Lefton announces plans to improve student success at State of the University address

Jackie Valley

President Lester Lefton told the university community he plans to focus on key issues at Kent State, such as diversity and degree completion, to make “every student a success story” in his State of the University address today.

Speaking to mostly faculty in the Kiva, Lefton said a special fund is being created to improve the recruitment and retention of under-represented groups of students and faculty on campus.

“In today’s society – one in which our students must be able to compete and collaborate with people of all backgrounds – we cannot tolerate cultural insensitivity, by commission or omission,” he said.

To make degree completion more student-friendly, Lefton said Provost Robert Frank will lead an initiative to make the Liberal Education Requirements less complicated and ease the task of scheduling classes or transferring between departments and majors within the university.

Lefton also urged faculty to “seek truth and pursue it” by applying for patents and federal grants to support students’ experience while helping Kent State become a regional leader in research.

“As I see it, Northeast Ohio deserves a public research university of the first tier – the public equivalent of private Case Western Reserve University,” he said. “Kent State has the capacity to assume that mantle.”

In addition, Lefton stressed the importance of interaction among disciplines, creating a strategic plan for academics and highlighting the university’s strengths in the face of state-mandated changes to higher education.

“I believe that the most exciting chapters in Kent State’s history are ours to write together – chapters that will be so far-reaching and rewarding that they will be worth the discomfort that almost always accompanies change,” he said.

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].