Board announces state committee member

Amadeus Smith

Kent State’s board of trustees announced Jane Murphy Timken yesterday as its contributing member to the newly created North East Ohio Universities Collaboration and Innovation Study Commission, one of the last committees appointed by Gov. Bob Taft.

The initial bill for the commission detailed the strategies in forming inter-university programs and standards. Taft named board members early last December.

Kent State, Cleveland State, Youngstown State, University of Akron and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine will each contribute two members to the commission – an appointed board member and the university’s president.

According to the original draft of the bill, the committee will research different ways for the institutions involved to combine and share undergraduate and graduate programs as well as some governance mechanisms, as long as the mechanisms relate to similar functions among the universities.

However, there have been changes since the bill’s first draft.

Charlene Reed, secretary to the board of trustees, said the board was opposed to the bill at first. Kent State met it with an alternative proposal which illustrated a more aggressive timeline for research results, she said.

What’s more, each university would govern its own research and offer the government funding ideas based on the results.

“Looking at these issues falls under the responsibility of the board of trustees,” Reed said. “We don’t need a legislative mandate.”

She said the board is now completely supportive of the bill, which includes items from Kent State’s alternative proposal, such as bringing in regional members.

But university collaboration isn’t cheap, Reed said, noting a recent $30 million merger between The University of Toledo and Medical University of Ohio.

The committee will not provide funding for the schools, and Reed said the committee’s own expense budget has been reduced from $200,000 to $25,000.

She added that, although Kent State has a joint doctorate program in nursing with the University of Akron, collaboration may be a challenge outside of the financial walls.

“People, they think, ‘Here’s Kent, and here’s Akron — they’re 15 minutes from each other,'” Reed said. “The Ashtabula campus is really far east and then down to the Tuscarawas branch. (Kent State) is more of a residential college.”

Still, Reed and Timken both said the committee will find ways for the institutions to come together.

“The committee will figure out how Northeastern Ohio colleges should collaborate in rational, reasonable ways that make sense to each institution,” Timken said.

Contact general assignment Amadeus Smith at [email protected].