A large crowd of supporters watched as Kent State University broke ground Tuesday for the $71 million Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship and Crawford Hall.
The crowd gathered in a large tent near the former site of Terrace Hall, which was demolished last month to make way for the structure. The new building will be built on the footprint of Terrace Hall and sit just east of White Hall on the north edge of campus.
The project is part of the Gateway Master Plan, a campus-wide facility improvement plan that could take up to 10 years from its 2018 inception and $1.2 billion to complete
The building will be named after Edward Crawford, a businessman and US ambassador to Ireland from 2019-21, cited as the “lead donor” for the project..Valoree Vargo, vice president of KSU’s division of philanthropy and alumni engagement, said nearly 20 other donors also would be recognized, and parts of the building would be named for them as well.
Crawford talked about the day that Kent State President Todd Diacon and Deborah Spake, dean of the KSU College of Business, visited him at his office at ParkOhio in Cleveland. As they talked about the plan for the center, Crawford said he began to share their excitement, and wished he had been able to attend a business school like the one they had described.
“A lot of great ideas have come out of that office over the years,” Crawford said. “But most of them have been my ideas.”
Crawford proudly displayed a backpack from Kent State, which had the university’s slogan “You Belong Here.”
“Crawfords belong here,” he said.
While the university did not disclose how much Crawford donated, the university said in October that it was the largest gift in university history, meaning it would have to be larger than the $10 million gift recently bequeathed to the College of Podiatric Medicine.
Spake hailed Crawford’s entrepreneurial spirit, which she said led him to acquire a substantial stake of ParkOhio, a supply chain management company, in 1992. Under Crawford’s vision, she said, the firm became a publicly traded company with 125 facilities globally, with $1.6 billion in revenues and 7,000 employees around the world.
“He saw himself in our students,” she said.
Diacon called Crawford’s gift a “game changer” that “will change the face of our campus.” The building, he said, will be a place for students and faculty to gather and exchange ideas and foster entrepreneurship.
“This will be a significant building,” he said.
Last year, Jay Graham, executive director of facilities, planning and design and university architect, said Terrace Drive will wind behind Crawford Hall, the new business building, and will intersect Midway Drive. Crawford Hall should be ready to house the business school in the fall of 2024.
In addition to rerouting Terrace Drive, the university plans to eliminate the parking lot in front of White Hall, which passersby on East Main Street see every day. The parking lot currently marks the end of the sparsely wooded lawns running downhill from the university’s oldest buildings. With the elimination of the parking lot, that lawn will be extended farther east.
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