Public health among issues to focus on, provost says

Bo Gemmell

Provost Robert Frank expressed his concern for public health after about 250 members of the university and the Kent community munched on scrambled eggs, sausage links, bacon and fresh fruit in the Student Center Ballroom.

The breakfast and speech were part of the this fall’s Bowman Breakfast, an event held every semester designed to bring together the campus and Kent community.

Frank focused his speech on the future of Kent State – citing the need to “push Kent State and the city to greater heights” by training nurses, educators and public health professionals.

Bill Hoover, executive director for the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, said the university and the community can benefit from working together.

“It’s great to see that kind of collaboration,” Hoover said.

Frank is currently preparing a proposal to submit to President Lester Lefton about adding a school of public health to Kent State.

Frank said violence, youth mental health problems and the transportation of hazardous materials across Northeast Ohio’s railroads need to be addressed.

The university and the community made progress since the Spring 2008 Bowman Breakfast, Frank said, but Kent State needs to train “a highly educated work force” to keep up with the global economy of the 21st century.

He said Ohio generates more college degrees than the national average, but degree holders often leave the state. He said about 25 percent of people with bachelor’s degrees leave Ohio.

Frank left the University of Florida 14 months ago. He served as dean and professor of clinical and health psychology for the university’s College of Public Health and Health Professions before joining Kent State.

“Throughout my career, I’ve always had a strong connection to public education,” he said.

Frank said he thought he would be a “poor match” for Kent State after his initial consultation, but Lefton’s accomplishments and the university’s “past successes and current potential” inspired him.

At the University of Florida, he set a goal to double external funding within five years. After five years, the university’s external funding had tripled.

Frank said Kent State reached a record high in external funding last year, but he believes the university needs to double its funding for research.

Contact general assignment reporter Bo Gemmell at [email protected].