Third Frontier singles out few, hurts most

Thanks to Gov. Bob Taft’s Third Frontier Project, Kent State is now looking at drastically shifting its research moneys to the science and technologies fields.

Under the Third Frontier, universities in Ohio are encouraged – through monetary means – to spend more time researching technology and less time focusing on the arts.

One of its goals, according to, is to attract new businesses to the state through groundbreaking research.

If universities want to receive more money for research, they must comply with the project by shifting money around to focus on technology.

Now Kent State is jumping on the wagon (because it has to) and starting to make decisions that could greatly alter the future of the university.

The history department has been singled out by a steering committee, led by Peter Tandy, acting vice president for research, as an area that could see a decrease in doctoral funding, according to recent articles in the Stater.

A March 23 Stater article said the Educational Policies Council was reviewing a proposal that would end funding for graduate assistants in the history department.

This, as expected, didn’t make the history department very happy.

A loss in graduate-assistant funding could hamper the department’s undergraduate students as well, as associate professor Kim Gruenwald said in an April 6 article. Without assistants, students will lose the more personal, face-to-face instruction they currently receive.

After discussion, Tandy has decided to change his recommendation about the shift in money.

As reported in yesterday’s Stater, Tandy and the steering committee are looking into transferring money from faculty, rather than graduate-assistant programs. They’re also thinking about transferring money from more departments than just history.

The problem of this money transfer isn’t the university’s fault – Kent State is only doing what the state of Ohio has told it to. If the university doesn’t reallocate 1.5 percent of its doctoral funding to science and technology for the next 10 years, it will lose significant state funding.

Kent State is only trying to find the best way to achieve the goals of the Third Frontier – the way that will help the most students.

The initial decision to recommend that the money be taken completely from the history department would have been detrimental to the department.

Now that the university is spreading the dearth, it’s more fair to all departments – and won’t wipe out a whole area of the university.

But the Third Frontier will affect the whole university. This is just the beginning of a shift in money from the arts to the sciences. Though it seems to be affecting the history department the most right now, it’s only a matter of time before the university will have to take money from other departments.

Why? Because the state is blackmailing public universities into shifting their funding. The majority of Kent State could be disadvantaged because the state won’t put any extra money toward achieving its own causes. The real problem isn’t Kent State, but the unfair precedents Third Frontier is enacting.

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