Zoldan Center receives $325,000 donation

By Christopher Gillett

Editor’s Note: A correction was made in regards to the start time for demolition.

Jocelyne Linsalata, a member of the Youngstown State University board of trustees, donated $325,000 to the YSU Foundation for the creation of the Zoldan Family Student Center.

Linsalata said she donated funds because she believes  it’s time for an upgraded vision of Kilcawley Center.

“[Kilcawley has] served the students well. It’s served the university well for many many years. I believe in [former] President Tressel and his board, their vision to enhance and upgrade it, to do some rebuilds. I think the timing is right for that,” Linsalata said.

Before her donation and appointment as a national trustee in June, Linsalata attended YSU, earning her bachelor’s degree in 1974, a master’s degree in 1980 and served as a trustee on the YSU Foundation for over 15 years.

Linsalata said student centers are the “hearts” of universities and related that importance to her time as a YSU student.

“The student center is essentially the heart of a university and the existing student center in Kilcawley … is where I went as a student,” Linsalata said. “I was — like many students at that time — a commuter student. So, it basically was for meals and to meet friends for social events.”

Announced in January, the Zoldan Center project to replace Kilcawley Center will begin demolition in summer 2025. YSU has contracted Strollo Architects, Inc. who previously designed the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

Paul McFadden, president of the YSU Foundation, said the Zoldan Center spawned from the idea of a new Kilcawley.

“The Zoldan Center morphed after the idea of ‘We needed a new Kilcawley.’ Now, Kilcawley [Center] has served us so well. It was built in the mid to late 1960s [and] it’s been added onto three times,” McFadden said. “Kilcawley’s been wonderful for our students, but it’s just tired. It’s not an efficient set up anymore, and times have changed.”

The new center will be named after the Zoldan Family, the owners of Phantom Fireworks, after they gave an initial $5 million donation for its creation.

Another donation came from the Gelbman Foundation, which gave $1.5 million and will have a multi-purpose room named after the Gelbman family to replace the Chestnut Room.

The Hynes-Finnegan Foundation also gave $450,000 and will have entrances in the Zoldan Center named after each surname.

The Zoldan Center will also include a wall dedicated to Kilcawley Center, its former donors and previous student centers.

The total cost of the Zoldan Center will be somewhere around $45 million, with the YSU Foundation’s goal to raise $20 million for it. With the donations, the foundation is about halfway toward that goal. McFadden said the YSU Foundation will have to reach out to less familiar donors.

“The second [half of fundraising is] always the toughest, cause we’ve already gone to the closest friends we have. Now, we’ve got to reach out and really roll up our sleeves to meet some new donors that we think can help us with this. So, we’re halfway, and we’ll get the second half done,” McFadden said.

To learn more about the YSU Foundation, go to its website.