As he prepared to welcome a new cohort of freshmen, Kent State University’s 13th president, Todd Diacon, Ph.D., recently sat down with the Record-Courier and discussed some of his priorities for his inaugural year and beyond.

Among the highlights:

1. Increase enrollment: With its regional campuses that offer associate’s degrees, certificates and training programs, Kent State is uniquely suited to meet the needs of every high school graduate, even amid a projected double-digit decline in college-aged students in the coming years, Diacon says.

2. Keep KSU affordable: Diacon wants to find efficiencies to free up money for need-based financial aid. He also wants to help students graduate in four years.

3. Maintain the town-gown relationship: Last week, Diacon had his first monthly meeting with Kent City Manager Dave Ruller to discuss topics like housing, business development, business location and relocation, legislation and opportunities to increase the university’s presence downtown.

4. Advance the strategic plan: Diacon was tapped as the new president in part because of his heavy involvement in developing the university’s $1 billion, 10-year master plan. The university is currently in Phase 1 of the plan, which includes a new College of Business Administration Building.

5. Protect the legacy of May 4: Diacon’s first year as president coincides with the 50th Commemoration of May 4, 1970. Throughout the school year, there will be more than 100 events that will look back at the event, discuss it in a modern context and, he says, “remind the world of the dangers of polarization.”