Kent State to review donation policies after Cope Court controversy


The M.A.C. Center sold out on March 4, 2011 for the Kent v. Akron game. File photo by Matt Hafley.

Megan Wilkinson

The Kent State Office of Institutional Advancement website listed the following as ways to donate gifts to the university:

  • Cash to the Kent State Foundation office or an online credit card donation
  • Securities to offer tax benefits
  • Real estate
  • Gift planning through a trust or annuity
  • Kent State employee payroll deductions
  • Employee Matching Programs through an employer outside of Kent State

Three months ago, Kent State was set to turn the M.A.C. Center into Cope Court after a $1 million gift from Jason and Stacie Cope. However, on Jan. 6, the Daily Kent Stater broke the story of how Cope owed more than $19 million in penalties, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Questions on Cope Court were discussed at the March 14 Board of Trustees meeting. Lester Lefton didn’t want to give further comments on this issue, but Board Chairman Jacqueline Woods recommended that the university review all of its donation policies.

Emily Vincent, director of university media relations, said the review is not happening as a direct result of the Cope gift withdrawal.

“The review is being conducted in the context of the close of the Centennial Campaign, which is July 1,” said Gene Finn, vice president of institutional advancement. “That is common practice for all universities ending a major campaign and has no relation to any other issues.”

Woods said that though the university has been “very successful in fundraising,” the trustees want the External Relations and Development Committee to review donation policies to “make sure they meet the school’s needs today.”

“We kind of have a hiatus here,” Woods said, “because we’re not in a campaign at the moment.”

Finn wrote in an email that the donation policies and procedures will probably be reevaluated.

“I don’t know if any changes will be made and won’t know until the process is complete at some point in June,” Finn wrote.

He said the review is common in the sense that it will look at how the university performed with the Centennial Campaign with its close on July 1.

No trustees or Finn were available for further comment on Cope Court or the university’s donation process as it stands.

During the Centennial Campaign in particular, President Lester Lefton said members of the Board of Trustees, administration, alumni, students and corporations gave anywhere between $5,000 to $6.5 million to the campaign.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited, as it incorrectly attributed a statement to Gene Finn, vice president of institutional advancement. Finn did not say that the review would include a look at the Cope Court controversy but reiterated that the two weren’t connected.

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].