CLEVELAND: Kent State University’s board of trustees gave its nod of approval Wednesday to a smoke-free campus and adding a new sports program — women’s lacrosse.

The board also approved new room and board rates for residence halls and the establishment of a center for the study of gender and sexuality.

The board held its quarterly meeting at the Ernst & Young accounting firm in Cleveland’s Flats district. The board, which often goes on the road to push its regional campus concept, met with Cleveland and Cuyahoga County leaders for breakfast prior to a day of meetings.

Kent State President Beverly Warren and her cabinet have already begun taking steps to make Kent State a smoke- and tobacco-free campus — including e-cigarettes — by July 1, 2017.

“This is an administrative policy, but we are seeking your endorsement,” Warren told the board. “It’s in support of the university’s Healthy Campus 2020 initiative.”

Shay Little, Kent State’s interim vice president for student affairs, told the board the president’s cabinet came up with seven health-conscious priorities, but will focus primarily on the no-smoking policy.

“We see changing that culture of smoking as a key tipping point of making that healthy campus change,” Little said. “We don’t think we can promote a health-and-wellness environment across campus without doing this first.”

Little said studies show that less than one and a half percent of adult smokers begin smoking after the age of 26, so there is a great potential to target the traditional age students on campus.

The university’s current policy limits smoking and tobacco use to at least 20 feet away from buildings and bans it in university vehicles.

KSU will join other campuses across the nation taking part in Wednesday’s “1Day Stand Against Tobacco.”

The Undergraduate Student Government recently passed a resolution supporting a ban on cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, oral tobacco and hookah products.

Athletics addition

Women’s lacrosse is set to become the first addition to Kent’s sports program since 1997, when women’s golf and women’s soccer were added. KSU currently has 18 sports: 10 female and 8 male programs.

KSU Athletic Director Joel Nielsen hopes to have the lacrosse team in its first competitive season in 2018-2019.

“It’s a fast-growing sport,” he said. “We’re in a hot pocket in Northeast Ohio for both men and women.”

The program will share the university’s field hockey facility; lacrosse is played during spring and field hockey in the fall.

“I don’t have to go out and fundraise and build from scratch for them to practice and compete,” he said.

Nielsen said there are 38 teams in driving distance to compete against, including Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame. He said about $500,000 will be needed in seed money for scholarships, staffing and operations.

Other actions

The board signed off on new room and board fees starting in the fall semester for 25 residence halls that house about 6,500 students.

A change in the room rate structure simplifies the rates to provide more flexibility and less disparity. Some rates are going up and some are going down. The range includes decreasing rates by nearly $900 — or 15.21 percent — for a single apartment with less space to increasing a standard single room by $342 — or 9.81 percent. The standard double room will cost $3,380 per semester. The basic meal plan will cost $1,980 per semester, a $45 increase over last year.

The board also approved the creation of a center for the study of gender and sexuality that will be housed in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The purpose is to build on the successes of programs that have increased the recruitment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students and meet the demand for more courses.

The center will develop a multidisciplinary Bachelor of Arts degree in gender and sexuality studies.

Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or mmiller@thebeaconjournal.com.