Editor's note: this story was updated at 11:30 a.m. June 12.
Kent State University's Board of Trustees have signed off on a $616.5 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year that President Lester Lefton said "reflects the university's priorities."
The eight-campus budget also reflects a 31 percent increase in the past five budgets despite deep .
This fiscal year, which spans from July 1 2012 to June 30 2013, Kent State's eight-campus budget is 31 percent larger than the fiscal year 2009 budget. Four years ago, Kent State spread a $470 million budget across all eight campuses.
The budget rose slightly in 2010 to about $491 million, a 4.5 percent rise, but it wasn't until 2011 that the university's budget rose substantially to $544.2 million — an increase of 10.8 percent. The budget rose again, by 5.5 percent, to $574.2 million for fiscal year 2012.
Then this year the budget again saw a year-over-year increase of about 7.4 percent to the $616.5 million figure. The trustees approved the budget last week, and it includes the $12.9 million budget for the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, which merges into Kent State effective July 1.
Lefton said the priorities reflected in the budget include putting students first, and to do that Kent State has to invest in high-quality faculty, facilities and other resources.
"What we’re trying to do through our budget is to be responsive, responsible and also forward-thinking," Lefton said. "And the forward-thinking part involves making investments in our future. That’s why we’re spending money on . That’s why we’re spending money on campus."
This year, Kent State starts the in the history of its main campus that will be paid for primarily by issued this summer.
The new construction and renovation work happens as legislators in Columbus cut financial support to Ohio's second-largest university. In fiscal year 2012 the university saw a 13.1 percent, or about $12 million, cut in state dollars.
However, Kent State has been able to offset losses in state money to some extent.
The university has broken its fundraising record three years running, and the university's Centennial Campaign just surpassed $260 million — its initial goal was $250 million. The campaign was meant to raise money primarily for student scholarships while also supporting the university's endowment, capital renovations and expansions and the general operating budget.
Lefton said the budget also includes room for hiring more faculty and staff, particularly student advisers, and investments in academic programming and distance learning.
The budget may be rising, but Lefton pointed out that Kent State's tuition remains mid-pack compared with the rest of Ohio's public universities. Kent State's tuition, room and board costs are higher only than Wright State University, Youngstown State University and Bowling Green State University among Ohio's selective public colleges, according to Kent State.
"All this construction will position Kent State and the city of Kent for the next 20 years," Lefton said. “We’ve just begun to achieve our new future."
Click on this link to review Kent State's past budgets.