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Kent State to Hear Changes to the Building Mass Notification System

IMAGE: enter photo description
Students walk to and from downtown Kent under the
arch at the Lefton Esplanade on the Kent Campus. Kent
State University's building mass notification system has
been upgraded on the Kent Campus to be more efficient
in emergency situations.

The Kent Campus saw a few upgrades over the winter break, including one that will improve safety among students, faculty and staff.

The mass notification system, used to broadcast emergency messages throughout campus buildings, has been shifted to a more simplified system.

William Buckbee, assistant chief of police for the Kent State University Police Services, says the previous system was more than 10 years old, making it difficult to test and maintain. The new system will be more efficient in emergency situations.

“We’re basically replacing a similar capability, but we made that capability better,” Buckbee says. “It’s easier to use, which is a big plus when you’re in an emergency.”

Aside from providing an easier process for dispatchers and emergency personnel, the new mass notification system will benefit students, faculty and staff during an emergency.

“On the old system, there was a lot of static and background noise; sometimes it was difficult to understand what the speaker was saying,” Buckbee says. “This enhancement has radically and significantly improved the quality of the audio so that the message is much easier to comprehend.”

Nancy Shefchuk, police sergeant for Kent State University Police Services, says input from the Kent community was one of the reasons for the system update.

“We were getting feedback from a lot of staff and students on campus over the last few years that the quality was lacking, especially in certain buildings,” Shefchuk says. “We finally got to the point where we discovered that there was technology to help us improve that.”

Buckbee says the collaboration among public safety, information services and the Office of the University Architect was essential to the project.

“We couldn’t have done this without the expertise from Information Services, the Office of the University Architect and other people in different parts of campus that helped us with the project,” Buckbee says. “There was a real community effort to accomplish this, and this is only the beginning; we’re planning on making it much better.”

Buckbee explains that this upgrade is phase one for changes to the mass notification system. Moving forward, the university will work on moving the system out to the Regional Campuses and creating messages that can be sent over the system, email, text message and television screens on campus simultaneously.

Shefchuk says students, faculty and staff should be advised that they may hear periodic testing in certain buildings throughout the semester.

Buckbee encourages anyone to contact him or Shefchuk if they have comments about the system.

“We’ve been working over the years to make sure this system is as efficient and effective as it can be, and we need the whole community’s help to be able to do that,” Buckbee says.

To contact Kent State University Police Services, call 330-672-3070. Contact Buckbee or Shefchuk at and respectively. 

Posted Jan. 26, 2015 | Endya Watson

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Kent State Scholar Sees Opportunities to Connect in New Relationship With Cuba

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Kent State University Professor Anne
has studied Cuba's education
system for many years.

President Barack Obama’s recent decision to chart a new course in our country’s relationship with Cuba focuses on creating a new ally while empowering the Cuban people. Obama ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than 50 years. The United States also is opening diplomatic exchanges and easing financial restrictions.

Anne Morrison, a professor at Kent State University’s School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences, has been studying Cuba’s education system with visits to the country several times each year over the last decade.  

“I had a sense something was coming, but it still took me by surprise,” Morrison says. “My feelings are mostly positive about this news. I do have some concerns that things might change too drastically or too fast. My concern is for the Cuban people.”

Morrison sees hope and opportunities with the policy change.

“My hope and my excitement is that we are finally deconstructing that shadow of secrecy and the divisive relationships that don’t need to exist anymore,” she says. “What we’ve done has not worked, so it was time for a change.”

While there will be challenges, Morrison says both countries would benefit from the new relationship.

“Financially, the fact that we’re opening up diplomacy, trade and exchanges has potential for great positive outcomes for Cuba as well as the United States,” Morrison says.

Healthcare and urban planning provide a special opportunity for future exchange, she says.

“I’m excited about the opportunities of partnerships when it comes to healthcare in Cuba,” Morrison says. “They have made tremendous advances in research, but it’s very difficult for them to take their findings to fruition. With Kent State’s College of Public Health and the university’s connections to top area hospitals, we are well positioned to be more connected with Cuba. We can be useful, while our students could learn so much.”

Morrison helped organize an educational exchange trip last March for a group of Kent State administrators, faculty and university supporters. The group engaged in a unique opportunity to develop an insider’s view of Cuba’s healthcare system, with a special focus on urban planning, culture and health. Participants engaged in activities and dialogue with Cuban professionals, including professor and architect Miguel Coyula. The group delivered professional books and journals addressing urban planning and design requested by Coyula in a previous visit.

Dennis Eckart, Kent State Board of Trustees chair and a former U.S. representative, was part of that trip.

