University Launches Fundraising Campaign
Kent State University publicly launched a $350 million comprehensive fundraising campaign Saturday, Oct. 2. During a special halftime announcement at the Homecoming football game, campaign co-chairs Sandra C. and Lawrence R. Armstrong joined Kent State President Todd Diacon to publicly unveil Forever Brighter to thousands of alumni, donors and friends. This is the most ambitious comprehensive campaign in the university’s 111-year history.
“We are turning an eye to the future, and it is my great pleasure to announce the public phase of Kent State University’s Forever Brighter comprehensive fundraising campaign,” Diacon said. “We are consistently recognized nationally for our success in graduating more students. Our graduation rate is already the highest in northern Ohio and the fourth highest in the state among public universities, but we won’t rest until all students we enroll graduate with the skills to succeed in their first jobs, graduate programs and careers they haven’t even dreamed of yet. Philanthropy is key to illuminating a brighter future for our students and their communities.”
Forever Brighter focuses on three key areas: Prioritizing Student Success, Expanding University Initiatives and Building the Future. Within each of these areas are specific projects, programs and initiatives to enhance student experiences and elevate Kent State’s reputation as a leader in student support, athletics, research and innovation – both nationally and internationally.
“It is a special time at Kent State University,” Sandra Armstrong said. “For too long, our alma mater had been a hidden gem amongst higher education institutions. Now, our reputation is strong, our rankings are soaring and our students are learning how to harness their passions to find their purpose in life.”
“We are launching into a new era at Kent State, and we are so proud to co-chair this transformational campaign,” Lawrence Armstrong added. “We have been given the opportunity to fund scholarships and new programs for deserving students – and there is no more rewarding feeling for us than changing the course of our students’ lives in a positive and encouraging way. We call on all alumni and friends to join us in this effort to build a brighter future for Kent State.”
Of the campaign’s total goal, $100 million is being raised to fund scholarships and success programs for students, providing support from the moment they receive their letter of acceptance until the day they earn their degree. To date, more than $85 million has been raised for Prioritizing Student Success.
“I did not come from a wealthy family,” said Jacob Grant, a 2021 Kent State graduate who studied aerospace engineering and physics. “I don’t know if I would have been able to access higher education at all without the scholarship money I’ve received. Now, as a recent graduate, I get to be part of leading the charge into the unknown, and the reason I get to do that is because I came to Kent State.”
Forever Brighter has raised 78%, or $272 million, of the total campaign goal during the quiet phase of the comprehensive campaign. Some early key gifts to date include:
College of Podiatric Medicine Receives Historic $10 Million Gift
On Sept. 15, the Kent State Board of Trustees voted to accept naming recognition for the College of Podiatric Medicine’s Foot and Ankle Clinic in acknowledgement of a $10 million gift from The Podiatry Foundation located in Independence, Ohio. This gift, which is the largest single gift in the history of the university, will also fund scholarships, research and continuing medical education programs within the college.
Anonymous $1.8 Million Estate Gift Supports Education Abroad
An anonymous couple has pledged an estate gift of $1.8 million that will be used within the Office of Global Education and the School of Art. The funds will provide scholarships for students participating in the education-abroad program in Geneva, Switzerland, and students in the School of Art. The couple met during a spring break education-abroad trip to Portugal and credits that chance meeting as the catalyst behind their 30-year marriage.
$1.5 Million Gift from The Timken Foundation of Canton for College of Aeronautics and Engineering Building Expansion
The College of Aeronautics and Engineering is expanding to accommodate the ever-increasing number of students enrolling in its programs. On Oct. 1, the college broke ground on a $19.6 million project that will add 80% more space to the college. The building’s new two-story atrium will be named in recognition of this gift from The Timken Foundation of Canton.
Donors Give $2 Million to Support Scholarships and Endowed Faculty
Earl Miller, Ph.D., and his wife, Marlene M. Wicherski, have pledged $2 million to support three scholarships and an endowed professorship in Kent State’s College of Arts and Sciences concentrated on neuroscience. Miller, who is a 1985 graduate of Kent State, is a renowned cognitive neuroscientist and the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Kent State is hosting an official grand opening of the Brain Health Research Institute Labs and Collaboratory on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.
Some of the specific initiatives in the Forever Brighter campaign include the Brain Health Research Institute, Design Innovation Initiative, global education, Rising Scholars Program, College of Business Administration building, College of Aeronautics and Engineering building, intercollegiate athletics and other university-level scholarships and programs.
“This is a campaign for everyone,” said Valoree Vargo, Kent State’s vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement. “Whether you can give $100 to be used for a Last Dollar Scholarship to enable a student to pay a final bill and make it to graduation or you can give millions of dollars to endow a professorship, every dollar is focused on the success of our hardworking and talented students. Our donors are truly transforming the lives of students who need their support now more than ever. Our campaign tagline is ‘At Kent State, what sets us apart is how we come together,’ and it’s that spirit that will propel us forward in this effort to leave the university and the lives of its students Forever Brighter.”