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The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


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Progression continues on Crawford Hall as anticipated, opening timeline stays on track

Grace Springer
President Todd Diacon addresses a crowd of trustees, administrators and others at the Crawford Hall topping out ceremony June 28, 2023.

Eagerness from campus community members remains high as construction progresses on Crawford Hall, the incoming home for the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

With no amendments made to the $83.5 million budget, the anticipated time frame for the new 149,178 gross square foot building to open is still set for summer 2024, when faculty and staff will be able to move in and establish their office spaces.

Joseph Graham, executive director of facilities, planning and construction, university architect, said the building’s progression has faced some challenges with acquiring materials, but through the partnership with the construction company, Gilbane Building Company, those issues have been addressed and managed.

The “uncertainty of the market” is Graham’s biggest concern, but within the agreement with Gilbane Building Company, prices, scheduling and time are all locked in.

Deborah Spake, dean for the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship, said no classes will occur in Crawford Hall over the summer, but it will be ready for classes and masses of students in the fall 2024 semester. Preliminary discussions are also underway on which classes will be offered and taught in Crawford Hall.

Throughout the fall 2023 semester, department chairs and faculty will sit down and discuss course placement for when classes take place in Crawford Hall next year. Along with that, features in the new building, such as the large collaboration steps, will play a role in these decision-making processes, Spake said.

“The features of the building we are putting in there are reflective of best practice for modern pedagogy,” Spake said. “We’ll have more active learning classrooms. The flat floors are intentional to move tables and chairs around to be more flexible, so we can arrange the classrooms.”

The openness of the building and the size increase are the biggest improvements that will be noticeable, Graham said.

Many discussions recently have turned in the direction of what the donor wall will look like, what the expectations are for the cafe that will be inside Crawford Hall and what the plans will be for furniture, Spake said.

“It will certainly be a modern structure,” Spake said. “We were very careful to look at other fairly new and large business schools around the region.”

Crawford Hall is still under construction, but while passing by, many of the rooms, spaces and steps are outlined by the large beams and framing that are already established.

“The farther along it comes, the more we can begin to see what the building will look like, and how much larger it is than our current building,” Spake said.

The last beam was placed on the building on June 28, at a ceremony. The beam was previously on display at a beam-signing event on April 20. That was when Ambassador Edward J. Crawford, fellow donors and university administrators all had the opportunity to sign the beam that is now on the fourth floor of Crawford Hall.

The college’s administrators and philanthropic outreach continue to raise funds for the college and building, and the Grant family gave a $1 million gift last fall. This was the single largest gift given for Crawford Hall last year, Spake said.

Those funds will be used toward the enhancement of technology and necessary equipment to support the new building over time, Spake said.

When looking at the current business administration building, which is on the verge of being the old one, its future status is still unclear.

The decision for that will come from President Diacon and the Board of Trustees, but at the moment, no classes will take place in the building when the fall 2024 semester begins. However, classes will still occur in the building over the summer 2023 period to prepare for classes in Crawford Hall for the fall 2024 semester, Spake said.

“We don’t want to move in [to Crawford Hall] and start teaching at the same time,” Spake said.

With buzz in the air over Crawford Hall and the enhancements that the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship will bring to campus, administrators and recruiters have already received a positive response in enrollment numbers trends, Spake said.

“The trend that we are seeing compared to last year shows growth in freshmen and our graduate programs,” Spake said. “We are seeing both numbers trending much higher than we saw last year.”

It is anticipated as well that the college may receive a record-breaking freshmen class for the fall 2023 semester. Final enrollment numbers will not be made available until the 15th day of classes, but from the weekly reports Spake receives, everything is trending upward.

Kent State University Board of Trustees member Ann Womer Benjamin signs her name on the final beam of Crawford Hall. (Grace Springer)

“If you’re visiting schools and see the prospect of this nice, new building, that has to be exciting,” Spake said. “It’ll be a nice addition to the great work we already do.”

The excitement built up surrounding Crawford Hall is a phenomenon that is ready to be implemented into the environment and community once the building opens. The processes and efforts already completed have been something Graham has enjoyed, but looks forward to how the rest of the university’s community will react.

“In the end we are building a building that really doesn’t come alive until the spirit of the students are inhabited and occupied by the space,” Graham said.

Once Crawford Hall is in use for classes and events, Graham looks forward to seeing how the occupied spaces’ features will be used, along with absorbing the reactions and critiques of the building, he said.

The advancement of the college and implementing the best practices for faculty and students is at the forefront of Spake’s desires.

She looks to continue the progression of the college when herself and colleagues will review and overlook the courses and curriculum offered in coming months, she said.

Already, the college is growing. It went from five academic departments to six, which were properly planned out for Crawford Hall, Spake said.

The Department of Management and Department of Information Systems and Business Analytics are new additions to the college that once acted as one unit, Spake said.

To fill spots as the college grows, Spake is currently interviewing and reviewing new faculty members. So far, the college has been able to hire multiple faculty members over the summer.

“It’s a great time to be at Kent State and a great time to be a part of the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship,” Spake said. “People are excited about the college at the moment and I think will continue to be excited as we continue to grow our programs.”

Anthony Zacharyasz is a general assignment editor. Contact him at [email protected].


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About the Contributor
Anthony Zacharyasz, Managing Editor
Anthony is a senior journalism major with a business minor in his fifth semester at KentWired, serving as the managing editor for the spring semester. Previously, he was a reporter and general assignment editor where plenty of communication, leadership and writing skills were put to the test. Additionally, he is a part of TV2, as an anchor and segment anchor paving the way for multimedia opportunities. He enjoys writing about politics at all levels, business environments and financial matters. Contact him at [email protected].

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