Lefton talks future changes with DKS

Daniel Moore

Lefton discusses future plans for housing, fundraising and development.

Lefton talks future changes with DKS

Listen to Lefton’s interview with the Daily Kent Stater staff.


Kent State is not planning on building more major dormitories on campus, but it also doesn’t plan on significantly increasing enrollment either.

President Lester Lefton discussed the housing crisis — or lack thereof — among other topics in a meeting with Daily Kent Stater editors.

He said city and university officials have begun sharing building plans with each other. The university doesn’t want to overbuild on campus, he said, because the city has plans of its own.

“You don’t want to have an airplane with empty seats,” Lefton said. “It costs just as much gas to run the airplane full or empty.”

Record Fundraising

The university’s Centennial Campaign has recorded the highest fundraising totals ever during the 2011 fiscal year, reaching $42 million.

He said, private donors gave almost double the amount raised during Lefton’s first year as president.

“A significant part of the university president’s role is fundraising,” Lefton said. “And I expect it to be an increasing part of my responsibilities. It’s a part of the way we keep tuition down.”

He said during last year alone, he traveled to cities like Phoenix, San Francisco, Houston, New York and Naples, Fla. to speak with large numbers of Kent State alumni.

The donations will largely go toward scholarships.

The Centennial Campaign was launched in 2007 with a goal of raising $250 million in five years, by Spring 2012. Lefton said he fully expects that goal to be met later this year.

Centennial Green

The Centennial Green project will begin in the spring and will be near completion by the start of school next fall.

“It’s going to be terrific,” Lefton said. “It’s going to look great; it’s going to be very student-oriented.”

Lefton said financial concerns caused him to push back the $3.5 million project, which was supposed to be done this fall.

The project is designed to transform land between Summit Street and Risman Plaza and will create spaces for performances, recreation and relaxation and will require a rerouting of Risman Drive, he said.

The project, he said, is only part of a larger, strategic philosophy the university has followed to recruit students. It wants to create a more aesthetically attractive campus like Miami University in Oxford.

“Yes, you will benefit from (Centennial Green),” he said. “You will lounge out in the sun; you will go to concerts; you will use the performance spaces. But while it is about you, it’s also about a strategy of being a place where people say ‘oh, this is really nice. I want to go school here.’”

Provost committee

The university’s search is underway for a new Provost as current Provost Robert Frank announced last summer his plans to step down.

A search committee met for the first time last Friday, Lefton said. The diverse committee of students, faculty and staff has yet to be publicly named.

“We have an aggressive timetable,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll bring candidates to campus in January and early February. It’s an open search. It’s a national search. Anyone can apply.”

Contact Daniel Moore at [email protected].