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Advancement News

Centennial Campaign Public Phase Launches

Posted Aug. 24, 2009

Kent State is launching the public phase of a $250 million fundraising campaign, the largest in the university's history.

The Centennial Campaign, timed around the university's anniversary celebration in 2010 of its first 100 years, has a goal of raising funds in three areas: $100 million in current-operating funds (near-term programs), $75 million for the institution's endowment and $75 million for capital projects (buildings and other physical spaces).

"Our initial feasibility study told us we could raise $200 million," says Eugene J. Finn, vice president for institutional advancement. "But the response and enthusiasm we've already received from supporters across the country ensures we will be able to soar beyond even our increased goal of $250 million."

During the silent phase of the campaign, supporters have committed more than $162.2 million, or nearly two-thirds of the goal, to a variety of projects. Within that total are 347 new endowed funds, including 283 endowed student scholarship funds -- a major focus of the fundraising effort.

"The hallmark of our guiding excellence agenda is a focus on student success," President Lester A. Lefton says. "We know that financial barriers are the biggest obstacle to achieving a degree, so our message to supporters has been: Help us open doors by providing more private scholarships. And the response is nothing short of remarkable."

New scholarships raised as part of the Centennial Campaign include the university's first talent-based award; numerous Founders Scholarships, the university's highest merit-based grants; scholarships that increase diversity through funding for underrepresented students; and support for study-abroad semesters.

Among the many commitments to the campaign are the university's three largest gifts in its history: the contribution of the Draime Estate Gardens as an educational and interdisciplinary site and an endowment to support them, from alumna Cil Draime, '58, and her late husband, Max, '59; the biggest capital gift from alumna Roe Green, M.A. '80, for the Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance, a collaborative performing-arts facility; and the largest gift-in-kind, $13.5 million in experiential-learning software licenses from Appropriate Technology, a regional software and hardware company.

Kent State's eight campuses also are being transformed by the Centennial Campaign. Capital projects completed or underway include Franklin Hall, the newly renovated home of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication that's been called the best facility of its kind in the country; the state-of-the-art Robert S. Morrison Health and Science Building on the Ashtabula Campus; the Olga A. Mural Nursing Simulation Laboratory; and the John S. Brinzo Entrepreneurial Laboratory in the College of Business Administration.

Major contributions also have supported WKSU-FM, the university's National Public Radio affiliate, as well as the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, where the new Schoonover Stadium is a fitting home to the Golden Flashes baseball team, the 2009 Mid-American Conference tournament champions.

"The Centennial Campaign is comprehensive both in its scope and in the opportunities to participate," says campaign Chairman Ron Pizzuti, a 1962 alumnus and Columbus real estate developer. "Alumni, friends, faculty, staff, foundations and corporations are contributing at the level they're capable and to the programs that inspire them. These gifts are becoming their legacy for the next 100 years of Kent State."

Pizzuti's gift to the campaign will be directed toward projects that increase town-gown collaboration between the city of Kent and the university.

Last month, the university announced supporters had committed more than $37 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, shattering the institution's previous record by nearly $9 million. That earlier record also was set as part of the campaign in 2008.

The public phase of the Centennial Campaign will be celebrated with a Kent Campus event on Oct. 8, 2009.