News Briefs


Return to Issue of March 23, 2009

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Be prepared for severe weather, including spring storms and tornadoes.

Severe Weather Safety Week is March 22 to 28; Expect Emergency Alert Notification Tests 

More than 111 tornadoes have been recorded in Ohio since 2000. Typically at peak season, beginning in April through the month of July, tornadoes are among nature’s deadliest storms, capable of enormous destruction and wind speeds in excess of 200 to 300 miles per hour.

Tornadoes generally originate as particularly violent thunderstorms. While they are most clearly identified by rotating, funnel-shaped air columns that stretch from the storm clouds to the ground, heavy rain or debris sometimes prevent the funnel from being clearly visible. Tornadoes can develop very quickly and, consequently, offer little to no warning of their approach.

In order to educate the public about emergency warning procedures and appropriate safety precautions, the week of March 22 to 28 has been designated as Severe Weather Safety Week. Additionally, Wednesday, March 25 has been selected as Tornado Awareness Day. On this day, the tornado warning signals throughout the entire state of Ohio will be activated at 9:50 a.m.

Kent State, the city of Kent and Franklin Township have an emergency outdoor warning system that provides residents with immediate notification of impending emergencies, such as tornadoes. When emergency conditions exist, the city of Kent, as well as Kent State, will activate an audible outdoor siren and during an actual emergency, its signal will sound for at least nine minutes. When the alarm is activated, everyone should go immediately to the nearest tornado shelter.

This emergency outdoor warning system is tested twice each month, on the first Wednesday at 11 a.m. and on the third Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Tests last only three minutes. It is not necessary to seek shelter during tests unless the siren continues past three minutes, at which time it should be assumed that a threatening situation exists.

Each university building has a key area or areas that have been identified as tornado shelters. As a general rule, shelter from tornadoes is best achieved in the lowest level of a building and away from windows and exterior walls, but not under wide, expansion-type roofs.

When an emergency signal has been activated, everyone should seek shelter and remain there until at least 20 minutes after the last siren has ceased. There is no "all clear" signal. After 20 minutes have passed without a warning from the siren, normal activities can resume.

Please do not call Police Services for verification of the emergency indicated by the siren. Instead, tune your radio to WPND-AM (1620), WNIR-FM (100.1) or WKSU-FM (89.7) for an update of weather conditions and the status of the emergency situation. These radio stations will provide information regarding the type and location of the emergency, instructions for what to do and where to go, as well as confirmation when danger has passed.

In addition to the warning siren system, each building on campus has been equipped with a Mass Notification System (MNS). When activated, the MNS will sound an alert tone, followed by information and instructions concerning the warning. Additional instructions and updates of the current emergency situation may be broadcast from this system. This system may be activated during situations that are not weather-related and may be independent of the emergency outdoor warning system.

For more details about these procedures, contact Matt Radigan, Department of Public Safety at 330-672-3111 or via e-mail at
mradigan@kent.edu. Additional information about tornado safety also can be found in the Department of Public Safety's Emergency Guide.

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Highlights of the March 18 Board of Trustees Meeting

At its March 18 meeting, the Kent State Board of Trustees took action on the following items:

Adjustment in Room and Board Rates

An overall 5.87 percent increase in the standard, undergraduate double-room and board rates was approved, effective fall semester 2009. The increases will allow the university to keep pace with changing student needs, help repay debt incurred for major construction and renovation of Kent Campus residence and dining facilities during the last several years and will help offset rising costs for utilities and food products.

Trustees noted that the increases will allow the university to continue operating its residence and dining programs on a self-sufficient basis while keeping room and board affordable for students and their families. The increases are expected to leave Kent State’s room and board rate among the lowest for Ohio’s residential campuses.

Under the new rates, for example, a standard double-occupancy room and a full meal plan will be $3,970 a semester, an increase of $220 from the current rate of $3,750.

Employee Separation Plan Announced

As part of Kent State University's multi-faceted efforts to contain costs and avoid program cuts, pay reductions and lay-offs during the current economic crisis, the Board authorized Educators Preferred Corporation (EPC) to oversee a plan that would give longtime faculty and staff members the option to leave university employment at the end of the current fiscal year.

Under the plan, employees with at least 15 years of service at the university as of June 30, 2009, and who agree to leave university employment on June 30, 2009, will receive a payment based on their employment classification and salary:

  • Tenure-track faculty members who participate in the plan will receive 100 percent of their base salary as of June 30, 2009, not to exceed $65,000;
  • Non-tenure track faculty members will receive 100 percent of their base salary as of June 30, 2009, not to exceed $35,000;
  • Unclassified employees will receive 100 percent of their base salary as of June 30, 2009, not to exceed $55,000;
  • Classified employees not represented by a bargaining unit will receive 100 percent of their base salary as of June 30, 2009, not to exceed $30,000; and
  • Classified employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will receive 100 percent of their base salary as of June 30, 2009, not to exceed $20,000.

The payments will be made over an eight-year period for employees who do not retire, and over five years for those who do choose to retire.

All eligible employees will receive detailed information about the separation plan and will be able to meet individually with an EPC representative to discuss their options. Employees will have until May 22, 2009, to make a decision about participation in the plan.

