John Brinzo, '64, Marketing
GIVING BACK FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS
John Brinzo’s philanthropic commitment to Kent State began in 1969 with a $10 gift, just after he took a new position in a company that would be his home for the next 37 years, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. “I had just earned my MBA and changed fields and was starting to achieve success in my career and thought it was time to give back,” said John.
When John arrived at Kent State in 1960, he chose accounting as his major. However, he soon discovered an interest and talent in the areas of marketing and advertising, so he changed majors. “I was intrigued by socioeconomics and the effects that marketing and advertising have on society,” John said. Faculty members helped him identify his passion and purpose. “One of my advertising professors caused me to visualize my career path, to think critically about my future and to form a real vision,” he said. He credits Kent State with providing the tools he needed to begin his long and successful career in business. “Without Kent State behind me, I would not have achieved my success,” John said.
John’s donations to Kent State have grown considerably since his first gift more than 50 years ago, with a specific focus on the College of Business Administration. His gifts of more than $1.5 million have funded the creation and subsequent expansion of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation’s John S. Brinzo Entrepreneurship Laboratory. “Supporting entrepreneurial thinking for students resonates deeply with me,” said John.
He has also volunteered his time and business expertise as the first chairman of the college’s National Advisory Board. “I have been very impressed with Dean Spake and her vision for the college to build on a foundation of academic excellence,” he said. “I support her vision for a new building that will attract the highest quality faculty and students.”
His latest commitment to the college is a $500,000 gift to the new building for the creation of the new Brinzo Entrepreneurship Laboratory. “This new building will provide a legacy for the future and create a learning environment with space to learn, grow and share educational experiences,” said John. “This is a great way to support my alma mater and future generations of business students.”
John Brinzo began his successful career in 1964 in the management training program at National City Bank. He joined Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., the leading supplier of iron ore products in North America, in 1969 as a financial analyst. Through the years, Brinzo worked his way up through Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., being named president and chief executive officer in 1997 and chairman of the board in 2000, a position he held until he retired in 2006. He has since served on seven corporate boards, including the Brinks Company and Delta Airlines. He and his wife, Marlene, have two children and five grandchildren.