Bringing in the bucks for a new center

Plans for a new center go back to December 2022. Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

By Cassandra Lucyk

Youngstown State University has received more monetary donations toward a new student center. 

Paul McFadden, president of the YSU Foundation, said it received $2 million toward the $20 million goal, since the initial donation.

“The Gelbman Foundation has pledged $1.5 million and the Young family has pledged $400,000. We have a quarter of a million dollar gift and a $200,000 gift. So, we’re over $8 million at this point,” McFadden said.

The new donations come after the Zoldan family, the founders of Phantom Fireworks, donated $5 million.

Joy Polkabla Byers, associate vice president of Student Experience, said Kilcawley Center will be remodeled to better meet the needs of students.

“We are using the results from the needs assessment, a feasibility study that was done about a year and a half ago to see what campus needed in a student center,” Byers said. “A couple things that we found out is we want to modernize our facility and have more open spaces for students to collaborate and work on projects together.”

Byers said YSU plans on using the limited space it has more efficiently. 

“We can use the spaces multiple ways, and we can flip them easily. Such as, a large ballroom that can be split into four different meeting rooms. Those are the types of things that we’re thinking about when we talk about modernizing our student center on campus,” Byers said. 

Parts of Kilcawley’s interior have already been updated and repainted.
Photo by Elizabeth Coss / The Jambar

During construction, the facility will be completely shut down, but alternative locations will be provided for students to reach their food, event and meeting needs. 

Previously, YSU tore down buildings and replaced them with new ones without recognizing donors. Byers said the families who donated money in the past will still have recognition. 

“One of the things we’re looking at is creating an honor wall or recognition wall. I’m not sure what the title will be. That will be branded very much YSU, recognizing those who have impacted our student center over the years,” Byers said.

The Kilcawley family, families who donated money to the university and those who have naming rights of different spaces will be acknowledged in the updated building. There will also be opportunities for new families to be involved and recognized.

Although former YSU President Jim Tressel recently resigned, McFadden said Tressel and his wife are still heavily involved with this project. 

“We always have a volunteer campaign cabinet in the campaign, and former President Tressel and Ellen have volunteered to be the campaign leaders of this effort,” McFadden said. “We had several calls down in Florida on behalf of the Zoldan Center. Former President Tressel attended every meeting and advocated [for] the center.”

McFadden said the YSU Foundation and others involved in the project are still working on the timeline and raising funds for the new Zoldan Family Student Center.