Goal is to raise $250 million

Allison Smith

KSU fundraising campaign goes public

Fundraising for Kent State’s Centennial Campaign has reached $165 million, said Eugene Finn, vice president of institutional advancement.

Finn said the phase of quietly asking individuals for money is over, and the official kickoff of the public portion will begin Oct. 8. He said the campaign’s goal is to raise $250 million, and this year’s goal is to raise $33 million.

“There’s going to be a big dinner here on campus,” Finn said. “There will be a whole program. The president will speak; he’ll talk about the priorities for the campaign and the future of the institution.

“Our friends over in theater and dance are putting together a performance involving students. It should be a memorable evening.”

Finn said the silent phase of the campaign has been happening over the last few years, and the public portion is just beginning.

“Now that the public portion of the campaign is being launched, my staff continues to raise funds for the campaign,” Finn said. “In fact, we ramp up even more now with the public portion of it.”

He said development officers go out and talk to alumni, past donors and foundations to try to raise money for the campaign.

“Each of the schools has a development officer, a person that works very closely with the deans, and they spend most of their time on the road visiting with alumni,” Finn said. “They spend their time going out and talking about the priorities of the institution and about the campaign.”

Christine Isenberg, the director of advancement for the College of Communication and Information, said her development officers try to build relationships with donors. They want them to give their money to Kent State, not to someone else.

“You bring them news about the university, about what you’re doing, new programs – just some of the exciting things that are going on in their school,” Isenberg said.

She said officers want to find out what alumni are doing in their lives right now and how Kent State helped them get there.

“The hope is that you want to bring them closer to the university so when they do decide to give, that they want to give back to their alma mater,” Isenberg said.

Isenberg said they’re pushing to use donated money toward scholarships because of the state of the economy. She said a lot of kids now are having a difficult time finding the funds to go to college.

“Most of it is really geared toward support for students – whether that’s through scholarships or improving classroom space or hiring new faculty members,” Finn said. “But really the campaign is student-centric in creating opportunities for the future.”

Finn said the Row Green Center addition to the Music and Speech Center is the most visible example of what has been done with the funds raised. Other physical examples are the renovation of Franklin Hall, the new Health and Science Building on the Ashtabula campus and the Draime Estate Gardens that horticulture students use.

“If you walk through Franklin Hall, you’ll notice that an awful lot of the classrooms have plaques on the donors,” Finn said. “The First Energy classroom, which is the big auditorium, those are all results of gifts to the campaign. So there are definitely tangible examples throughout the campus.”

Finn said even though there are many physical aspects that the money is going towards, most of the money will be put into scholarships. He said he realizes how important it is for students to have money for college.

“It’s critical,” he said. “Particularly with the current economic downturn, you know, oftentimes it’s these gifts that help to make up the difference and enable some kids to stay here at Kent State.”

Contact administration reporter Allison Smith at [email protected].