KSU School of Fashion receives $1M donation

Jessica M. Kanalas

The School of Fashion Design and Merchandising received a $1 million grant to support the school as its current director, Elizabeth Rhodes, retires this spring.

The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation formally donated the money to Kent State Nov. 24.

Rhodes said the foundation has been helping Kent State since before she became director 15 years ago.

“I’m really touched to receive such a grant,” Rhodes said, “especially since I’ve had my hand in their pocketbook for so many years.”

Previously, the foundation has provided support for, among other things, scholarships, the New York City Studio and the school’s annual student fashion show.

The foundation has supplied students with the ability to walk out of the school with a stronger package of skills, Rhodes said.

The grant will be dispersed in equal installments of $100,000 over the next 10 years. A quarter of the money will be spent however the next director wishes, whether it’s something such as a special project or supplies for classes. The remaining money will be used to supplement the director’s salary to attract a great replacement, Rhodes said.

“We look for world-class quality leadership that allows us to leverage our grant-investments, and Elizabeth is clearly one of those exceptional leaders of vision,” foundation president Rick Kellar said in a press release. “We are delighted to recognize her legacy impact on the School of Fashion and are enthusiastic partners in the next phase of the school’s growth and excellence.”

When Rhodes came to the school, she said student enrollment was fewer than 300. Since then, it has increased to almost 1,100.

“The caliber of the student has risen, too,” she said.

Rhodes has been working with Margaret Morgan, founder of the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, since she was hired at Kent State in 1994.

Rhodes will retire this July, and she said her career at Kent State has been a good part of her life.

“What you do as a career is another form of family,” she said. “It’s nice to know you’ve been a part of that.”

Contact fashion reporter Jessica M. Kanalas

at [email protected].