Innovative Agreement May Save Van Campen Hall
An older building on campus, Van Campen Hall, has been saved from demolition by a potential new agreement with BahÇesehir University in Istanbul, Turkey. The agreement, which may be finalized by April, builds on Kent State University’s internationalization plan to increase the revenue-generating capacity of Kent State’s international affairs, as well as increase the number of international students and scholars on the Kent Campus.
In June 2007, Kent State President Dr. Lester A. Lefton traveled to BahÇesehir University to give the keynote speech at commencement. That trip resulted in laying the groundwork for renovation negotiations of Van Campen Hall by Vice Provost Dr. Steve O. Michael.
“Van Campen was slated for demolition, but it was going to cost the university a lot of money,” says Michael, who negotiated the deal. “Part of Kent State’s internationalization effort is to create its presence overseas and work with foreign universities to establish ties here at Kent State, which is exactly what this agreement will do.”
Funded by BahÇesehir University, the potential several-million-dollar renovation and lease of Van Campen Hall would provide space to establish a Center for Turkish Studies. The center would offer students practical, experiential training in an English as a second language program. In addition, the center would conduct research and extend outreach services to companies interested in doing business in Turkey.
For the past six years, Kent State University and BahÇesehir University have had a memorandum of understanding that includes sending faculty and students to Turkey, and in return, receiving their students and faculty at Kent State.
“Our relationship with BahÇesehir University has built a pipeline for graduates to attend Kent State for their graduate work,” says Michael.
Currently, 30 BahÇesehir University graduates are studying at Kent State for their master’s degree in areas such as education, technology and communication studies, in addition to taking ESL courses. BahÇesehir University would like to send current students to Kent State for a semester-long study abroad experience as well.
Kent State also has close ties to Turkey through the Department of Justice Studies, the College of Nursing, the College of Education, Health and Human Services (EHHS) and the Water Resources Research Institute. Dr. Linda Robertson, director of the Center for International and Intercultural Education, acknowledges that EHHS has several ongoing initiatives with BahÇesehir University. Provost Dr. Robert Frank provides the overall approval for all academic programs and initiatives with foreign institutions.