Donor gives $20,000 to begin endowment for LGBT students

Christina Stavale

The first ever endowment designed to benefit Kent State’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students officially began yesterday.

Harry Jackson, owner of the Odd Corner in Akron, presented the University with a check for $20,000 – just the beginning of what will be continued philanthropy for the LGBT community.

Before today, Jackson had already donated $5,000 to Kent State, totaling the initial donation to $25,000. Additionally, he has designated a third of his will – about $2 million – to be given to fund this endowment after he passes away.

Jackson said he began this philanthropy out of personal responsibility.

“I believe in giving back to the gay community,” he said. “Education and even programs are very important. I’m not aware of anything in the area like that.”

He said he hopes through scholarships and effective programming, more LGBT students will be attracted to Kent State. He said he also hopes the programs of this endowment will allow the university to host will motivate students to become more involved in LGBT rights both politically and locally.

Jackson said much of the money has come from his profits at the Odd Corner.

Joe Macedo, associate vice president of the center for gift and estate planning, said the university requires endowments to garner earnings for 18 months before any money is spent, so students won’t likely see immediate effects.

But PRIDE!Kent President Leora Rzepka has a few things in mind she’d like to see once the money can be spent – namely, quality educational programs and scholarships for LGBT students and activists.

“Our greatest vision would be to have both the education and scholarship aspect,” she said. “While scholarships are important to get here, education and promotion are important once you get here.”

She said she’d like to bring a well-known speaker or entertainer to campus who would draw large crowds from the university population as a whole.

Rzepka will join PRIDE!Kent’s adviser (for whom they are currently searching) and a representative from the Center for Student Involvement on a committee that will decide how the money is spent.

Students and groups will then be able to apply to this committee for allocations to spend on LGBT-related programs. Scholarships may also be established.

Macedo said Jackson approached Kent State about the donation about six months ago, and he now ranks among the most generous donors at Kent State, because of his lifelong commitment to the university and the impact he wants to make.

“He wants to have an impact today as well as in the future,” he said.

Macedo said Jackson’s donation fits in well with the university’s vision.

“Kent State strives to build a diverse community of learners,” he said, “committed to anything that builds awareness, diversity and understanding. That’s what Harry’s after.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Christina Stavale at [email protected].