WORDS BY MEG AYSCUE
ILLUSTRATION BY THOMAS HAASE
PHOTOS BY SAMANTHA KARAM
The Burr took a huge leap, changing from the Chestnut Burr Yearbook to The Burr Magazine in 1986. During those 30 years, a lot has changed between Kent State’s campus and the city of Kent itself.
While countless buildings around campus were renovated to keep up with the times, or due to residence hall fires that seemed to pop up every few years, there are a few structures that came about or changed drastically.
In the area of athletics, the biggest structures to mention are the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center (M.A.C.) and Dix Stadium.
While it was built in 1952, the M.A.C. Center was renovated in 1992. It received interior renovations, according to kentstatesports.com, such as team rooms, galleries, trophy rooms and the Blue and Gold Club Lodge.
In 2006, further renovations brought “a new parquet floor and a pair of video sideboards for replays and graphics.” A new lighting system was installed in 2014, and more updates will be installed in the near future, such as new seating and practice areas.
On the far side of campus, Dix Stadium underwent major changes, starting in 1992. An elevator was added to reach the press box and permanent lighting was installed, because even though night games had been played since 1990, the lighting was only temporary. In 1997-98, a scoreboard and artificial turf were added.
The stadium was renovated again, with construction beginning in 2007 and completed in 2008. These Phase II renovations included concessions, a new scoreboard, a videoboard, a sound system, additional parking, better entrance/entryways and general aesthetic improvements.
There are also several different buildings that were created in the past 30 years in the areas of science. The Science and Research Building was built in 1986, followed by the Mathematical Sciences Building in 1992 and finally, the Liquid Crystals Materials Science Building in 1996.
These were all important buildings, especially after Kent State received a Research University II designation in 1994, which is now called a Doctoral/ResearchUniversity-Extensive.
Later, some buildings were rebuilt and others were repurposed.
While Stopher-Johnson Hall was originally created in 1949, it was demolished in 2004 and reopened in 2006. This project cost $25 million.
While the new residence hall was being built, the history of May 4th was kept in mind. The new buildings were constructed, according to Kent State’s official site, “in the footprints of the original buildings.”
Plans for the May 4 Visitors Center were announced in 2008 and the center was opened on the 43rd anniversary of the shootings in 2013. According to thenation.com, “all sixteen deans from every campus pitched in a total of $667,000 of the one million dollar cost of the new Center.”
It’s hard to find a building that hasn’t been renovated over the past 30 years, but there are a few that have had more done than others, namely Bowman, Franklin and Rockwell halls.
“Some of most of the important changes are the methodical improvements to some of our older buildings to bring them up to modern standards, rather than investing in brand new buildings and letting the old buildings fall apart,” says Thomas Euclide, associate vice president of Facilities, Planning and Operations at Kent State.
Bowman was renovated in 1992 for $300,000, and the changes included two computer labs, one large meeting room, 24 faculty offices, two secretarial offices and three administrative offices. In 2015, Bowman’s fire alarm system was replaced; the building also received new windows and roofing.
Franklin had a two-year renovation and expansion completed in 2007, which moved the journalism and mass communication majors together into one building. As part of the updates, $2.5 million in equipment was brought in for students.
In 1987, the School of Journalism and the Division of Telecommunication in the School of Speech merged to become the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. In 2002, the College of Communication and Information was formed. After the renovations were completed and the JMC school moved, the journalism educators master’s degree program began, the Center for Scholastic Journalism was formed, and in 2013, JMC students and student media had a record-breaking year in “national collegiate award programs,” according to Kent State’s website.
Rockwell Hall renovations were completed in 1986 and 1990. While Rockwell used to house the library at Kent State, it is now the Fashion Museum and the School of Fashion building.
According to a “Daily Kent Stater” article from 1989, “contractors stripped the building’s interior to its bare structure, including the mechanical, plumbing and electrical fixtures as part of the $4 million project.”
