The top 5 stories of the semester

Hannah Kelling

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect more accurate information about President Lefton’s evaluation process.

1) Obama brings “Four More Years!” rally to Kent

It hadn’t happened since 1972, when Richard Nixon last walked through Portage County with presidential footsteps. Planning for the president’s visit began nearly three weeks before the rally Sept. 26, which brought more than just-closed parking lots to campus. Drawing students to stand in line as early as 10 p.m. the night before, despite unseasonably bitter cold and rainy weather, the president arrived at 3:30 p.m. and proceeded to address the more than 6,000 occupants of the M.A.C. Center. The audience included a number of notable figures, including May 4 victim Dean Kahler. Though some students were turned away at the door and forced to relocate, the bulging tables of umbrellas outside the M.A.C. Center door were a testament to the political enthusiasm swelling from the Kent State campus.

2) Flashes Set Bar High with MAC Championship Game

After seizing the MAC East Division title with their defeat of the Bowling Green Falcons Nov. 17, the Flashes made history. With their biggest win in 40 years, Kent State carved a 10-1 record out of steep competition under the leadership of head coach Darrell Hazell. The victory brought them to Detroit almost two weeks later, where they spent four hours wrestling Northern Illinois into double overtime. Defeated 44-37, the Flashes endured the setback with the knowledge that a bowl game invitation was on the horizon. With their third Wagon Wheel victory in a row safely behind them, a MAC Championship game under their belts, and a bowl invitation looming, the team raised the standard for next year’s season.

3) $170 Million Directed Towards Campus “Facelift” Renovations

The Kent State Board of Trustees approved a budget of $170 million in bonds over the summer to be used in renovations, directing a portion of the funds being used to transform the Kent area in coming years towards campus. Students were able to browse through the construction plans in late August at the “Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future” showcase, which left viewers alternately skeptical and hopeful. Renovations are targeted at the science and art buildings, while the technology and architecture programs will benefit from entirely new buildings. The plans were approved by the board in mid-September.

4) President Lefton Receives Bonus Despite Evaluation Concerns

In addition to his annual salary, KSU President Lester Lefton will receive his full performance bonus for the sixth year in a row, which includes a 25 percent bonus of his base salary and an additional longevity payment. The bonus, which totals $192,402, came under sharp criticism from students and faculty members when critiques by the Aldridge Group employee assessment firm came to light. The critiques included both positive and critical analyses of Lefton’s performance, but the public statement the board issued after its review left out key concerns the group raised in its original evaluation.

5) Celebrity visits

Kent State kicked off the fall semester with a visit from Grammy-Award-winning performer Sheryl Crow, drawing thousands to Dix Stadium in early September. However, as the year continued, other well-known faces would continue to pass through the throng of Kent State students. A visit by the president in the height of the campaign months, Rep. Jim Renacci’s trip to the Kent Victory Center in late October and an appearance from Mitt Romney’s son all made Daily Kent Stater headlines. Also rallying enthusiasm at the Kent campus were Olivia Munn, from HBO’s “The Newsroom” and Jack Black, musician and actor from “School of Rock.” Both stars arrived to create interest in the voting process and continued a memorable year of famous faces on campus.

Contact Hannah Kelling at [email protected].