Judy Devine: Why I Give
Saying "thank you" for a lifetime of opportunities
Each of us has a different story regarding how, when and why we reached the decision to make a sizable contribution to Kent State University. At the time I retired from the university after 31 years, "giving back" was the furthest thing from my mind. But during that first year of retirement, I began to realize that literally all my material possessions were the result of my Kent State employment.
I began to reflect back over my wonderful career at the university. The chance the university had taken on an inexperienced 22-year-old, and the opportunities it had provided to me for personal and professional growth were beyond my imagined dreams. I tried to remember if I had appropriately said thank you when I left.
During the ensuing years, I returned to campus often, and later accepted the offer to return to the teaching faculty. Working with student-athletes and university staff members brought back fond memories, and led to my first thoughts of making a contribution to help preserve programs that had fueled my working passion. With assistance from the Institutional Advancement staff, we were able to craft two gifts that were dear to my heart: a facility enhancement to the Athletic Department's Academic Resource Center, and a means to provide funding, forever, for the Athletic Academic Honors Dinner.
While both gifts helped to emphasize the athletic department's long-standing commitment to the academic performance of student-athletes, it was not until I received numerous notes of thanks from individual athletes, entire athletic teams, coaches and athletic department staff members that the true value of the gifts was realized.
When I retired in 2000, there was one agenda item I had not yet completed: the elimination of all facets of gender discrimination within the area of intercollegiate athletics. It was a huge task mandated by the federal law known as Title IX, and the focal point for me and for the university for 38 years and counting. Although our women's athletics program had grown from literally nothing to the outstanding program we have today, we are not yet free of some remaining elements of gender-based discrimination, and my impatient patience was wearing thin!
In spite of my wonderful Kent State experiences, I continued to hold the university accountable for this failure. My thinking, however, kept referring to the entity of Kent State as "the university," or "they," or "it." As I looked to the future I could not foresee a viable solution as to how "they" were going to solve the problem.
In the midst of this dilemma however, I began to feel that, perhaps, my thinking was part of the problem! Kent State is not "the university" or "they" or "it." I had chosen to invest myself in every way I could imagine, except I had not yet become one with the university.
I now realize that I am Kent State, each of you is Kent State, we are Kent State. If Kent State has a problem, I have a problem. If Kent State succeeds, I succeed, and if Kent State fails, I fail. As my extended family, I must help nurture her as she has done for me. With that understanding, it was a privilege to establish the Athletic Equity Endowment as part of my estate plan to help us solve our problem.
While our stories may differ, we all hold Kent State University dear to our hearts, and the rewards of seeing our donations provide students and faculty with new facilities, scholarships, educational programs, research opportunities and outlets for creative expression are far greater than the value of our gifts.
The Centennial Campaign has given us a showcase for support and new ways to become more involved in Kent State's agenda of excellence. As donors, we are the true beneficiaries of this involvement. I encourage you to become involved with the Centennial Campaign.