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Keeping Kent Open

Keeping Kent Open

In the Aftermath of Tragedy: Faculty Rallies to Help Students

When this campus was closed in 1970, there were students who had to be taught; there were students who expected to graduate. Professors took them into their homes; they housed them, fed them, taught them. Nobody talks about that ... the University went on literally underground; this University was in fact never closed ... so if anybody asks you, how do you account for the survival of Kent State University, tell them it's the faculty.

Dr. Michael Schwartz, President Emeritus, Kent State University
Kent State/May 4: Echoes Through a Decade, Scott L. Bills, Editor


On the afternoon of May 4, 1970, Judge Albert L. Caris of the Portage County Court of Common Pleas granted an injunction "restraining the administration of Kent State University from operating the university until this court is satisfied that said operation could be conducted in a safe manner." (The injunction was modified to allow full-time faculty members and civil service and administrative staff to return to campus weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

With Kent legally closed, the faculty voted before the week was out to complete their courses by any means necessary.

Students were advised to study independently until they were contacted by individual professors, most of whom were busy gathering materials that would be the first of numerous mass mailings to thousands of students. The goal: to help students complete courses, and, in about 1,900 cases, to help students graduate.

As a University-produced account of the times put it: "It would be impossible to go into all of the ways in which classes were conducted. The ways were as varied as the listings in the catalog of courses."

On June 13, 1970, 40 days after the University closed its classrooms, 1,250 seniors and graduate students returned to the Kent Campus to receive degrees.