Kent State trustees heaped praise on President Lester Lefton as they awarded him a $104,450 bonus at a Wednesday meeting.
Lefton’s performance reflects “a very steady hand,” trustee Dennis Eckert said. Lefton “continues to be a great leader at the right time,” board chairwoman Jane Murphy Timken said.
The performance bonus represents 25 percent of his base salary of $417,799 and is contractually required if he meets his goals. It will be paid on July 1.
In a letter to trustees outlining his goals for 2012-2013, Lefton likened himself to an orchestra conductor.
“The president tries to orchestrate the vision and keeps the orchestra together moving ahead, whether the budgets of the orchestra are in trouble or are flush,” he wrote.
He told trustees that capital construction plans are his biggest goal in the current year. They will include new buildings for architecture and environmental design and for applied engineering, sustainability and technology on the Kent campus.
Construction could begin as early as this summer for campus improvements, which are funded in part by $170 million in general receipt bonds.
The projects on the Kent campus and its seven regional campuses and a revitalization of downtown Kent total $800 million, Lefton said.
The city of Kent, the Portage Area Regional Transit Authority, private developers and others are contributing to the downtown project.
Trustees agreed that Lefton should be evaluated on six key areas that included ensuring student success; enhancing academic excellence and innovation; and expanding breakthrough research and creative endeavors.
“You’re making their diplomas more valuable,” trustee Ralph Della Ratta said of alumni.
In other business, trustees:
• approved a new three-year contract with about 450 full-time, non-tenure track faculty represented by the American Association of University Professors.
The agreement, approved earlier this month by the faculty, gives them a 2.25 percent raise in the first year and 2 percent in the second and third years.
They also will receive a $125-per-year longevity stipend for up to 16 years of employment.
• approved a 3.9 percent tuition increase for the KSU College of Podiatric Medicine for 2013-14. The podiatric college is on a different calendar from the rest of the university and bills for the fall semester in April. The university gets no stipends from the state for podiatric medicine students.
• approved a 3.89 percent increase in standard double room rates and 3.98 percent hike in the basic board plan.
• established a master’s degree in fashion design, which KSU said was the first program of its kind nationwide.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at email@example.com or 330-886-3729.