Lefton focuses on academic success

Azka Khan

Tables fill the Student Center Ballroom yesterday morning for the Bowman Breakfast. President Lefton spoke at the event, which was attended by approximately 400 people. ELIZABETH MYERS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

Kent State President Lester Lefton told 400 faculty and community members he wants to increase academic excellence, student success and personal responsibility.

Lefton’s speech at the 46th annual Bowman Breakfast yesterday in the Kent Student Center Ballroom focused on those points as he discussed his goals of bridging the gaps between the Kent campus and the Kent community.

“One of the most fundamental responsibilities of the university is the duty to teach students about personal responsibility,” Lefton said.

He said the Kent campus needs to connect with the Kent community because it is important that the campus engage itself in the community.

Lefton continued by pointing out examples of the university’s organizations and activities that reach out to the community. He mentioned Habitat for Humanity, Kent State United for Biloxi and Operation Smile.

“In these ways and many more, we are working to set a moral tone for students,” Lefton said. “This tone is one that is, unfortunately, lacking in our society.”

Lefton said in today’s society, many children do not believe there are consequences for their actions.

“As my first grade teacher used to say — things do go on your permanent record,” he said.

His other concern was that Ohio is not producing as many graduates as other states.

“As a public university, it is our responsibility to help boost our region’s economy,” he said.

He said students need to be trained to compete in a global economy, and the only way to do so is for Kent State to provide academic excellence.

“Excellence must be at the forefront of everything that we do,” Lefton said. “I am challenging our faculty and students every day to be at the top of their game, to be at the cutting edge, to look beyond the borders of Portage County and beyond the borders of Ohio.”

Lefton said he believes it is important the Kent community becomes a vibrant college town like Ann Arbor, Mich., Ithaca, N.Y. and Boston.

“These cities are economically vibrant, foster student success and are known for academic excellence,” he said. “There are thousands of students, employees and visitors who are ready, willing and able to spend their money, but they are not spending it here.

By becoming more involved in the community, he said he believes that students would be connected to the town while becoming valuable consumers and also responsible citizens.

“As part of my personal responsibility as president, I will support the economic development efforts in any way possible,” Lefton said. “At the beginning of each day, I remind myself what my responsibility is to the people of Ohio, and that is to ensure that our students are successful and that they can live fulfilled lives. As an educator, I believe that this begins with academic excellence.”

Members of the Kent community agreed with Lefton’s message.

Dan Smith, Kent Area Chamber of Commerce representative, said the speech was very powerful.

“It is definitely something that we can accomplish together, and we look forward to working with Dr. Lefton,” Smith said.

The Kent State community felt the same way.

“I thought it was very inspirational and set a good tone about Kent State and the community,” said Timothy Moore, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “But I think that people do come back to Kent — it is the magnetic city.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Azka Khan at [email protected].