Kay Kirkman

Honored by:The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Brick location:G:17  map

Kay Kirkman became Director of Development for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in December 1991. She had six years of fund-raising experience at Wentworth Military Academy and Reach Out America, a drug prevention program, in Kansas City. Her training was in journalism and corporate communications and she brought those skills to her new position.

One of her first tasks was to create a fund-raising plan for the renovation of Old Botany, the 1892 building that is now called Carrie Chapman Catt Hall. $5 million was needed to renovate the building and the college was committed to raise $825,000 of that amount in private gifts. Major donors had been sought for three years with little effect. It was Kay’s idea to create a Plaza of Heroines as a fund-raising vehicle. She believed that it would appeal to many people, including those who had no particular tie to Iowa State University but were interested in honoring women who were important in their lives.

She wrote a brochure that described the project and the ISU annual giving office used it in a telemarketing effort to 10,000 alumni. She worked with volunteers to solicit major gifts and with a dedicated group of university fundraisers and public relations professionals. Media attention quickly brought the idea to prominence, both in the local and national areas. In less than a year, the funds necessary to renovate the building were donated to the college. Almost 1,000 people who were not ISU alumni contributed to the project and more than 2,500 women were honored by the time the building was dedicated on October 6, 1995.

Kay continued to lead the development efforts of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences until 1997 and helped significantly increase private support. In recognition of her efforts, the College has honored her with a brick in the Plaza of Heroines.

Submitted 4/19/95, updated 12/9/2013