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$5 Million Gift Is Largest Made to the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State University

Posted June 24, 2013 | Deb McGuinness
enter photo description
(From left to right) Kent State University Vice President for
Institutional Advancement Gene Finn, Kent State Director
of Advancement for Constituent Programs Marti Ring,
Kent State President Lester A. Lefton, donor John Elliot
and Douglas Steidl, dean of Kent State’s College of
Architecture and Environmental Design, gather for the
announcement of a gift to the university.

Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton announced a $5 million gift from John and Fonda Elliot through the family’s foundation, which will create the “Elliot Studios for Design” at the new building planned for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State. The gift also will fund endowments for The Elliot Program for Healthcare Design, The Elliot Scholars and The Elliot Professorship in Healthcare Design.

“Fonda and I are honored to be able to give back to the university that gave us the opportunity and the tools to help build our pathway to today,” says John Elliot. “If it were not for Kent State and the school of architecture, I would not have had the foundation to develop my architectural practice and a healthcare company that employs more than 1,000 dedicated healthcare professionals. We would encourage other Kent State graduates to participate and foster the vision that Kent State has for the future.”

The Elliot Scholars gift will fund 10 scholarships for full-time architecture students in any graduate degree program of Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design. Awards will be designated for both Kent State domestic scholarships and Kent State global study opportunities.

The Elliot Professorship in Healthcare Design will be used to provide competitive compensation and research support for especially promising faculty members holding the rank of assistant professor, associate professor or professor in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State.

The Elliot Program for Healthcare Design will support a new program in Healthcare Design. Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design currently has a Certificate in Healthcare Facilities and will soon be offering a master’s in healthcare design.

As the largest single gift ever made to the college, it will have a very real impact.

“We are thrilled with the Elliot family’s decision to provide this landmark gift,” says Douglas Steidl, dean of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State. “It will not only serve to enhance our new facility, but also provide ongoing support to the students through scholarships, the addition of faculty expertise and the establishment of a new program in healthcare design.”

Gene Finn, Kent State’s vice president for institutional advancement, is grateful for the generous support the Elliot family has shown to the university.

“The Elliots are leaders in the growing philanthropic tradition at Kent State,” Finn says. “They recognize the wonderful advances being made here, and their gift to the College of Architecture and Environmental Design is their tangible support of this agenda.”

John Elliot, who earned his bachelor of architecture degree in 1970 from Kent State, started John Elliot Associates, Architects and Planners in 1972 and began focusing on building nursing homes in 1976. Today, John and his wife, Fonda, own and operate AMFM, LLC, an 11-facility nursing home business in West Virginia. Fonda, a retired nurse, received a degree in health services administration from the West Virginia Institute of Technology, as did John. John is a licensed architect in Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.

John serves on the board of directors for the Kent State University Foundation, the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia, the Buckskin Council of the Boy Scouts of America, City National Bank of West Virginia, and chair of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Fonda currently serves on the board of directors for Charleston Area Medical Center, West Virginia’s largest hospital system, the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia and the University of Charleston. She is a former board member for the YWCA of Charleston and was recognized as a YWCA Woman of Achievement for 2013.

John and Fonda Elliot reside in Charleston, W.Va. They have two adult sons, Andrew and Gregory. John, Fonda and their sons are officers of The Elliot Foundation, a family foundation that supports the Elliot Family Foundation Architectural Scholarship at Kent State.

Background on the new building
The new home for the architecture program at Kent State will encompass 122,000 square feet and cost $40 million. The building is being designed by New York-based design firm WEISS/MANFREDI, which teamed with Cleveland-based Richard L. Bowen & Associates. It is part of the university’s campus transformation, called Foundations of Excellence: Building the Future, which involves the construction of new buildings, facility upgrades and establishment of dynamic, new spaces. The goal of this initiative is to create the most outstanding academic experience for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the greater community enriched by the university. It will be located along the south side of the new Kent State University Esplanade extension near downtown Kent. Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2014 with the goal of occupancy in December 2015.

For more information about Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, visit www.kent.edu/caed.