Excuse me, Mr. President

Around exam time last year, the Stater newsroom was the most hectic (and most exciting) it had been all semester.

Stater phone calls and airplane rides were being made to Tulane University. Reporters scrambled to get student and faculty reactions in between calculus and English exams.

After months of anticipation, the university had just announced its 11th president. With 15 years of calling Carol Cartwright president, the Kent State community was anxious to hear anything about the newly announced leader.

One name was on our minds – Lester Lefton.

Fast forward 12 months, and the university is celebrating his inauguration today in the M.A.C. Center.

The former Tulane provost has had one year to make an impact on Kent State. So has he?

Nothing about his first term as president really sticks out. There haven’t been any groundbreaking or incredibly controversial decisions made, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Lefton proved that our voices matter when he decided not to follow through with the changes of commencement and graduation ceremonies this past December. That’s a big deal, not just because he was open-minded and listened to student opinion, but that students were vocal in their concerns.

Another important, behind-the-scenes progression Lefton has made is in the increase in fundraising during the first six months of fiscal year 2007, receiving almost $4 million more in gifts than it had in fiscal year 2006. Lefton said that increase is a result of dedicating 25 percent of his time to fundraising, a duty that is becoming increasingly important as harsh budget cuts and lower admissions face our university.

Speaking of budget cuts, the most recent cuts to the history doctorate program seem unfair, and Lefton’s focus on making us a heavy hitter in research areas may hurt the smaller, budding programs.

The thing, however, that Lefton has done that leaves the most bitter taste in our mouths is when our reporter was kicked out of a meeting concerning Kent State’s researching capabilities. How can someone claim to represent the students if he is kicking their newspaper staff out of meetings reviewing programs and opportunities their money paid for? The Stater’s been there since Day 1. And we’ll be there however long he’s president – kicked out of meetings or not.

After taking it all into consideration, Lefton was given the tumultuous task of replacing a well-loved president. It is only natural that our community be cautious of change. Our generation has grown up in an environment that constantly condescends presidential administrations (national and collegiate alike). It’s no wonder Lefton took it a little easy and didn’t make any incredibly controversial decisions.

In the spirit of Kent State, happy inauguration, Mr. President, but the first year is over. Let’s get down to business.

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