Endowment to create public relations scholarship

Matthew White

Future public relations students will have more options to consider when searching for scholarships.

The university announced it would receive an endowment from Tom and Juanita Duke, who will fund the “Tom and Juanita Duke endowed Scholarship” in public relations upon the execution of the Dukes’ estate.

When the endowment fund matures, it will be administered by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication working with the office of Student Financial Aid.

The scholarship will be used to encourage students who have demonstrated the capacity to achieve education and professional goals and who have the initiative to seek opportunities to further their progress in public relations.

Proposed qualifications for the scholarship include a minimum 3.25 GPA and participation in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, with preference given to students majoring in public relations.

University spokeswoman Megan Harding said the award will likely be $5,000 and renewable with approval of the coordinator of the public relations program. The award will be directed to tuition, fees, room and board and other expenses.

Tom Duke, 1955 graduate of Kent State, said he would encourage others to make this sort of gift.

“Excellence in education is key to this country’s future,” he said. “Having good students fulfill their goals, in education and in life, is important.”

Duke, who was editor of the Daily Kent Stater while in college, said the time he spent at Kent State did a lot for him.

“We (Tom and Juanita) wanted to help students in the future,” he said. “I felt a real attachment to KSU, and my wife did too. We wanted to help out public relations students with their future.”

Mindy Aleman, associate director of the center for gift and estate planning at the KSU Foundation, worked with the Dukes to create the endowment. Aleman said she knew who Duke was from his reputation in corporate public relations.

“I met Tom at the Golden Order Reunion and encouraged him to create a legacy,” Aleman said. “With everything that he was able to accomplish in the public relations field, it seemed fitting for his name to be permanently associated with the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.”

Amanda Vasil, vice president of professional relations for Kent State’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, was excited to hear about the endowment.

“Extra help is awesome and it’s definitely needed,” she said.

Vasil said the money will be helpful for future public relations students.

“A lot of students struggle with taking classes while holding jobs, and many students have internships during the school year,” she said. “Scholarships enable students to explore educational opportunities and attend conferences.”

Aleman said the KSU Foundation is working to increase aid available to students.

“There’s a growing number of endowed scholarships of all kinds,” Aleman said. “From the Founders’ scholarships, to talent-based scholarships, to merit-based scholarships, the overall number is increasing.”

Aleman said this is important for students because when the endowments mature, they will provide another source of revenue for students.

“The KSU Foundation generates and disperses money to the office of Student Financial Aid,” Aleman said. “We all work in concert.”

Aleman said people can create an endowment at any time. Although, the fund won’t mature until after they pass away and their estates are executed.

Contact student affairs reporter Matt White at [email protected].