Our view: Not a frat party cameo, but good enough

President Lester Lefton is starting to figure out how to get people to like him.

Maybe getting booed at The Used concert in the spring opened his eyes – he introduced the band on stage at the M.A.C. Center and was received like George Bush at a poetry reading.

We would like to think it had something to do with the bad press he made for himself after the College Fest riot, as he declined to be interviewed and reprimanded our student reporter.

Whatever it was, it seems Lefton is trying to change his ways and win the hearts and minds of his subjects.

At the May 8 Board of Trustees meeting he announced that he and his 10 cabinet members will give their 2009-2010 pay raises to students struggling to pay for college as the recession wears on. We don’t yet know how much that will be, but given his 2008 raise (3 percent) and his current salary ($378,525), Lefton could be forfeiting about $11,356.

The vice presidents don’t make quite as much as Lefton – usually somewhere in the $150,000 range – but combined it’s a hefty chunk of money and a lot of students are going to be thankful. (We wonder if the decision was unanimous among the VPs. You have to believe a few of them secretly really wanted that pay raise.)

Yes, it’s probably just a gesture, a public relations stunt, a story the administration hoped The Chronicle of Higher Education would pick up (so far it hasn’t).

But who cares? Even if it is a calculated gesture, it’s very noble to give away more than $11,000. Even for Lefton, that’s not pocket change. And the guy’s not heartless; he’s aware that money is going to someone who could really use it right now.

We’re just waiting to see how the students and faculty respond.

Can Lefton become the beloved character that Ohio State’s President E. Gordon Gee is? Gee is frequently spotted at frat parties in an eccentric plaid suit and bow tie.

It has nothing to do with academic excellence or balancing budgets, but wouldn’t it be an excellent balancing act to see Lefton do a keg stand? We’d write favorable editorials about him for the rest of eternity.

In the interim, donating his raise is laudable and appreciated – so don’t boo him next time he’s on stage. Besides, we would love to see that keg stand.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.