Lefton stops by BSR

Vince Peluso

President makes second visit to student-run radio station

Kent State president Lester Lefton dropped into the Black Squirrel Radio studio Wednesday for a brief interview. Lefton talked about issues concerning students. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

President Lester Lefton appeared on Black Squirrel Radio yesterday afternoon to discuss issues at Kent State for nearly an hour with members of the student-run radio station.

Lefton made it clear he wants to expand Kent State both on and off campus.

“I’ve made it a priority of this administration to try and ensure we have a real redevelopment of Kent,” he said on air. “I want there to be places where students can go downtown and shop. It’s important to have destinations for students to go so we become less of a commuter school.”

Lefton said he tries to be a man of the people by eating lunch at the Student Center daily. He also announced a new program where he will sit down and eat lunch with seven or eight students each month.

With the current state of the economy, high-ranking officials of any business have been facing pay cuts. Recently, some presidents have taken pay cuts to lighten the burden, which Lefton said he thought was a noble idea.

“It’s an interesting and symbolic gesture to take a pay cut,” he said. “The real issue isn’t the pay, the real issue is are they doing the job they’ve been asked to do. Do you have a president that is getting the job done?”

Lefton said Kent State has raised the largest amount of scholarship money this year in the history of the university, something he said he hopes he has something to do with.

Lefton, who said he makes below the national average for a president, said he has never been asked to take a pay cut. When asked if he would take a pay cut if it would avoid cutting a program, he responded, “I think you’ve got to first bring that question to the board.”

Nathan Edwards, Black Squirrel Radio news producer and one of the show hosts, said he wasn’t satisfied with Lefton’s answer about pay cuts.

“I feel like he didn’t want to take a pay cut,” Edwards said. “Even at the worst of times, he’d rather leave the decision up to the board. I thought he gave a tremendous interview, but he still didn’t directly answer the question.

“He wouldn’t even give an answer about a bonus. I took that as he wasn’t willing to take an initiative to save the university money.”

Kent State recently announced a $5.5 million budget cut. Lefton said the cut has gone smoothly because of the job the deans have done.

“We’re doing everything we can to protect students,” he said. “The first goal was to do as little harm to students as possible, then protect faculty and staff. Most of the adjustments have been determined by the deans of colleges and the athletic director, and each college has determined the most effective way to manage it.”

Lefton also talked about the importance of keeping alumni involved with the university, as he has traveled across the country encouraging alumni to donate money.

Among other topics, he encouraged students to attend sporting events, namely this weekend’s Kent State-Akron basketball game, and expressed optimism about the upcoming track and field season.

Contact College of Education, Health, and Human Services reporter Vince Peluso at [email protected].

Listen to the entire interview or hear Lefton’s answers to specific questions.

Entire interview:

What does Lefton think is more more important to the University, academics or athletics?

How important does Lefton think athletics are to the university?

What does Lefton hope to accomplish in the weekly emails he sends out?

What type of interaction does Lefton have with students?

Would Lefton take a pay cut or refuse a bonus during this economic recession?

What does Lefton have to say about the potential tuition freeze in the next two years?

Why should students pay for athletics?