Large crowds of supporters watched Kent State University open the $71 million Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship and Crawford Hall on Tuesday.
Crowds 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 will be located just east of White Hall at the north end 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 inception in 2018 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 project’s “major donor”. other donors would also be recognized and parts of the building would also be named after them.
Crawford spoke about the day Kent State President Todd Diacon and KSU College of Business Dean Deborah Spake visited him at his office in ParkOhio in Cleveland. As they talked about the proposed center, Crawford said he was beginning to share their excitement and wished he could have attended a business school like the one they 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 Kent State backpack, which bore the university’s slogan “You Belong Here”.
“The Crawfords belong here,” he said.
Although the university did not disclose the amount of Crawford’s donation, the university said in October that it was the largest donation in the history of the university, which means that it is expected to exceed the $10 million donation recently bequeathed to the College of Podiatric Medicine.
Spake praised Crawford’s entrepreneurial spirit, which she says led her to acquire a substantial stake in ParkOhio, a supply chain management company, in 1992. According to Crawford’s vision, a she said, the company became a publicly traded company with 125 facilities worldwide, with $1.6 billion. of turnover and 7,000 employees worldwide.
“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 where students and faculty can gather and exchange ideas and foster entrepreneurship.
“It will be an important building,” he said.
Last year, Jay Graham, the university’s executive director of facilities, planning and design and architect, said Terrace Drive would meander past Crawford Hall, the new commercial building, and intersect Midway Drive. Crawford Hall is expected to be ready to host 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 passers-by on East Main Street see every day. The parking lot currently marks the end of the sparsely treed lawns that run down from the older buildings of the university. With the removal of the car park, this lawn will be extended further east.
Journalist Diane Smith can be reached at [email protected]