Provost candidate puts focus on regional campuses, technology

Amadeus Smith

In an open student forum last Friday, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost candidate Elizabeth Langland said running a university is sort of like writing a book.

“You start at a certain point and you start making shifts and changes and you end up in a different place than what you thought when you started,” Langland said.

In the third set of provost candidate student meetings, Langland discussed regional campuses, student involvement in university decisions and retention rates.

Langland said the regional campuses are important because they house one-third of the student body – more than 11,000 students.

And although a significant portion of Kent State’s student body attends regional campuses, those campuses are financially self-reliant, she said.

“They have to fund themselves off of student revenue,” she said.

The candidate added only 10 percent of students who complete two academic years come to the Kent campus to finish their four years.

However, she said distance learning and hybrid classes, which the university is currently researching, will mend the problem.

She said although she values the “give and take” atmosphere of classrooms, the technological changes can enhance learning if used properly.

For example, she said online discussion threads allow professors to require each student to post a comment at least once as well as focus topical discussions.

“The discussion threads are great because every student has to post at least once, so every student has to do the reading,” she said. “Plus, in a class, the discussion could shift.”

April Samuelson, junior public relations major, asked about retention and graduation rates.

Retention, Langland said, could be fixed with input from students. She discussed taking one freshman from each orientation class and forming a freshman council.

“You need feedback mechanisms to find out why the students are learning,” she said, noting student knowledge would help with changes.

She agreed with the Kent State’s new idea to develop freshman orientation classes that are more focused on individual majors, but said the university must look out for freshman who are exploratory majors because they are often “the ones who drift.”

Edward Moreira, executive chair of Kent State’s Graduate Student Senate, asked Langland to discuss the student body’s role in shared governance. He said his concern was raised by the new budget model the university will adopt.

Langland said she hadn’t given the matter much thought yet and didn’t want to give a simple answer to a complicated problem. But, she said students should be involved in the process.

Contact general assignment reporter Amadeus Smith at [email protected].