Lefton submits bonds proposal to Ohio Board of Regents

Julie Sickel

President Lester Lefton has formally submitted a $210 million bonds proposal to Chancellor Jim Petro of the Ohio Board of Regents as part of a $250 million campus renovation plan.

“The bond issue will ensure that Kent State will be able to provide students now and in the future with a world-class education,” Lefton said in a press statement released Wednesday. “In addition to funding improvements in academic and student support facilities, the bond complements our local engagement in economic development.”

The proposal will be open to public comment until April 29, after which Petro has the power to accept or deny the bonds, said Holly Hollingsworth, the deputy director of communications for the Ohio Board of Regents.

“My consideration of this proposal is influenced by the documented need to address these urgent maintenance and renovation projects at Kent State University and the realistic constraints of the state budget to provide alternative funding,” Petro said in a press statement.

Lefton previously submitted the $210 million proposal to former Chancellor Eric Fingerhut in Fall 2010, hoping to take advantage of low-interest Build America Bonds. Fingerhut neglected to approve the proposal before the December 31 expiration date of the low-interest bonds because the fee structure to students challenged affordability.

Like the previous proposal to Fingerhut, if the bonds are approved, students will be charged $7 per credit hour in 2013, and that amount would increase to $24 per credit hour by 2016.

Campus renovations at other universities are normally paid for by tuition alone, but because tuition is already lower than other Ohio universities, the special fees are needed for a renovation of this scale, Lefton said.

The planned renovations will improve 30 buildings across campus. Lefton said one of the priorities would be redevelopment of the campus’ science corridor in order to expand on education and research opportunities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

“We’re investing in the future of our students. I am delighted to hear from so many members of the business community, the academic community and the area community that now is the time to do this,” Lefton said in his only comment to the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact Julie Sickel at [email protected].