“Having followed the political issues in Cuba for 35 years, first as a member of congress and then heading the Cleveland chamber of commerce, it became abundantly clear to me that our current policy was not working,” Eckart says. “In fact, when I visited Cuba earlier this year, it also was clear to me that the only victims of our policy were the people of Cuba. So I am delighted having seen first-hand what the expectations of access to greater freedoms and great economic activity can mean to the people of that island nation.”

Eckhart says our previous policy no longer made sense.

“The cold war is long over,” Eckart says. “Most nations that have been adversaries of the United States now have significant political and economic relationships with us, whether it’s Vietnam or China. We now know there is more to be gained by having direct relationships.”

Eckhart says the timing is good.

“Fidel and Raul Castro are now in their middle to high 80s,” Eckart says. “So the time to make this significant change is when they are still in a position of respect and authority but there will be a new generation of leadership in Cuba soon. “

Morrison and Eckart see great potential with the new policy, including the areas of urban planning and improving agricultural infrastructure.

Morrison also is excited that Obama and Castro may participate in the Summit of the Americas in Panama in April.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a U.S. president and a Cuban president together at that summit, so that’s big news,” Morrison says.

Posted Jan. 26, 2015

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Train Your Brain: Tech Training’s Newest Expansion Goes Live

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Tom Mahon, manager of training and outreach with Kent
State's Division of Information Services, facilitates a
training course. 

Kent State University’s Division of Information Services’ “Train Your Brain” tech training series is back for the spring and better than ever with the addition of walk-in days and new workshop titles. Through partnerships with various campus groups, including Blackboard Learn, the Center for Teaching and Learning (formerly the Faculty and Professional Development Center) and Qualtrics teams, the spring schedule features expanded offerings for faculty.

“We’ve been able to include an additional 10 topics with our guest instructors,” says Jay Frye, director of service management with the Division of Information Services. “The response to our summer and fall series has been fantastic, and we hope the new titles continue to meet the needs of our faculty and staff.”

The spring lineup also marks the first time training is offered in the first week of the semester.

“We’ve added several faculty courses covering the utilization of classroom tools like Blackboard Learn and Qualtrics, and many of the faculty members we spoke with indicated that these skills are needed early on as opposed to mid- or late-semester,” explains Tom Mahon, manager of training and outreach for the Division of Information Services. “It just made sense to move the timetable up a few weeks.”

Walk-Ins Welcome

While the standard training sessions continue throughout the week, Wednesdays are breaking away to get their own material. Initially piloted during finals week of the Fall 2014 Semester, the newly-dubbed “Walk-in Wednesday” is a new staple feature of the training program, offering a designated day for walk-up tech help right near the Information Services Training Center in the University Library Computer Lab.

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Kent State University’s Division of Information Services’
“Train Your Brain” tech training series returns for the
spring semester with the addition of walk-in days and
new workshop titles.

“In contrast with the structured training courses, ‘Walk-In Wednesday’ is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to come in with their own questions and receive one-on-one assistance,” explains Mahon. “Whether it’s a hardware or software question, we’ll have experts on staff to address it, no appointment necessary.”

Walk-in tech help is offered in Room 152 of University Library on the Kent Campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday.

The Spring Tech Training series will run now through April 23. For workshop descriptions, dates and registration, visit

Questions regarding the workshops or walk-in times can be directed to Mahon at  

Posted Jan. 26, 2015

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Summer Teaching Development Grant Update and Application

In an effort to elevate the prestige associated with the Summer Teaching Development Grant, the University Teaching Council has unanimously agreed to increase the funding for each total award to $9,000. Eligible faculty will still be able to apply for partial awards ($4,500). Since 2000, these awards were limited to $6,500 and $3,250 respectively.

As from the 2015 academic year, the University Teaching Council also has decided to raise the reporting expectation for this grant. Faculty will now be required to submit a Final Grant Summary Report that will minimally include:

  • The completed activities during the grant period.
  • The measured or anticipated effect of the project in terms of student learning at Kent State.
  • The public/peer review of their findings (or the plan for this public/peer review).

A portion of the final reward ($500 - $1,000) will be withheld until the University Teaching Council has reviewed and accepted the report. The overall goal of increasing both the funding and expectations of this grant opportunity is to encourage and support faculty who want to adopt a scholarly approach to advancing teaching and learning at Kent State University.

The application deadline for the 2015 Summer Teaching Development Grant is Feb. 23 at 11:59 p.m. EST. For more details regarding the grant application process, as well as other funding opportunities, visit the University Teaching Council website.

Posted Jan. 26, 2015

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Support Group: Empowering Students in Recovery

A newly formed support group, Empowering Students in Recovery, meets weekly (Fridays, 3:30 – 5 p.m.) throughout fall and spring semesters in the DeWeese Health Center, lower level, Conference Room A, on the Kent Campus.

