The Kent State University Geauga Campus in Burton will be getting a new look starting in the summer of 2022.

During a virtual meeting on Feb. 24, Dean and Chief Administrative Officer Angela Spalsbury presented campus renovation plans while kicking off the fundraising campaign with a goal of $1.2 million.

“In 2019, all of the regional campuses in Kent State began a master planning process, which concluded about a year ago,” said Ms. Spalsbury. “We had three key themes and this was throughout all of Kent State regional campuses.”

Ms. Spalsbury said the first theme of the process was to demonstrate continued commitment to surrounding communities as educational destinations.

Under this theme, one of the recommendations would be to provide academic programs that support credential attainment, workforce development and lifelong learning that addresses the unique needs of each community.

The second theme was to improve the student experience that includes creating educational environments that foster collaboration, connections and create environments that address the needs of students beyond education.

The third and final theme was to reinforce the campus identities and access, she said. This included updating facilities to reflect the quality of the institution and to strengthen first-time visitor experiences.

“We are the only institution of higher education in Geauga County and we serve approximately 800 to 1,000 students each year,” said Ms. Spalsbury. “Students can complete over 20 different degrees both bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and certificates.”

The renovation plans consist of exterior building updates, transforming the current nursing skills lab, classroom and current student lounge into a new student learning commons and transforming the library into a new nursing lab and classroom.

“We are not expanding our building,” she said. Instead, “we are using our current space better.

“The entire renovation is just over 5,000 square feet, and we have not had a major renovation here in several decades,” she added, “so our facility is outdated and really needs to be modernized in some aspects.”

An outdoor campus patio area adjacent to a student lounge will be getting a mini-makeover, she said. This area faces the soon to be completed new Berkshire Local School District pre-kindergarten through 12th grade building adjacent to the KSU Geauga campus.

“This will be the entrance that students from that school or visitors from that school see,” said Ms. Spalsbury. “Our plans are to add more vibrant signage so that visitors know this is Kent State.”

The next renovation plan includes transforming a current student lounge into a new student learning commons.

“The learning commons will be a multipurpose area where students can study individually, work together in groups, have the ability to access library services and even get something to eat,” said Ms. Spalsbury. “We know that our campus is used as a community center for events, networking and meeting spaces for many organizations surrounding the campus and we’re very grateful for the community’s use of our building, but it does displace our students’ main studying area, so the Learning Commons will give our students a dedicated study and collaborative space.”

A final piece of the proposed renovation is to transform a current campus library into a new nursing lab and classroom, tripling the amount of space for the program.

In what was formerly a maintenance garage is currently a small nursing classroom which holds around 20 students and a lab facility with only four hospital beds.The new nursing skills lab and classroom would be a much larger, more collaborative space.

“We will be able to see approximately 36 students in the new classroom,” said Ms. Spalsbury. “There’s also a moveable glass wall between the classroom area and the skills lab, which will allow for multiple lessons to occur at the same time, and we’re doubling our bed capacity with eight beds.”

A major component of the nursing lab is the simulation labs with a control room in the middle that provide nursing students with hands-on experience.

“They provide our nursing students with hands-on interaction with a variety of simulations and simulated patients and by practicing these mock scenarios with the Sandman, students can carry out critical decision-making skills, really in a risk-free teaching environment,” said Ms. Spalsbury. “They then get feedback from our excellent nursing faculty, and this is just so important to their development as nurses.”

The timeline for renovations will occur during the summer of 2022 while classes are not in session. “Since we’re renovating, we’ll be renovating academic spaces and renovations need to happen over the summer when we’re not running those courses,” said Ms. Spalsbury. “Students want to get back on campus and interact with one another, and they will someday very soon.”

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