Center for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement holds grand opening

Kent State President Beverly Warren, as well as members of the Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board, cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the Center for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement on Friday, June 3, 2016.

Jenna Kuczkowski

Kent State held the grand opening of the new Center for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement on Friday. The building houses various areas of the Division of Institutional Advancement, including the Alumni Association and the Kent State Foundation, which were previously housed in separate buildings.

“This was the first opportunity we had as a university to bring all the multiple areas of the Division of Institutional Advancement together for the first time,” said Beverly Warren, Kent State president, as she addressed the crowd during the ceremony. “Imagine being part of a division in which you rarely see your colleagues except on a large business day. Here, there’s the opportunity to collaborate and convene, to have lunch together, to really do the planning that is so vital to having a strong philanthropy and alumni engagement.”

During the dedication ceremony, Gary Brahler, chair of the university’s Foundation Board, talked about the initial founding of the new center.

“When the foundation was approached to become part of this project, we quickly realized that our involvement could make this facility a reality and that we could build it in a way that would speak about Kent State’s commitment to its alumni and its belief in the importance of philanthropy,” Brahler said.

Laura De-Armond-Szucs, assistant director of Alumni Relations Outreach, believes the new location couldn’t be better for the university.

“I think it also makes it a lot simpler when alumni are coming to visit,” De’Armond-Szucs said. “Whether they’re coming to do something (philanthropic) or just visit the Alumni Association, they can do both in one place.”

Warren also spoke on how the original vision for the building was not the structure guests at the ceremony saw. Initially, she said, the design was simplistic and functional: “very much like an office building,” Warren said.

“We had to ask ourselves what we really wanted this building to be …  a place of vibrancy, action and planning, focusing on the importance of philanthropy to this university,” Warren said. “So—next thing we knew—parts of the building started pushing out … things started opening up and this beautiful space was created, with all of those great things in mind.”

Brian Marino, president of the Alumni Association’s National Board of Directors, also spoke during the ceremony.

Marino highlighted on the many features in the building such as event space, multiple meeting rooms and integrated technology that “ will enhance the robust offerings that the alumni offers to its constituents,” he said.

Ashley Whaley, associate director of communications and digital engagement for Alumni Relatoins, as well as an attendee of the grand opening, expressed her enthusiasm for the new building.

“I love the new office spaces and just the ability to collaborate with everyone,” Whaley said. “Now, we also don’t have to run across campus just to have a meeting, since we’re all in the place now. We can go downstairs to use the meeting space for individual meetings or the conference room upstairs for bigger meetings where there’s a ton of space that we didn’t have before.”

Larry Pollock, chair of Kent State’s Board of Trustees, also spoke during the ceremony. He pointed out the important functions philanthropy serves the university.

“One of the important things that Kent State—and really all the public universities now have to focus on—is that with the support of state funding going down …  the importance of philanthropy becomes more and more critical in funding the future of this campus and many others,” Pollock said. “(This ensures) that students in the future have the same opportunities as students today.”

To conclude the event, an honorary ribbon cutting by Warren and members of the Board of Trustees and Foundation Board took place. Post-cutting, tours were offered of all three stories of the building.

Contact Jenna Kuczkowski at [email protected].