Our view: it’s time to pass the torch

DKS Editors

Kent State may be typically thought of as a campus of 23,000 students in Northeast Ohio, but in reality, it encompasses a network of alumni and friends crisscrossing the United States.

The truth of that statement became evident in the past month as four key members of the Kent State family passed away: education professor Robert Zuckerman, major university donor Olga Mural, Clemon “Willie” Boston, director of equal opportunity and affirmative action, and Robert “Robby” Stamps, a student wounded May 4, 1970.

These are not just people who passed through Kent for a fleeting moment on their way to bigger and better achievements. These are four individuals who we can truly say embodied Kent State’s slogan “excellence in action.”

Education professor Robert Zuckerman, 60, served as an adviser for the Education Learning Community and always made a special point to connect with freshmen. He believed the sooner students became involved with campus activities, the more likely they were to persist through graduation.

We couldn’t agree more. His good intentions complemented the university’s efforts to increase freshmen retention rates, which currently hover around 72 percent. But somehow we doubt his efforts were motivated by ratios and percents found in administrative spreadsheets.

It is clear based on student reaction in the KentNewsNet.com story about his death that Zuckerman put words into action, helping a countless number of students. We can only hope that his death will inspire other faculty and staff members to do the same.

Olga Mural may not have been as visible on-campus as Zuckerman, but her impact helped students in similar ways. As one of the university’s largest donors, she gave nearly $5 million to Kent State. Her generosity led to the creation of her namesake Olga A. Mural Baseball Field and Founders Scholarships.

We hear it all the time: Higher education – now more than ever – needs support from private fundraising. Scholarships, in particular, help attract and keep students at Kent State where they can receive a university education.

The university community needs to embrace and thank donors like Mural. Without them, a higher education would not be possible for many students.

During his time at Kent State, Clemon “Willie” Boston, director of equal opportunity and affirmative action, championed another worthy cause: diversity. He had recently joined the Commission on Inclusion.

Kent State has made diversity a key initiative in the past year. Hence, the university should make finding someone to fill Boston’s important position a top priority – someone who, like Boston, will promote diversity both inside and outside of the office.

The death of Robert “Robby” Stamps two weeks ago hit newspapers nationwide, marking the second death among the nine students wounded when the National Guard opened fired on students May 4. His legacy, however, should not become just another relic in news archives.

After all, he would want people to remember.

In an interview with the Daily Kent Stater last year, Stamps expressed concern for what he viewed as a lack of support for the surviving wounded students, with so much emphasis placed on commemorating the four students killed May 4. In addition, the practically nonexistent student-led activism against the current Iraq War discouraged him.

His message should serve as a reminder to all students: Remember May 4. Remember the surviving wounded students. And, as cliché as it might sound, remember to fight for what you believe in.

These four members of Kent State’s family will certainly be missed. The university community has clearly benefited from their presence. We look forward to seeing who will follow in their great example.

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