May 4 Visitors Center opens on Kent State campus

Staff report


Kent State University will officially open its much-anticipated May 4 Visitors Center today as part of the university’s Homecoming celebration.

The public is invited to experience the center’s dramatic exhibits at an open house from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Visitors to the open house will receive a special May 4 commemorative gift, while supplies last.

On May 4, 1970, Kent State was placed in an international spotlight after a student protest against the Vietnam War and the presence of the Ohio National Guard on campus ended in tragedy. Thirteen seconds of rifle fire by 28 Ohio National Guardsmen left four students dead, one permanently paralyzed and eight others wounded.

Using images, artifacts and multimedia, the center’s exhibits tell the story of the decade leading up to May 4, 1970, the events of that day, the aftermath and the historical impact.

“May 4 was a historic event for our university, the nation and the world,” said Kent State President Lester A. Lefton. “The May 4 Visitors Center provides an opportunity for members of our community and beyond to better understand the events of that day set against the political and cultural changes of the times in which they took place.”

Laura Davis, director of the May 4 Visitors Center and a Kent State freshman in 1970 who witnessed the shootings, said, “Historians cite the Kent State shootings as a watershed moment in U.S. history and an important turning point in the consciousness of Americans about the Vietnam War.

“The May 4 Visitors Center offers a powerful and immersive experience that provides context and perspective on the tragedy, and examines the lasting impact that still resonates today,” Davis added. “From the perspective of more than 40 years, the visitors center experience remembers the students who lost their lives on May 4 — Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder — while offering meaning for today in their loss.”

Over the past five years, scholars from Kent State worked with humanities scholars, consultants, community leaders, veterans and students to determine content.

Members of the public and campus, local historians and community leaders contributed ideas through public forums and focus groups.

The cost for the design and construction of the center was $1.1 million. Funding included contributions from the public, veterans groups, a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities and $667,000 from all 16 deans from every Kent State campus and college, an expression of the university’s national leadership role in promoting nonviolence and democratic values.

The May 4 Visitors Center is in Room 101 of Taylor Hall at 300 Midway Drive on the Kent State campus. For 2012, beginning Monday, the center will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday. Admission is free. The center also will be open by appointment for group tours. Call 330-672-4660 or email for more information.

A formal dedication of the center will take place in 2013 as part of the university’s annual May 4 commemoration activities.

For more information about the Kent State University May 4 Visitors Center, visit

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