CPAE building grows support for university


Assistant Vice President Mindy Aleman of the Center for Gift and Estate Planning speaks about the New Gift Annuity Minimums at the first meeting held in the Institutional Advancement Center.

Caleigh Marten

The Center for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement (CPAE) houses 11 departments that work as a whole to grow private support for Kent State.

State support for a university is a necessity and extremely important.  However, one challenge that a university faces is private support, which is where the CPAE building comes into play.

According to Albert Melfo, director of the Annual Giving department, the existence of a building with this purpose at the university underscores the importance of the relationships between alumni and their alma maters.

The building was made possible through a private-public partnership between Kent State, GMS Development and the Portage County Port Authority, Melfo said.

“Bringing all key areas of advancement together in one central, shared space creates synergies that just aren’t possible when staff are scattered across campus,” Melfo said. “The new center also provides us with the ability to host some events here for our various audiences, including alumni, friends and donors. And it will serve as a central welcome center for alumni when they return to visit our amazing campus.”

“This is the first time since the Institutional Advancement division was first formed that we’ve been able to bring together all of the staff from the various areas,” he said.

Previously, the departments were spread all over campus, but with this new building located on the corner of South Lincoln Street, they are able to work cohesively and efficiently.

“Until the move, our (vice president) was located in the Executive Offices on the second floor of the (university) library – he’s here now, with his support staff,” he said. “The offices of Advancement Services, Annual Giving, Prospect Research and the Kent State Foundation used to be housed on Fraternity Circle. Planned Giving and Corporate & Foundation Relations lived in ASB, and the Alumni Association resided in the white house in the center of campus, which was originally the home of former (Kent State) presidents.” 

According to Brian Thornton, director of Digital Strategy and Communication, aside from a collaborative work space, having a dedicated place to bring the alumni back to … (is great because) when they come (to Kent State) they will feel valuable.

“We are such a collaborative team, which would lead to us having meetings all over the place and (having to do) simple stuff … all over campus,” Thornton said. “And now that we are all here it kind of developed the synergies to allow us to collaborate more intensively.”

The building itself has three floors. The first floor holds event space, storage and offices for the departments, as well as the student-staffed phone center.

“Our Alumni Association will host things like homecoming events, luncheons, dinners, and Alumni Ambassador training with the use of these facilities,” Thornton said. “The offices on this floor mainly consist of the teams that are a part of fundraising support.”

According to Misty Williamson, a senior radiologic technology major at the Salem campus and advancement operations manager, the phone center was previously located at 1061 Fraternity Circle and was bought out by a Kent State fraternity in December.

Caleigh Marten is a reporter for the Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].