2009 donations set record

Allison Smith

The 2009 fiscal year was a record-breaking year for Kent State and fundraising. Donations to Kent State totaled more than $37 million, $9 million more than the previous fiscal year’s fundraising.

President Lester Lefton said a lot of the donations are dedicated toward very specific things.

“For example, in the journalism building, we have the Hirsch classroom. When Mr. Hirsch gave the money, it was to go to build a classroom,” Lefton said. “In the same way, many of the donors have targeted their money, or their gifts, in various ways.”

Lefton said Kent State has not had a great culture of philanthropy because it is a public university and people assume it is supported by public funds.

“So developing a culture of philanthropy, of giving back, is a long-term process,” Lefton said.

He said the fundraising process is very different from private universities where giving back is considered to be understood by everyone who is a student and eventually an alumni.

“Members of Boards of Trustees are expected to give millions of dollars,” Lefton said. “In fact, they are largely chosen because of their giving capacity – and their good judgment.”

Lefton said in Ohio’s public universities a trustee is a political appointment.

“While many of our board members have been very generous, that’s not the principal reason,” Lefton said.

E-Inside, a university publication, reported donors have shown great empathy to rising student need and have committed more than $5.4 million to new scholarships.

“With the market downturn and constant string of poor economic news during the past year, many universities have reported significant drops in contributions,” Gene Finn, vice president for institutional advancement, told e-Inside. “But our supporters have repeatedly demonstrated through their giving that they believe our vision and direction are on the right track, pushing us to a new level that will provide crucial resources to our students.”

Contact principal reporter Allison Smith at [email protected].