Our view: a new beginning

With only finals week left for this semester’s students, it’s time to look to the future. For some students, this is their last week on the campus. For others, this is only the beginning.

The same is true for many of Kent State’s administrators and faculty members – it’s even true for some of our buildings and organizations.

This campus is going to look quite a bit different come fall.

There have been a lot of shake-ups at the top since President Lester Lefton came in 2006, especially during this past year. It was the first year for Provost Robert Frank, as former Provost Paul Gaston stepped back into a faculty position to focus on teaching. We’ve seen deans step into new positions in colleges such as Honors and Arts and Sciences and step down from technology. The Women’s Center finally found a new director.

Lefton created new administrative positions, like that for Robert B. “Yank” Heisler Jr., the special assistant to the president for community and business strategies. Heisler will be filling in this fall for David Creamer, the senior vice president for administration, who is leaving the university. Creamer is just one vice president leaving; the ones in charge of human resources and university relations are also moving on.

Recently, Faculty Senate Chair Cheryl Casper announced that she will be stepping down from her position, but she plans to help the faculty negotiate its new contract this summer.

Construction on Oscar Ritchie and Hillel’s new building has the potential to launch the Pan-African studies department and Jewish community’s on-campus organization to new heights, strengthening our diversity studies at the university. And the journalism department’s move into our new home of Franklin Hall earlier this year opened up Taylor Hall to new plans, such as the May 4 visitor’s center, which will be done in time for the 40-year anniversary in 2010. It’s only right that we honor our past while cementing our future.

The student government is entering a time of increased student involvement and representation as the Undergraduate Student Senate became the Undergraduate Student Government. Next year, 25 students will fill the positions nine used to.

And across the state, a 10-year plan for all universities in Ohio has been announced with the goal of strengthening education for all students.

While interim administrators and construction are nothing new to a university of our size and many of these men and women will surely be missed, all these factors combined have the potential to lead to a new era for Kent State. The university is in a remarkable position to make these changes translate into a cohesive vision for the future, rather than a bunch of disjointed shake-ups.

We hope Kent State takes all this into account, choosing new administrators and faculty members who fully represent a large cross section of the population, rather than a small segment. We hope the new buildings support the growth of their respective programs and that other programs, regardless of construction status, follow suit. We hope all Ohio universities strengthen their “centers of excellence” without losing their identities, so students everywhere can thrive. And we hope the new student leaders will create opportunities for the rest of the student body to take advantage of.

College is what you make of it, and Kent State is in a unique position to remake itself.

Good luck.

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