The gift is the second largest private donation in the university's history, almost matching a $1.1-million gift Pizzuti, a 1962 KSU graduate, gave to the school in 1996.
The gift will be split among three areas:
$500,000 will fund five Medallion Scholarships, which provide students with four years of tuition, fees and $1,000 stipends.
$250,000 for the endowment at the Kent State University Museum.
$250,000 for faculty and academic development.
The gift was a complete surprise but is a sign that potential donors are becoming aware of KSU's heightened fund-raising efforts, said KSU President Carol Cartwright.
"I think it's one of the things that happens when you get in a mode for a campaign," she said.
KSU has created a Centenial Commission as a major step toward a capital campaign. Although a capital campaign is still in the planning stages, KSU fundraisers have seen an increase in donations and the number of donors to the university.
In 1997, KSU received more than $10 million from private sources, including donations from alumni, friends of the university and corporate sponsors, up from $6 million received in 1996. Alumni donations account for $1.3 million of the 1997 donations, up from $1.2 million in 1996.
Although the university did not ask for the gift, its appearance shows KSU is having more success attracting private donations, Pizzuti said.
"This is a good indication of how we as a university are growing," he said. "We're growing up in terms of fundraising."