Board of Trustees honors donors, approves new Peace and Conflict Studies master’s degree

Grace Springer, Reporter

The board of trustees passed a sweeping agenda at their meeting Wednesday, including increasing budgets on capital projects, honoring donors in naming actions and approving a new master’s degree in peace and conflict studies.

Trustee Pamela Bobst presented a report from the External Relations and Philanthropy Committee. The committee recommended naming actions for a number of Kent State donors.

The board recognized Kent State grads Lawrence R. and Sandra C. Armstrong for their $1 million donation to the Global Education Endowment by naming the Florence, Italy architecture program the Lawrence R. and Sandra C. Armstrong Architecture Study Abroad Program.

The board also approved a naming action in honor of Judith and Thomas Phares for their $1.25 million donation to the Global Education Endowment. The board named the Florence global issues program the Phares Program in Global Issues to recognize their contributions.

Trustee Bobst celebrated their continued support of the university.

“They have created a scholarship to support students studying abroad as they both believe in the benefits of an international education,” said Bobst. “With this additional gift to the Global Education Endowment, they will help ensure that even more Kent State students have the opportunity to study abroad.”

The board recognized donors of $1 million to the Crawford Hall construction with the naming of the Donald S. and Johnna F. Grant Atrium. Donald Grant graduated from Kent State in 1970 with an economics degree. The atrium will be located in Crawford Hall as a gathering place for faculty and students and a location for special events.

The board also voted to name the store in the Kent State University Museum after Dixie Lee Davis who has worked in the fashion industry for nearly 70 years and continues her career as a consultant for Saks Fifth Avenue.

Bobst explained how Davis’s $100,000 donation will help support the Kent State University Museum.

“Her gift will help improve and maintain the visitor experience at the museum which serves as a resource in advancing the understanding of world cultures through the collecting, preserving, interpreting and exhibiting of fashion, textiles and the related arts,” said Bobst.

Trustee Robert Frost, chairman of the Academic Excellence and Student Success Committee, read the committee report recommending the addition of a Peace and Conflict Studies Master of Arts degree.

“The proposed major will prepare students for careers as practitioners for doctorate study, and aims to meet the growing needs of the field of conflict management,” said Frost.

The major will be an addition to Kent State’s School of Peace and Conflict Studies which has served as a memorial of the events of May 4, 1970.

The board amended budgets on two capital projects, the Rockwell Hall renovation and the Aeronautics and Engineering addition.

Trustee Stephen Perry, chairman of the Finance and Administration Committee, explained the reasoning behind the $180,000 Rockwell Hall budget amendment.

“The reason for this is that we had higher than expected heating, ventilation and air conditioning repairs and replacements as well as the severely damaged underlying terrazzo floor which was planned to be refinished and now will require replacement,” Perry said.

He also explained the $1 million budget amendment for the Aeronautics and Engineering addition.

“The bidding for the guaranteed maximum price for this project occurred at a time prior to the persistent construction inflation that we’re now experiencing,” he said. “In addition to significant and unforeseen ground conditions, which required almost $500,000 to correct water and sewer infrastructure.”

The budget amendments will be funded by university local funds.

After voting on the consent agenda, trustee and chair of the board Shawn Riley recognized Karen Keenan, Kent State’s Associate Chief of Staff who is retiring at the end of January.

“Karen is one of the unsung heroes that make our board meetings go so smoothly,” Riley said. “She has been instrumental in the past couple of years in supporting our moves to remote and hybrid board meetings and increasing public access to our meetings via livestream. We thank you for your outstanding contributions and we wish you well in your retirement.”

The board gave her a standing ovation before adjourning the meeting.

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