“It’s a far more modern campus now than it was then,” says Leonne Hudson, an associate professor of history who has been affiliated with Kent State for the last 30 years.
“We have a lot more new buildings [and] the architecture is a lot different than it was 30 years ago.”
The changes to the campus didn’t just affect the landscape, however.
“We’ve given the students, through the changes of the campus, more opportunities to make it their home rather than just a place to go to school,” Euclide says.
In the past 30 years, Kent State has been progressive: Its LGBTQ Center has been a part of Kent State’s campus since 1971, and Carol Cartwright was appointed the president of the university in March 1991, making her the first female to hold this position at any state university in Ohio.
“I think the university itself is more diverse, not only with the student population, but also with the faculty and the administrators as well,” Hudson says. “I can see where we’ve changed in terms of our diversity, in terms of the number of women and minority groups that have been hired, our first female president… all of that was progress at Kent State University.”
Beyond the campus, the city of Kent has experienced renovations of its own.
“That’s one of our shining stars, our downtown,” Hudson says, “because I can remember what it was like 30 years ago… now, and it’s totally different.”
Before the actual renovation of downtown, several buildings were already undergoing restoration and redevelopment, including the Home Savings Bank and Plaza, Ray’s Place, Water Street Tavern and the Pufferbelly Ltd.
“It’s more than just the buildings,” Euclide says, “it’s the entire community.”
Seven “clusters” were changed downtown, according to a 2007 Request for Qualifications from Downtown Kent Redevelopment Project. First was incremental growth with the Main Street corridor, where the architectural appeal and historical relevance didn’t need to be changed, so only small adjustments were made. Second was parking, which was expanded; third was redevelopment in areas with few buildings; and fourth was the new hotel and conference center.
The fifth cluster created a new fire station, city hall, council chambers and police station. The sixth expanded downtown housing; and the seventh anchored and created more flow between the west gate, where Chipotle and Starbucks are, and the downtown area.
“We’re now connected by the Esplanade, and what was far off many years ago, is only a few steps away,” Hudson says.
The Esplanade was created to connect Kent State students to the downtown area. All of the new buildings and renovations made the area more inviting and interesting. In 2013, all updates and installations were completed.
Kent State is still transforming, though. New buildings are being built and other buildings are changing. This includes Dunbar Hall, Korb Hall, Lake and Olson Halls, Tri-Towers and the science buildings.
As far as Dunbar, according to the Kent State website, “this project will upgrade the shower and toilet rooms on the second and third floors” to provide “private shower/toilet rooms similar to the facilities installed in both Prentice and Verder Halls.” The project will cost $987,120.
Korb Hall, which is also becoming the LGBTQ Living-Learning Community, will have repairs to piping, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems . Room improvements for Korb include carpeting and the removal of the built-in wardrobe units. The project will amount to $7 million.
For both Lake and Olson, several improvements will take place during the summer of 2017. These include carpeting and paint, a new roofing system, and a new, four-pipe system and fan coil units, costing $3.5 million for each hall
Tri-Towers’ rotunda is also being upgraded. There will be some remodeling and more space, and should be complete by fall 2017. The building will be occupied during construction, and the project will cost $2.36 million.
More work will also be done with the Science Mall, including the construction of a new Integrated Sciences Building (ISB) and the renovations of Cunningham, Smith and Williams halls, “to provide a cohesive approach to science instruction and research space in these areas.” These projects will add up to $80 million.
Euclide says another building that is going to be constructed is an international-themed residence hall.
“The international population on campus has probably seen the most dramatic change over the years that I’ve worked here,” Euclide says. He goes further, saying that it is important that “international students that are here can also feel like this is a place they can call home.”
They hope to break ground on this residence hall over the summer.
“The world is much smaller now than it was 30 years ago,” Hudson says. “Kent State understands that we are do not operate in a vacuum—we are part of the whole—and I think it’s very significant that we keep that mindset as we go forward.”