two weeks per academic year on campus.
  • Establishment of a dance studies major within the Bachelor of Arts degree. The major will be a complement to the dance major within the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, which will provide dance students two degree options based on their interests and career goals. The new major will focus on students interested in dance instruction and choreography rather than performance.
  • Establishment of a psychology major within the Bachelor of Science degree to complement the major’s existing Bachelor of Arts degree. This major would focus on research and experimental areas of psychology and related fields such as medicine and neuroscience.
  • Inactivation of the justice studies program. Admissions to the program have been suspended for the past two years due to a lack of enrollment.
  • A 3.9 percent tuition increase for the Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine for the 2013-14 academic year, which is not subject to the tuition caps proposed in the State’s Executive Budget.
  • A $1.45 million 200-car parking lot to be constructed north of the Liquid Crystal and Materials Science Building and east of Henderson Hall, which will include the construction of an improved loading dock, site lighting and pedestrian walkways. This new lot will replace parking spaces in the science corridor that will be lost when the university begins construction on a new building for the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology.

The Board and Lefton also discussed the possibility of funding being cut for remedial coursework and how the university would respond if it is.

“We’re really not going to be cutting remedial classes,” Lefton said. “We’ll probably be reconfiguring the classes that are necessary to help our students succeed and thinking about alternative ways to ensure student success.”

As for the proposed legislation that would require all full-time faculty at public universities in Ohio to teach an additional class if the university changes its course distribution, Lefton said Kent State likely wouldn’t be affected.

“It’s really important that we recognize that one size does not fit all and that the proposal about workload and teaching that is appropriate at Central State is not necessarily appropriate at Ohio State or at Kent State University,” Lefton said. “A one-size-fit-all solution to workload is really best left to the deans and department chairs and even the Board of Trustees rather than a legislative body that doesn’t really have a nuanced view of how each individual institution operates.”

Matt Lofgren contributed to reporting.

Contact Leighann McGivern at [email protected].