Kent State announces ‘Forever Brighter’ fundraising campaign; largest fundraiser in university history

Alexandra Golden Reporter Owen Macmillan Assistant Managing Editor

Correction: Sandy Armstrong, co-chair of the campaign committee, was mistakenly referred to as “Cindy Armstrong.” The article has also been edited to reflect the current fundraising number reported by the university on Monday.

Kent State announced the Forever Brighter fundraising campaign Saturday to support students and initiatives at Kent State.  

The announcement came during halftime of Kent State’s homecoming football game against Bowling Green State University. The video played on the scoreboard after President Todd Diacon accompanied by Sandy and Larry Armstrong, co-chairs for the university’s campaign committee, took the field. 

“Together we make the world forever brighter,” the video stated. 

With this campaign, visitors received yellow or blue sunglasses to wear after the announcement at halftime. The side of the glasses read  “Forever Brighter,” the name of the fundraiser.

This was the public announcement of a comprehensive fundraising campaign which will be the largest in university history, as it hopes to raise $350 million.

Prior to the announcement, the fundraising was in a “quiet phase” according to Eric Mansfield, assistant vice president of university communications and marketing. This means the university has been going to donors directly rather than making a public request for donations.

In a Monday press release on the campaign, the university said it had raised $272 million, or 78% of its total goal, during that quiet phase.

KentWired first learned about the ongoing campaign during a Sept. 8 Board of Trustees meeting. In that meeting Valoree Vargo, vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement, shared the state of the fundraising campaign.

“Our largest focus in this campaign is the priority of students’ success,” Vargo said during the meeting. “Which includes programs that ensure access, award achievement, enhance experiences and foster completion.”

For the 2021 fiscal year the university raised $21.5 million, surpassing the goal of $20 million for the year by six percent. Vargo said that the university started the campaign with a goal of $350 million and that the university is 74% of the way toward that goal.

The fundraising goal for the “student success” aspect of the campaign was $100 million and the university has currently raised $83.1 million for that purpose.

“We are really, really hopeful that we can blow past that hundred million dollars during the public phase of the campaign,” Vargo said.

Diacon mentioned the fundraising project on Aug. 31 in an email announcing the appointment of Lamar Hylton as executive vice president of student affairs and the promotion of Vargo to vice president from the interim position she held for the last year.

In the statement, Diacon referenced the campaign as the “largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in Kent State history.”

The previous largest fundraising campaign in Kent State’s history was the Centennial Campaign, which ran from 2009 to 2011 and raised over $265 million, which this new campaign has already surpassed.

Alexandra Golden is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

Owen MacMillan is assistant managing editor. Contact him at [email protected]