Board gives university renovations green light

Kristyn Soltis

Bond sales could net $200 million

Kent State trustees approved an investment up to $200 million to improve multiple buildings on Kent’s main campus Tuesday.

Lefton said during the 1970s, about 70 buildings were constructed “haphazardly” within a span of 12 years.

“Take a tour of the Art Building; it is the least artful building that I have ever seen on any college campus anywhere,” he said. “Van Deusen is a masterpiece of what might have been good in 1931.”

The $200 million that the board approved would come from the sale of bonds.

While no final decisions have been made, Lefton said significant improvements are needed in the science corridor including math, biology, chemistry, physics and nursing.

“The science buildings have structural steel showing that should be cased in cement,” he said. “If we don’t fix these buildings, we will have to close them.”

Kent State also has to meet a mandate by law for energy conservation.

“We have buildings that have glass walls that are really quite stunning, but it’s single pane glass put up in the 1950s, and they’re about as energy efficient as a sheet of Saran wrap,” Lefton said.

While financial decisions are yet to be made, he added the bond market is favorable – money is available, and it’s cheaper than it has been or likely will be.

He said it’s also likely that eventually students will slowly be assessed fees.

“The state will give us some money, the students will give us the other money,” Lefton said. “But we don’t want the fees to come on board until students start to see the effects.”

Lefton estimated that it will cost about $353 million to renovate Kent State’s eight campuses, but he talked mostly of the main campus at the board meeting.

He said if the university borrows money, it is likely the work will be completed in a three- to five-year period.

“Five years from now this place will look different, feel different and be much more modern,” Lefton said.

Contact administration reporter Kristyn Soltis at [email protected]