External Relations and Philanthropy committee receives over $10.7 million in donations for board approval


Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement Valoree Vargo presented information relating to university philanthropy and finances at the External Relations and Philanthropy committee meeting Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. The university received over $10.7 million in donations for the new Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship. 

Alexandra Golden Reporter

Kent State University received over $10.7 million in donations for the new Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship at the External Relations and Philanthropy committee meeting Friday. Ambassador Edward F. Crawford donated the largest single gift amount in the university’s history for the construction and naming of the building. 

The Board of Trustees has to approve the 16 donations at its Dec. 15 meeting since they are more than $100,000 each, Board of Trustee member Virginia Addicott said. There were seven donations of $1,000,000 or more. 

One of the donations was for the $1,500,000 Henry and Louise Timken Atrium for the Aeronautics and Engineering Building. 

“This gift was a successful team effort between Dean Bloebaum and the leadership of the Timken Foundation and the university,” said Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement Valoree Vargo. We are very grateful for this commitment to the college.” 

The other six donations were for Crawford Hall, the future home of the College Business and Entrepreneurship, including: 

  • Robert M. And Janet L. Archer Kent Water Sport Trading Lab and Robert M. And Jane L. Archer Kent Water Sports Business Analytics Lab – $2,000,000. Robert Archer received his MBA from Kent State in 1961 with a focus in management science. The labs will allow students “to gain vital experience and training in this crucial and expanding component of business practice,” Vargo said.

  • James R. Unger Global Forum – $1,500,000. Unger is a 1967 graduate with a bachelors of business administration in management science and his wife, Evelyn F. Unger, is a 1972 elementary education alumna. The 400 seat global forum will serve as a lecture hall and event space for the College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

  • Matthew E. And Nancy S. Likens Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship Suite – $1,000,000. Matthew graduated from Kent State University in 1975 with a BBA in marketing and Nancy graduated the same year with a BA in deaf education.

  • Medical Mutual Community Welcome Court – $1,000,000. Medical Mutual maintained a partnership with Kent State University for many years and served as the primary health benefits provider for university employees. 

  • Walter G. And Judy A. Van Benthuysen Collaboration Staircase – $1,000,000. Walter graduated from Kent State University in 1961 with a degree in business administration. 

  • John S. Brinzo Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation and John S. Brinzo Entrepreneurship Laboratory – $1,536,381. Brinzo graduated with a bachelor of science in business administration from Kent State University in 1964. The center will host the college’s annual pitch competition and a variety of activities, Vargo said. 

There were nine additional gifts between $100,000 and $750,000, which include: 

  • Arthur and Susan Karas Behavioral Research Hub – $750,000. Arthur is a 1978 accounting alumnus. 

  • Timothy D. Eippert Boardroom – $600,000. Eippert is a 1992 marketing alumnus and has served on the Kent State University’s Board of Foundation Directors for more than 15 years.

  • Simulated Environments Inc Investment Team Area – $250,000. SEI investments manages the invested assets of the university. 

  • Robert D. Hisrich Faculty and Staff Lounge – $150,000. Hisrich serves as the Bridgestone Chair of international marketing and the Director of the Global Management Center in the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship 

  • Angelo and Joyce Kinicki Classroom – $150,000. Angelo received his undergraduate degree in management science and his MBA and Doctorate in organizational science from Kent State University. Joyce is a 1980 management science aluma. 

  • Katy Dix Brahler Conference Room – $100,000. Katy received her BBA in real estate and finance in 1989. Gary Brahler received his BBA in marketing and is a past chair and current member of Kent State University Board of Directors.

  • Barry E. And Jo Ann Fetterman Stock Ticker – $100,000. Barry received his BBA in marketing from Kent State University in 1974 and his MBA in 1976. He currently serves on both the Foundation Board of Directors and on the University’s Board of Trustees. “The stock ticker will be a highly visible installation that will show current stock information and will also serve as a communication platform for the building,” Vargo said.

