“Talking with Todd” live Q&A sheds light on Kent State from president’s desk

Grace Springer, Staff Reporter

Kent State President Todd Diacon addressed over 300 faculty and staff in a Microsoft Teams live Q&A called “Talking with Todd,” a new monthly chat.

Tuesday’s chat provided an update on A Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State, a six-step plan to improve the community.

Diacon answered mostly anonymous questions from faculty and staff. Some questions focused on university news and academic affairs.

QUESTION: Can you tell us about the recent Intel grant award?

DIACON: Intel organized a call for proposals around research and around the teaching of technology, and Ohio universities were invited to submit proposals. We are actually on two of those grants … We’ll have more details about the grant from Intel that was awarded to Kent State in the upcoming days and weeks.

Other faculty and staff wanted to learn more about Diacon’s personal life.

QUESTION: What was your very first job?

DIACON: My very first job was as the potato peeler for the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Wellington, Kansas, and I was 14. My job, literally, was to do nothing but peel potatoes. You’ve got to imagine they have got machines to do that today, but in 1960s Kansas, they did not.

Additional questions addressed recent construction and improvements on campus.

QUESTION: Is it true that in order to build a new building on campus we have to tear one down? How is the decision made to build a new building or facility? There are programs on this campus that are hurting for classroom and lab space that could make use of the space in the business administration building.

DIACON: It is not true that in order to build a new building we have to tear one down, but what is true is that Kent State University enrolls fewer students now than it did 10 years ago … The average lifespan of a building is roughly 50 years, and so we have an enormous number of buildings that either have to be completely renovated or torn down … We would ideally take down some buildings that are either unoccupied or under-occupied because collectively, we’d save about $2.3 million if we did that. Could the business administration building, when empty, be used? Yes, it could be used. Is that a particularly functional and good building? It’s absolutely not a particularly good building nor is it a particularly functional building. So these are the kinds of things we have to think about in our planning.

QUESTION: Will the university look to expand electric vehicles soon in the fleet and expand charging stations in the parking lots?

DIACON: Well, I hope so … We are now looking into federal and state funding opportunities to build solar-powered charging stations by maybe putting solar panels over parking lots …  Kudos to Senior Vice President Polatajko and his group because we now have meaningful solar rays on all of our campuses. And by meaningful, I mean, for example, the amount of solar energy we generate on our podiatric medical campus is about 30% of what they use.

Diacon ended the chat by thanking faculty and staff for attending and serving the university. The next “Talking with Todd” live Q&A will take place in October and will focus on the university budget.

Grace Springer is a staff reporter. Contact her at [email protected]