Bowman Breakfast puts focus on relations

Carrie Banks

Elevating town-gown relationship central to David Dix’s message

“Town and gown forever. Or as Kent State University goes, so does Kent,” David Dix, the publisher of The Record-Courier, said to begin his keynote address at the annual Bowman Breakfast.

A tradition since 1963, the breakfast is a forum for city leaders and members of the University community to discuss issues of importance to Kent.

Kent State President Lester Lefton introduced Dix, a Kent native, by recalling his family’s history of service to the community.

“If you were to ask to name those in our community that really play key roles in serving both town and gown, the name Dix would undoubtedly appear on any list that would be generated,” Lefton said.

Elevating the town-gown relationship was central to Dix’s message.

“Were there no Kent State, the city of Kent would be a shadow itself,” Dix said. “As heavy manufacturing continues to leave town, the university looms even larger as Kent’s economic future.”

In front of a room of approximately 200 people at the Kent American Legion Hall, Dix said that he interviewed business owners, city leaders and members of the University community to get a feel for the current town-gown relationship. He added that while the responses were mostly positive, making the students feel welcome in the community was an issue that appealed to him.

Dix outlined Kent State’s evolution from one of only a few universities in the entire state more than 50 years ago to just one of many in Northeast Ohio today. This change, he said, requires that the city and university adjust in order to stay competitive in attracting citizens and students to the town-gown community.

Through “commitment, imagination and risk,” Dix said he feels Kent can transition into an atmosphere where “you can’t tell where the campus ends and the town begins.”

“Kent State’s tradition has been risk aversion, but you have to be able to take a modest amount of risk to help this town,” he said.

Dix applauded the efforts of organizations such as Main Street Kent for rejuvenating downtown. He said he feels their latest effort to bring a whitewater park to the area “could transform downtown Kent and make it a true destination.”

He added that the university should do more to get involved in this process that would essentially build a bridge between campus and the downtown area.

Contact public affairs reporter Carrie Banks at [email protected].