  • The Greg and Kathy Long and Ralph R. And Grace B. Jones Foundation Welcome Center and Reception Area – $100,000. Greg Long graduated from Kent State University in 1971 with a BBA in management science. Grace Jones currently serves on the Kent State Foundation Board of Directors.

  • R. Louis Schneeberger Student Success Reception Area – $100,000. Schneeberger received his BBA in accounting from Kent State University in 1977.

President Todd Diacon approved nine additional donations since the university president is granted authority to approve gifts that are under $100,000, Vargo said. These donations include the:

  • Jean Wolford Study Lounge by Gregg and Marjorie Vignos 

  • William McKean and Mary Ann Williams Dean’s Office

  • Stephen M. Hawley Team Area

  • S. Bruce and Eleanor W. Heister Finance Chair Office

  • The Polatajko Family Focus Group and Observation Rooms

  • Salvatore and Carmela Volpe Collaboration Space

  • Lt. Colonel Kevin W. Blanchard Office

  • Ken and Kathy Haber Team Area

  • Nicholas and Cathleen Square Team Area

Along with the donations, Vargo provided updated figures from the university’s fundraising efforts this semester. 

Since July 1, $60,500,000 has been raised with the goal being $30,000,000, Vargo said. 

“This is the strongest start we’ve ever had at Kent State for the period of July through November,” Vargo said. “Prior to this year we had never passed the 15 million dollar mark by this time at the end of November.” 

Last year’s Giving Tuesday raised $2,300,000. This year’s helped Forever Brighter raise $7,712,753 with $1,300,000 million being from matching gifts and cash and roughly $6,500,000 million from planned gifts and estate pledges, Vargo said.

The campaign has a $350,000,000 goal and as of Friday they have crossed the $315,000,000 mark, Vargo said. The campaign is slated to end at the end of June 2024. 

“Prioritizing Student Success has a $100,000,000 goal and has raised $97,700,00 so far,” Vargo said. 

Kent State’s College of Podiatric Medicine received a $10,000,000 gift from the Podiatry Foundation. This will fund scholarships, research and continuing medical education programs within the College of Podiatric Medicine, the slide presented stated. 

“This year, we have received more principal gifts and leadership gifts than ever before,” Vargo said. 

There have been 26 gifts over $100,000, five gifts over $1,000,000 and three gifts over $5,000,000.

Nick Gattozzi, executive director of government and community relations, highlighted state bills the department is tracking due to their potential effect on university proceedings. 

The first of which is House Bill 218, a legislative compromise bill relating to vaccinations that recently passed in the house and is being considered in the senate, he said. 

This bill would expand exemptions to include natural immunity and would require that the university would make a good faith effort to provide equitable instruction to students who refuse to take the vaccine, he said. 

Activity on this bill has been postponed until after the first of the year as additional negotiations take place, Gattozzi said.

Gattozzi also discussed House Bill 327, relating to “divisive concepts.” This bill impacts K-12 and higher education which remains in the state and local government committee. The committee is expected to make additional changes to the bill.

The legislature expects the university to consider those changes being made and weigh in once a substitute bill is released and placed on the committee’s agenda, Gattozzi said. 

Lastly, Gattozzi addressed State Bill 135, for higher education reform. This bill has passed out of the senate and is now being considered in the house of higher education committee. 

Director of athletics Randale Richmond addressed recent achievements within the athletics department. The department honored 23 mid-year graduate student athletes during a ceremony Friday afternoon at the Kent State Hotel, Richmond said. Of those 23, 63% are going onto grad school and 11% are going on to get their second degree, he said. 

Kent State University’s Football team will travel to Idaho for the Dec. 21 Idaho Potato Bowl against Wyoming State University. 

This is the second time the team has gone to a bowl game under Coach Sean Lewis’ in the last four years. Before that, the team had only gone to a bowl game twice in fifty years, Richmond said. 

Due to the travel for the game, members of the team will not be able to attend the Sat. Dec. 18, 2021 commencement ceremony. The members of the team will get a mini commencement in Boise led by Lamar Hylton and Melody Tankersley so they get recognition for their academic success and graduation from the university, Diacon said. 

Alexandra Golden is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]