Lefton talks inclusion

Kiera Manion-Fischer

President Lester Lefton said Kent State faces many challenges.

“Sometimes I don’t know if we can pull it all off,” he said.

Lefton spoke to Faculty Senate yesterday in the Student Center governance chambers, addressing issues from Kent State’s mission to Eric Fingerhut’s upcoming visit to the university.

Fingerhut, the new chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, will come to Kent State Oct. 16 to discuss the proposed university system. According to the board’s Web site, the plan would bring together Ohio’s public higher education institutions, while maintaining their individual identities.

Lefton said Fingerhut is working on a 10-year plan for higher education in Ohio to present to the state legislature.

“(Fingerhut) wants a seamless transition from students in high school to college,” he said. “Every high school student in Ohio should have access to higher education.”

This does not just include four-year universities, such as Kent State, Lefton said, but higher education at every level.

Lefton said he’s tried to make Kent State a magnet for high-achieving students with a focus on research, but it will remain a multicampus system.

“(Fingerhut’s) not seeking to take down the Kent State flag at our regional campuses,” Lefton said.

Lefton also invited faculty to join a new “Presidential Commission on Inclusion,” to make Kent State a more “warm and open environment.”

“It has to bubble up from our community,” he said. “It can’t just come from me.”

Faculty Senate also approved the strategic planning committee’s changes to the university strategic plan. The revised strategic plan will now go to the Board of Trustees for approval.

Cheryl Casper, chair of Faculty Senate, said that after feedback from the university community, the concept of academic freedom has been put back into the core values section of the strategic plan.

George Garrison, senator and professor of Pan-African studies, said providing educational opportunities to citizens of Ohio’s diverse communities should be in the university’s mission statement.

Lefton said it would probably become part of Provost Robert Frank’s academic plan, which will be inspired by the strategic plan.

He commended the planning committee on its changes to his proposed revisions.

“This is a perfect example of how shared governance can work to better the institution,” Lefton said.

Contact academics reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].