BREAKING: Kent State renames business school for Ohio businessman who supported Trump’s election

The rendering shows the south facade of Crawford Hall, the new home for the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Kent State University. (Rendering courtesy of The Collaborative Inc. in partnership with Perkins + Will)

Kent State’s business school will be renamed the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship, after Edward F. Crawford, a millionaire Ohio businessman who served as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Ireland after helping him win the battleground state in 2016.

Crawford made the “largest single gift in history” to support the construction of a new business school building, which will be named Crawford Hall, the university said in a statement Friday. They did not disclose the size of the donation.

Crawford, 83, is the chairman of Crawford United Corporation, CEO of The Crawford Group and Director of Park-Ohio, a supply chain logistics and manufacturing company based in Cleveland.

Pictured are (left to right) Ambassador Edward F. Crawford; Deborah Spake, Ph.D., dean of Kent State University’s Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship; Mary Crawford, Ambassador Crawford’s wife; and Kent State President Todd Diacon. Submitted photo

In 2016, Crawford was named Ohio finance chairman for the Trump campaign, and he donated $160,000 to a joint fundraising committee supporting Trump’s election.

Trump returned the favor by appointing Crawford, the son of Irish immigrants, as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland. Ohio Democrats and Republicans congratulated him on the appointment.

“I am always happy to see a fellow Clevelander nominated to serve and I wish him luck,” Sen. Sherrod Brown said at the time.

Crawford’s gift to Kent State will enable the university to build a state-of-the-art business school to replace its existing business administration building.

Below is the university’s press release announcing the gift and the renaming:

Kent State Announces Largest Single Gift in History From Ambassador Edward F. Crawford to ​Name the College and Construct New College of Business ​Building

Board of Trustees approves naming of Crawford Hall and the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship

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 College of Business Administration building on the university’s Kent Campus. The Kent State Board of Trustees approved the construction of a new, state-of-the-art building on behalf of the college in a special meeting held Friday, Oct. 22.

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 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 – which will be 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 and new building, the future is 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.

“The historic gift from Ambassador Crawford will serve the university and its future business students by preparing them to be successful in the workforce, which will help support and strengthen Ohio’s economy,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner. “This gift demonstrates an understanding of the value of higher education and appreciation for the quality instruction offered at Kent State University.”

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. More information on the college is available at

The Crawford Hall building project is part of the university’s recently announced $350 million comprehensive campaign, Forever Brighter. The campaign is the largest in history for Kent State and features three main fundraising priorities: Prioritizing Student Success, Expanding University Initiatives and Building the Future. More information on the comprehensive campaign is available at

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Ben Wolford is the editor and publisher of The Portager.