Trustees approve leasing DuBois to KSU, campus renovations

Kent State’s Board of Trustees approved at its Wednesday meeting the leasing of DuBois Book Store from the Portage Port Authority. The university says it will use the DuBois site temporarily to house construction materials while the College of Architecture and Environmental Design is constructed along the Esplanade.

Emily Vincent, director of University Media Relations, said the rate on the 3.75-acre property’s 15-year lease would be $20,000 to $25,000 a month for the university. The bookstore closed unexpectedly in summer 2011 after being a Kent mainstay for almost 75 years.

President Lester Lefton said the property is a strategic investment for Kent State past its initial use as a site to house construction materials.

“What it might ultimately be used for, we’re not exactly sure,” Lefton said. “But given its proximity to our campus and some of our key academic buildings, we don’t want a Walmart to spring up there. It wouldn’t be consistent with the aesthetic of the Esplanade or of campus.”

Lefton said the university has the right to demolish the bookstore itself, but it doesn’t plan on doing so yet.

The board also approved the establishment of a legal entity in Brazil, which will be a person or office recruiting more Brazilian students to come to Kent State.

Provost Todd Diacon presented the proposal to the Academic Excellence and Student Success Committee earlier Wednesday morning and explained how it would help the recruiting and diversifying of international students.

“It’s exactly the right place to be if we want to expand our recruitment efforts into the Americas,” Diacon said.

The provost said the entity would be located in the wealthy city of Curitiba in the southern part of Brazil instead of the cities São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro because many American universities try to recruit students from those areas.

“Curitiba gives us access to a market we want to be in, but it gets us out of the two cities where we’d be fighting against multiple players, whereas we’ll be mostly the only game in town in, again, a wealthy city in a wealthy part of Brazil,” Diacon said.

Lefton said Kent State currently has about 20 Brazilian students, but the university would be happy to double or triple that number with some recruiting.

“We have campuses in Europe and in Asia,” Lefton said. “We have recruiting offices in India and China. The one place that we really have not made strategic investments are in the Americas.”

Lefton was not sure how long it would take to set up the Brazil entity, but he said it could take about three months. The trustees also asked Diacon to present them with a summary of the strategic three-year plan for creating this office at the March meeting.

Other business items approved at Wednesday’s meeting include:

  • the construction of new locker rooms for the field hockey, women’s soccer and men’s and women’s track teams. The locker rooms will be an addition to the field house, Athletic Director Joel Nielsen said, and will comply with NCAA and Title 9 regulations.

“I’ve learned in this business it’s the right thing to do, whether it’s Title 9 or not,” he said.

The project is expected to be done by Spring 2014 and will cost the university $4.5 million.

“We’ve got women who don’t have locker rooms, we’ve got men’s sports teams who are sharing with women’s sports teams … It is absolutely embarrassing. For an athletic [power] like Kent State, this is embarrassing,” Lefton said.

  • the establishment of a construction management major within the Bachelor of Science degree in the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology.
  • the $5.9 million renovation of the Olson Center for Undergraduate Studies. The building will be the combined home of the Academic Success Center and the Center for Undergraduate Studies.
  • the hiring of an outside project manager for the Foundations of Excellence campaign to revamp and construct buildings on campus through a $170 million bond approved at the Board of Trustees meeting in September. The project manager is The Ruhlin Company.
  • the renovation of the M.A.C. Center Annex for classroom and office space. The annex will host students and faculty from the colleges whose buildings are being constructed or renovated during the bond-related project.
  • the renovation of Tri-Towers previously approved in Fall 2011, which had to be reapproved because of a new funding plan. The project will be completed during the next two summers and cost $30 million.
  • the upgrade of the community restrooms in Prentice Hall to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The project will cost $2.6 million and will be completed during Summer 2013.
  • the upgrade of the air-conditioning systems in Clark, Manchester and Fletcher halls. The project will cost $6.895 million and will be completed during Summer 2013.

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected] and Carrie Blazina at [email protected].