Kent State announces $28m gift, largest in history

The largest single gift in Kent State University history, by Ambassador Edward F. Crawford, will complete the capital campaign to enable the construction of a new building for the college on the university’s Kent Campus. The $28m gift, secured by The Superlative Group, will allow for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art building.

In recognition of the generosity of Ambassador Crawford and his family, the new building will be named Crawford Hall and the college will be named the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship. The Crawford family gift is an important cornerstone of the recently announced Forever Brighter $350 million comprehensive campaign.

“Ambassador Crawford has spent his life as a successful entrepreneur and business owner, growing his company from the ground up,” said Kent State President Todd Diacon. “To have earned his confidence in our College of Business Administration, which will bear his name both for the college and on its new building, makes us very proud. Our students will not only be educated in an iconic facility, with a forward-thinking design, but they will also be able to look to him as a mentor for their own entrepreneurial and business endeavors. We are very thankful for his support.”

This transformative gift is the spark that enables the university to move forward with its Gateway to a Distinctive Kent State master plan. The 10-year master plan proposes the creation of a new signature gateway entrance to the Kent Campus that features Crawford Hall, the new home for the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

The son of Irish immigrants, Ambassador Crawford began his career as an entrepreneur in 1962, starting his first manufacturing business while attending college classes at night. Beginning in 1992, he built Park-Ohio Holdings Corp. through a series of more than 100 transactions, growing from a small local manufacturer into a successful international corporation. Under his leadership as Chairman and CEO, Park-Ohio became a publicly traded $1.6 billion industrial supply chain logistics and diversified manufacturing business, employing more than 7,000 people in 125 locations worldwide. After serving the country as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland from 2019-2021, he returned to America in his current roles as Chairman of Crawford United Corporation, CEO of The Crawford Group and Director of Park-Ohio.

The new Crawford Hall will support innovative instruction, research and student support services for thousands of business majors, minors and others taking business courses across the Kent State system. The pandemic provided an opportunity to implement new instructional methods and technologies in higher education. Based on this new knowledge, the building design will include increased technology to support these modern instructional methods as well as flexible space for a variety of instructional layouts.

“Crawford Hall will be instrumental in how we prepare students for modern business careers,” said Deborah Spake, Ph.D., dean of the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Kent State. “This new building – one of the largest buildings on any Kent State campus to house an academic program – and its enhanced technology will continue to bolster our reputation for both international business and entrepreneurship education. We anticipate a continued increase not only in domestic enrollment but also for international students seeking a top-tier education. With this gift, the future is indeed bright for the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship.”

The Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship will be continuing the ambassador’s ASPIRE Entrepreneurial Workshop Series, which he launched while posted in Ireland. As part of this program, Kent State will be taking entries for the first ASPIRE award to be presented in September 2022.

Kent State’s Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship has been educating students for 85 years and has grown to be the largest business school in Northeast Ohio. With more than 3,600 business students across the Kent State system, the college is the largest provider of entry-level business graduates in the region. These students represent 40 countries, demonstrating the college’s global footprint. Not only has the college grown, but its rankings are on the rise. In 2021, the college was ranked No. 25 by U.S. News & World Report for its Online MBA specialty concentration in Business Analytics and No. 26 by The Princeton Review for the Online MBA. The college is also recognized by U.S. News & World Report among the 2021 Best Undergraduate Business Programs in the nation.

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