SUNY Geneseo campaign raises more than $23M
GENESEO – The largest fundraising campaign in SUNY Geneseo history reached its conclusion with a $1 million gift from an alumni who graduated nearly 50 years ago.
The five-year national campaign, “Shaping Live of Purpose, The Campaign for Geneseo,” raised in excess of $23 million, according to college officials.
Greg O’Connell, a 1964 SUNY Geneseo alumnus and successful real estate developer who has helped lead a Main Street resurgence in Mount Morris, made the surprise announcement at a Friday evening celebration honoring Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl.
O’Connell said Geneseo was a big part of his life and he wanted to give something back. He said he was inspired by accolades Dahl has received and Dahl’s impact on the success of the college. Dahl is retiring next June after 20 years with the college; he has been president for the past 18 years, and begins a 9-month sabbatical next week.
“I can think of no better way to honor the distinguished educational legacy President Dahl is giving us than to announce that we have surpassed our campaign goal, and we are enormously grateful to Greg for the wonderful exclamation point he has placed on our success,” said Frank Vafier, a 1974 Geneseo graduate and chair of the campaign.
“I sincerely thank Chris for his 18 years of presidential leadership and commend everyone responsible for guiding and supporting the campaign – alumni, faculty, friends, parents and students. This is a tremendous day for SUNY Geneseo, and we enthusiastically celebrate the moment as we look to the future and our next campaign with great optimism,” Vafier said.
Collectively, 12,900 of Geneseo’s alumni – about 20 percent – contributed to the campaign. They were joined by an additional 7,100 donors, including parents; faculty, staff and emeriti; students; friends of the college; corporations; and foundations. The college received its largest-ever gift during the campaign: $2.5 million from Charles “Bud” VanArsdale to endow the VanArsdale Chair in Entrepreneurship. In addition, Edward Pettinella, a 1973 alumnus, contributed $1 million.
Funds from the campaign are supporting a variety of projects including the college’s scholarship program, student research projects, such as the Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Development and the college’s athletic program. Funds also will support the college’s faculty and academic programs through investment in high-impact learning experiences, interdisciplinary coursework and strong library resources.
Dahl called the successful campaign “a turning point” for the college and praised Vafier for aggressively moving it forward in the midst of shrinking state support for higher education.
“Frank’s dynamism and love for Geneseo have served him well in bringing this campaign home,” said Dahl. “I am deeply grateful for his enthusiasm, strategic sense and unwavering persistence in seeking support from all members of our extended family. I send my sincere thanks to everyone who planned this splendid effort and guided it to its successful conclusion. Reaching the goal is a great highlight of my years at Geneseo. It’s deeply satisfying to me that the college and its supporters have focused so keenly on our students’ success and the needs of the world-class faculty who teach them.”
Jack Kramer, chairman of the Geneseo Foundation Board of Directors and a 1976 Geneseo graduate, said members of the college’s 18 regional alumni committees, who hosted and attended campaign events across the country the past two years, were key to the campaign’s success.
“The generosity and hard work of our regional committees played a pivotal role,” said Kramer. “They deserve high praise. Their commitment has paid off and will help ensure the college’s continued excellence for future generations of students. I hope the success of this campaign will encourage all Geneseo alumni to engage with their alma mater and become a part of enhancing the educational experience for our students and faculty.”