Kent, Akron share history program

Jason Clevenger

Despite being rivals in sports, the University of Akron and Kent State will soon find themselves academic allies in history.

A joint doctoral program is in the works between the two universities that will make resources from both universities available.

History department chair Kenneth Bindas said this program will better meet the needs of students because they can use the faculty of both Akron and Kent State. It will also reduce competition between the two.

“The campuses share the same market because of proximity,” Bindas said of Kent State and Akron, which are separated by 12 miles. “(The joint program) reduces competition between the two institutions and provides a service for the regions and the states.”

Michael Sheng, the history department chair at Akron, shares an optimistic viewpoint.

“We are very excited about the joint program between the two departments, which will enable us to be much stronger in producing more and better Ph.D. students in the near future,” he said.

The focus of the new joint program is on globalization and pedagogy (teaching). Ideally, the perspective of doctorate students will be broader.

Sheng said this broader approach will allow students to be “on the cutting edge of historical studies and more marketable at the same time.”

This type of collaboration is exactly what Gov. Ted Strickland and Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, are looking for.

“For too long, Ohio has been ill-served by competition between institutions for students and resources, rather than the collaboration that would benefit all Ohioans,” Strickland said in a recent interview with the OhioNews Bureau.

Both Bindas and Sheng hope this will set Kent State and Akron apart in the world of history education.

“This would be unique in the state of Ohio,” Bindas said.

The two institutions have already begun working together, despite the fact that the joint program has yet to begin.

“UA and KSU have an established consortium arrangement, which allows our students to take each other’s graduate classes, and their advisory committees are often involving faculty members from the other department,” Sheng said. “This collaboration will continue to grow while we are going through the approval process.”

The approval process is a lengthy series of submissions and approvals, but both departments hope to have the joint program up and running by 2011.

However, the departments will not be fused into one.

“We would retain autonomy over our program, and they would retain autonomy over theirs,” Bindas said.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Jason Clevenger at [email protected].