The group – open to any undergraduate or graduate student – is designed to provide support for individuals in recovery from addictions and now considering the path of recovery as a lifestyle.

University Health Services’ trained staff and a core group of student leaders conduct the weekly sessions, which provide opportunities for students to share their experiences. Such sharing can assist individuals in gaining strength and hope in their own recovery efforts. An array of available educational and community resources also is shared with those attending.

The weekly meetings are not scheduled during periods when classes are not in session. The sessions are considered ‘drop-in’ with no pre-registration required, though first-time attendees will be asked to complete brief contact information.

Questions regarding the Empowering Students in Recovery meetings may be directed to Maureen Keating, chemical dependency counselor at University Health Services, at

Posted Jan. 26, 2015

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Kent State in Running for $200,000 in “Together for Safer Schools” Grant Program

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The Kent State University community is encouraged to
vote for the university in Stanley Security’s “Together for
Safer Schools” grant program where two winners share
up to $275,000 in Stanley Security products and services.
The grant will enhance safety for Kent State's residence

Kent State University is a finalist in Stanley Security’s “Together for Safer Schools” grant program in which two winners share up to $275,000 in Stanley Security products and services.

The winner of the grant is determined by the number of votes the university receives by Feb. 13. Students, faculty, administrators, parents, alumni and members of the campus community are encouraged to vote for Kent State daily via three different channels:

  • Text “kentedu” to 334455
  • Tweet #STANLEYSecurity and #kentedu on Twitter
  • Search and vote for Kent State at

Participants get one vote per person per method of voting per day. 

The top two colleges or universities with the most votes in each of three size categories will be selected as grant winners. Kent State is in Tier 3. The college or university with the most votes will win one grand prize of $200,000 in Stanley Security products and services. One runner-up will win a prize of $75,000 in Stanley Security installed products and services. Winners will be notified in March.

Jill Church, Kent State’s director of residence services, says the grant will benefit the university because safety is a top priority, and the money will help the university enhance safety efforts.

“We want to stay on top of the latest and greatest to ensure we continue to have safe residence halls,” Church says.

If selected as the winner, Kent State will use the grant money to continue to update and replace security and lock systems in its 25 residence halls. This includes systems like video surveillance in public areas, panic buttons, advanced locks on residence hall doors and automatic entrances.

“The grant is an avenue to help defray some of the costs associated with our current and future access and security in the residence halls,” says Church.

Posted Jan. 26, 2015 | Haley Keding

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Kent State’s College of the Arts Sponsors Juried Art Competition, Stratosphere

Generous prizes offered and open to all full-time, Kent Campus undergraduate students

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The second annual Stratosphere Art Competition is open
to all Kent Campus undergraduate students regardless of
major.Submissions, which are due by midnight on Feb. 27,
must relate to the subject of "time."

Kent State University’s College of the Arts, in conjunction with the School of Art’s Downtown Gallery, will again sponsor the second annual Stratosphere Art Competition. Kent State faculty and staff are asked to encourage their students to participate.

The competition, which is open to all Kent Campus undergraduate students regardless of major, invites everyone to submit up to three works in any form of 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional visual or design art. There is no submission fee required. The only requirement of the competition is that submissions must somehow relate to the subject of “time.” The deadline is Feb. 27 at midnight.  A total of 25 finalists will be chosen and their work will be on display in the Downtown Gallery from April 7 - 30. To submit up to three works, visit

Submissions will be reviewed by juror and Kent State School of Art alumna Candy Coating (formerly Candy Depew) who will narrow down the pool to the top 25 finalists. These 25 finalists will be notified that their work will be on display in the School of Art’s Downtown Gallery at 141 E. Main Street from April 7 – 30. 

“Last year’s Stratosphere drew students from a wide variety of majors, including chemistry, business, education, dance, art, visual and communication design and psychology,” says John R. Crawford, dean of the College of the Arts. “The prize money is a direct result of the Fee for Free, and another way the College of the Arts is giving back to the Kent State students. We encourage everyone to participate.”

The opening reception and awards ceremony, which is open to the public, will take place on Thursday, April 16, from 5 – 7 p.m. At 6 p.m., the winners will be announced and prizes awarded. Special times will be available for anyone to stop by the gallery to vote for their favorite piece for the “People’s Choice” award.

Generous prizes will be awarded, including $1,000 for best in show, $500 for first place and $250 for second place.  In addition, there is a fourth award for people’s choice, which garners a generous $500 prize. 

“All finalists are encouraged to tell friends and family to stop by the Downtown Gallery to vote,” says Effie Tsengas, communications and marketing director for the College of the Arts. “Please visit the Downtown Gallery’s website at for the specific times and dates available for voting to take place.” 

For more information, visit

Posted Jan. 26, 2015

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