Students share thoughts on Lefton’s first-semester work

Tim Magaw

While working on architecture projects last summer in the studio, Kurt Wireman said he and his classmates were overwhelmed by the heat because of the lack of air conditioning.

He also said the lights were turned off too early, and they couldn’t get their work done.

Wireman, sophomore architecture major, and his classmates decided to take their concerns straight to the top by e-mailing President Lester Lefton.

Within a day, adjustments had been made so the students could get their work done and feel comfortable while doing it.

“It felt like we meant something to him, and we weren’t just numbers,” Wireman said.

With one semester at Kent State under Lefton’s belt, Wireman and other students are starting to get an understanding for what the university’s new president is like.

Danielle Brown, junior biology and pre-med major, said all she knows about Lefton is what she reads in his weekly e-mails or the Stater. However, she was familiar with his decision to condense commencement into one ceremony in May instead of the current one-per-semester model.

“I know what he did about commencement, and I wasn’t happy about that,” she said. “But I don’t think anyone was.”

Brown said she didn’t believe Lefton thought about the “big picture” when considering the impact of commencement changes on students, but she was happy when he decided to drop the plan.

“At least he wasn’t bullheaded and say, ‘This is how it’s going to be, and you’re going to like it,'” Brown said.

Dave Grager, junior political science major, said although he hasn’t seen evidence of Lefton’s changes, he believes the president cares for students.

Grager said Lefton’s weekly “In a Flash” e-mail messages show this.

“He seems more willing to deal with students’ needs,” Grager said. “The e-mail itself shows that he cares about trying to connect with the students.”

PRIDE!Kent President Amanda Boyd said she thinks Lefton could pay more attention to the social aspect of the university, especially in regards to domestic partner benefits.

“I think he seems very optimistic about bringing research and higher academics to the school,” she said. “I think he might be a little oblivious to the social structure.”

Boyd said Lefton’s decision to base offering domestic partner benefits on lawsuits, such as the one at Miami University is problematic because the two universities are different, academically and socially.

In the past, Lefton has repeatedly said that offering domestic partner benefits violates the Ohio Constitution, and once the law is changed or the Supreme Court strikes down the ban, the university will reconsider its position.

Boyd said she would like to see Lefton attend student meetings and ask questions because it always seems as if students are trying to get in contact with him and not vice versa.

“If he wants to bring the university to a higher level, he has to do it all the way around,” Boyd said.

Freshman nursing major Jordan Falk said he hasn’t seen Lefton on campus except for in a freshmen orientation assembly at the M.A.C. Center during the Week of Welcome.

“I don’t know how close he can get, besides (sending) e-mails, with a school this big,” Falk said.

Contact administration reporter Tim Magaw at [email protected].