Our view: Keep the university universal

DKS Editors

President Lester Lefton has a difficult job. He needs to cut costs while preserving the academic integrity of the university.

So in an effort to do that, he has encouraged the development of a new model for liberal education requirements that would limit the number of course options students can choose from. The establishment of this Kent Core would cut the choices by more than half.

Lefton said this would save and make money and allow it to divert funds toward developing other resources, like faculty.

But we wonder if diminishing the breadth of knowledge available to students in their first years at the university is right. College students should be exposed to more, not less.

The Roman Achievement, for example, is the 84th most popular course of the 109 current LER options. Only 388 students have taken the class in the last five years (compared to, say, the more than 6,000 who took Seven Ideas that Shook the Universe).

Obviously that class isn’t a moneymaker. The teacher-to-student ratio of Roman Achievement makes it much less profitable than Seven Ideas.

But should the profit margin influence how universities make decisions that affect academics?

Most people, probably including Lefton, would answer no. The reality, however, is that it has to.

But we believe a large diversity of quality LER classes is vital to graduating students who are intellectually well rounded. The faculty and administration have tried hard in the last few years to bring Kent State up to par with other public institutions of its size, and it is finally receiving more recognition for the quality of work being done here.

We hope the university will not sacrifice academic assets under financial pressure.

Kent State administrators should work tirelessly in this critical next year to minimize the losses in academics, favoring instead to cut costs in more superficial, inessential areas.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board whose members are listed to the left.