Kent -- Kent State University is vowing to make sure the correct tools are in place to achieve the highest graduation rate possible.
President Beverly Warren introduced the Kent State Promise, which serves as the focal point to achieving that student success, during her annual "State of the University" address Oct. 13.
"This year, I have been thinking about how we become a more distinctive university through the re-imagination of our university's purpose and how we truly bring to life our vision of bettering society," Warren said.
She emphasized the Kent State Promise is not something that begins and ends just with financial support, but should be a more comprehensive approach to student success and fulfillment.
"The Kent State Promise is about academic quality with access and affordability as a trigger point to make sure that we are accepting students who need a chance to succeed and we are seeing them to the finish line," she said.
Warren broke down some of the plans in place to fulfill the commitment.
"We must commit to the success of all students," she said. "Beginning this year, we are doing this through an academic program called DEEDS [Dynamic Engagement and Education of Diverse Students].
"DEEDS is a structure to support students from different cultures and race to be more successful through support structures. We're initiating a completion fund where a student who is in good standing, all they need to do is complete their senior year and we see them to the finish line [financially]."
Warren said the goal is to attend to a climate that helps all students succeed. KSU's goal is to achieve an 85 percent retention rate and a 65 percent graduation rate.
"Another thing we are doing with DEEDS that will be expanded to all students, is the start of this career services preparation in our students' freshman year," she said.
"Often times, students wait until their senior year to look for jobs. In this program, we start with career aspirations in the freshman year. We build on that and help them get real-world experience so that by the time they reach their senior year, they are well-qualified and prepared to graduate
"Our promise is not just financial. If we admit students, we are saying we have a promise to support them to the finish line. That's more of what the promise is about."
Warren also touched on KSU's "First-Year Experience" mission.
"We really find that if students try to figure out what they want to do with their lives before they figure out the major, they have a much better chance to succeed," Warren said.
"What we are trying to do is have students figure out what will give meaning to their lives and motivate them. Then we place a major in that context. It's working already."
Warren also said KSU is looking to double its efforts and results in research, as well as provide an ecosystem for learning and achievement.
"Today, we are called to dream about the next big thing for Kent State that will establish this university as the place where the promise of a transformational education and research environment is kept," she said.
She added the university is bringing together a team of researchers in a multi-disciplinary environment, from the neurosciences, psychological sciences and exercise sciences, to health, education and disciplines in the humanities.
According to Warren, the university is looking to build and cultivate an innovation ecosystem where design and science not only intersect, but work together.
"We've seen this in our College of Applied Engineering, Science and Technology where student Joshua Ishihara designed a technologically-enhanced glove that permits those who speak sign language to communicate with those who do not," Warren said.
"We've seen it in our Fashion Hackathon, a partnership between the Fashion School's TechStyleLAB and KSU's LaunchNET, that aims to create wearable technology that can only be imagined by those with a futuristic mindset."
Warren said a KSU Innovation Ecosystem will establish the university as the place where design and science converge to invent the future.
"Imagine the ways our graduates, our translational research and our community engagement will change the world when we approach every challenge and opportunity with a design thinking frame of mind," Warren said.
"We believe this will elevate our region as a new birthplace of ideas that make a difference because they were designed that way.
"We have the ability to dream like this because we are a community that understands the importance of being good stewards of our collective resources."
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