Kent State hopes to get state money

Rex Santus

With $400 million worth of campus renovation and maintenance needs, the Kent State administration will be grateful for any sum of money afforded to them by the capital budget, said Tom Euclide, associate vice president of facilities at the university.

Gov. John Kasich has charged a committee, headed by The Ohio State University president Gordon Gee and populated by other public university officials in Ohio, to work together to decide which universities deserve how much money from the capital budget.

The committee plans to dole out $350 million of capital money to the 37 public colleges and universities statewide for what they consider the most worthwhile renovation projects. Each university has to submit a “wish list” to the committee by Feb. 15.

The university planned to repay its 2010 bond proposal by increasing student fees per credit hour starting in 2013. The state, however, disapproved of the repayment method because of the ever-increasing costs of higher education. The university is currently reassessing those projects in hopes that it won’t have to look to its students to repay its debt, Euclide said.

“That’s where we stand right now,” Euclide said. “We have a capital plan that looks at maintaining our facilities and moving us forward in proper areas like the sciences … to accelerate the areas we know Northeast Ohio is currently leading [academically] in the state.”

In years past, each university had a general idea of how much capital money would be available to it, Euclide said. The new system was designed to “ensure that the limited capital resources from the state are all wisely spent to further the state’s mission in economic development, student education, workforce development and creating graduates that help Ohio move forward.

“All of those things are important to putting Ohio’s universities on the map and furthering the development of Ohio as a leader in the types of education people need to get productive jobs,” Euclide said. “That’s what we’re looking at is matching our capital plan now with ensuring that the things that we request match what was envisioned by the governor as leading the state to success.”

Kent State has not received any capital funding for university improvements since 2010, Euclide said.

President Lester Lefton declined an interview on the subject but said in an emailed response that he’d have more to share once “decisions have been made.”

“This is an opportunity for Ohio’s public colleges and universities to work together and collaborate,” said Lefton in the email. “We are grateful to Gov. Kasich to have a capital budget, and I’m looking forward to working with the other presidents to come up with a solution that helps us address our deferred capital needs.”

Gordon Gee could not be reached for comment because he is busy with Ohio State’s Board of Trustees meeting, said Jim Lynch, director of media relations at the university, via email.

“[I]t would be inappropriate for us to discuss school by school details before the process is complete,” Lynch said.

Contact Rex Santus at [email protected].