With the help of humor, Kent Mayor John Fender spoke about the unique relationship between Kent State University and the city this morning during the semi-annual Bowman Breakfast in the Kent Student Center.
Sponsored by the Kent Chamber of Commerce and Kent State University, about 200 people attended the breakfast, where they were urged by Fender to get involved in the Town/Gown partnership.
"Mutually, the community has benefits they can give the university and the university can also reciprocate," he said. "I challenge you to become part of a great community. I challenge you to become involved."
In addition to sharing several comic strips with the audience during his address, Fender focused on past accomplishments of the partnership and future goals for KSU and the city.
"In 1994, 48 people got together to ask 'what can we do to make the town/gown better?' One of the best accomplishments was the Town/Gown Committee. It opened the door to talk and to have dialogue," he said.
"We have to be cheerleaders and spokespeople for our accomplishments," he added. "Know what is happening between the city and the university and be a spokesperson."
Fender also acknowledged problems between the city and KSU, including zoning for off-campus housing, but said the two entities were working together to solve those problems.
"As the university and the town evolve, we're going to have problems," he said, adding the city is looking to solve the need for on- and off-campus Greek housing. "We need to welcome our students and make sure they understand our ordinances. We in the city need to do a better job of that.
"We are a very large family, when Kent State is in session, there are 55,000 (people in the city), " Fender said. "There are ways for everyone to win."
Fender also shared his goals as mayor, including being a spokesman for the positive programs the city and KSU take part in.
"I will bring together, whenever possible, the university and the town. I want to continue that and make it better," he said. "For those of you who know me, I'm a very positive guy. I want to be a positive spokesman for Kent State and the city so people know what we're doing."
Fender also suggested way in which audience members can get involved in bettering the town/gown partnership.
"I know you're busy, we're all busy. One of the basic reasons I ran (for mayor) is because I felt I could help," he said. "Don't wait until retirement to help. I hope that you become part of a great collaboration in whatever way you can. This is a great community to live in."