Lefton wants more overseas opportunities

Christina Stavale

Kent State students may have more opportunities to study abroad in coming years because of President Lester Lefton’s recent travels overseas.

Lefton spent much of the past month traveling to Turkey, Istanbul, Russia, Geneva and Florence, looking to find more opportunities for students to study abroad and to improve and evaluate programs already in place.

Studying abroad is something Lefton said is important and beneficial for today’s students.

“We live in a flat world,” he said. “You’re not just competing with students from the University of Akron or Cleveland State. You’re competing with students from Tokyo and St. Petersburg.”

He said he also hopes to create more scholarship opportunities for students who study abroad. Currently, he said study abroad programs cost $1,000 to $3,000 in addition to tuition.

To create more scholarship funds, Lefton said he plans on going to private donors and promoting the good experiences students get from studying abroad. He does not yet know how much money would be made available for these funds.

“It’s too soon for any goals,” he said. “Right now, it’s about creating awareness that this is a good thing.”

In Geneva and Florence, Lefton said he visited Kent State’s current study abroad programs and met with administration, staff members and students. He also visited some of the educational sites the students visit.

“It’s very clear that our students have great experiences in Geneva and Florence,” he said.

He traveled to Russia to seek more opportunities for students to have these experiences. While there, he visited Novgorod State University and the Russian Electrotechnical Institute to evaluate faculty and programs and to consider sending Kent State students for there for exchange programs.

“These were enlightening visits, but some things were less desirable,” Lefton said.

For example, he said Moscow is ranked the most expensive city to live in the world with St. Petersburg ranked closely behind. Also, he said buildings were in need of renovations.

He said, however, traveling to Russia would be beneficial to some students, such as those studying Russian, and will continue to pursue agreements and understanding with these institutions.

While overseas, Lefton also attended a meeting with the Turkish National Police Academy and gave the commencement address at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul.

He said this university has an exchange program with Kent State, and two Kent State students did an “excellent job” of serving as his tour guides while he was in town.

“It was a good investment of time,” Lefton said, “because I learned so much about what we’re doing and what we’re not doing.”

Contact principal reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].