Establishment of Exercise Science Major
In response to documented, growing student interest in the rapidly growing allied health care industry, the Board established a major in exercise science within Kent State’s College of Education, Health and Human Services. The new bachelor of science degree program, to be offered through the School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport, is effective fall semester 2009.

More information about the Trustees’ actions can be found
online.

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Save the Date for the 26th Annual Portfolio Fashion Show, Enigma


The Portfolio Fashion Show is a greatly anticipated annual event.

The Kent State University Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising announces the 26th Annual Portfolio Fashion Show, Enigma. Enigma features the innovative design collections of graduating seniors and select junior students and special guest Suede from "Project Runway".

A special VIP viewing and dinner will be held Friday, April 17, at 6 p.m. Ticket prices are available upon request. The general admission show is Saturday, April 18, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $65.

The student show will take place Thursday, April 16, at 8 p.m. With a student identification card, tickets are $20 to the student show. Non-students can purchase tickets for $65.

Tickets to the student show, general public show, and the VIP viewing and dinner may be ordered by calling 330-672-1175 or contacting KSUportfolio2009@gmail.com.

US News and World Report has consistently ranked the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising among the top ten schools for fashion design and merchandising in the nation. It is this standard of excellence that attracts the fashion industry leaders to Kent for the Portfolio Fashion Show each year.

For additional event information contact Jena Hygema at 330-672-4645, or through e-mail at
ksufashion@gmail.com.

For more information about the Shannon Rogers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, go to their
Web site.

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Legal Brief: Scanning and Storing of Public Documents

"Legal Briefs" appears in e-Inside
monthly to keep faculty and staff informed of legal issues and their implications. Content is provided by the Office of the University Counsel, whose mission is to ensure high-quality legal services to Kent State in a timely, cost-effective manner, to reduce litigation and to ensure legal compliance.

By law, public employees are required to ensure that all public records documents under the Ohio Public Records Act are protected and accessible. According to the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 9.01, "Preserving and Maintaining Official Records," university offices may use electronic storage in place of maintaining paper files. This includes original documents.

According to the ORC, a record can be reduced to electronic form and the originals discarded if four standards are met:

  • Reliability – The established format for the electronic record must be reliable and in a format that is commonly accepted (i.e., a TIF file);
  • Authenticity – The established procedure for document imaging must ensure the authenticity of the record and that it has not been tampered with or altered. Kent State uses software to track users as records are accessed and has tight controls to prevent unauthorized modifications of the document;
  • Integrity – The final production must maintain the document’s integrity in that it will exist in electronic storage in its complete form; and
  • Usability – The electronic document must be able to be retrieved and reproduced when necessary.

The university has an electronic filing system (Application Xtender or a similar interface) that has user-friendly document recovery features, as well as disaster recovery capabilities.

Because document imaging is a relatively new practice, there may be some exceptions to the above requirements for discarding original documents. In addition, even though a department transfers its records to an electronic format, the document ownership and retention responsibilities remain with the department. More information on best practices is available at the state of Ohio's Electronic Records Commission
Web site.

Electronic scanning of public records not only makes them easier to access in the future, but it also reduces the space required for storing paper files. Offices contemplating electronic record conversion should contact the project management office within Information Services to arrange a review of the files and to ensure scanning, indexing and storage is consistent with University standards. A list of project managers is available on the IS
Web site.

Questions concerning the retention of original documents should be directed to the Office of University Counsel at 330-672-2982.

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Tall Grass Behind Student Recreation and Wellness Center to Burn in Planned Effort


Photo by Bob Christy

The grasses will burn in a planned effort to aid growth this season.

Don't be alarmed when you see a fire raging behind the Student Recreation and Wellness Center this April. The area will be burning on purpose.

The tall grass, located directly behind and in an area in front of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, will be burned in the early part of April. The burn is dependent on the weather and the wind, so the exact date has yet to be determined.

Heather White, manager, Campus Environment and Operations, said the burn should last around an hour.

"The healthier the grass, the faster the burn goes," she says. "It sweeps right through."

The city of Kent Fire Department is in control of the burn and also determines when the conditions are appropriate for the burn to take place.

The burn clears away dead grass and leaves and allows for growth for the upcoming summer. The former years' tall grass has been removed in this manner every year since 2004.

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Human Resources Question of the Week: Are there any new training courses available to university employees?

Yes. The Division of Human Resources offers a catalog of professional development and training programs for faculty and staff. Recently two new courses were launched and are intended for classified and unclassified employees and faculty with no supervisory responsibility.

The two courses are Principles of Conflict Management and Dealing With Difficult Behaviors. Both courses are designed to give participants the knowledge and skills to help university personnel deal with conflict in a constructive fashion and handle difficult behaviors in a professional manner. You can view a schedule of these and other HR workshops online. To register for the workshops, click here.

For more information, contact Renee Romine at 330-672-0898 or mromine@kent.edu.

View the HR Question of the Week archive.

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New University Controller Appointed 


Photo by Bob Christy

Tammy M. Slusser

Gregg S. Floyd, vice president for finance and administration recently announced the appointment of Tammy M. Slusser to the position of controller, effective March 15.

 

Slusser was hired at Kent State University in 2004 as manager of accounting, and has most recently served as its interim comptroller. She brings to the position a wide range of experience and expertise in the financial accounting arena.

 

As controller for the university, Slusser will oversee and administer the areas of financial accounting, governmental accounting, accounts payable and accounts receivable.

 

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