By definition, an endowment is when a donor makes a gift with the understanding that the college will never spend the original gift, just a portion of the investment earnings. The gift exists in perpetuity — that is, forever — and benefits all generations of SUNY Oswego students and the college’s programs.
Most often, we think of an endowment as the pot of money behind a scholarship. When a generous alumnus gives a $25,000 gift to Oswego (often with a multi-year pledge) with the intention to endow a scholarship, the funds are invested. Once they generate sufficient income (usually after a
year), a potential $1,000 scholarship can be awarded each year to a student meeting the donor’s criteria. The donor can designate whether the scholarship goes to a student with a certain
major, from a specific hometown or military background, or one who has overcome hardship or faces financial need.
An endowment could also create an excellence fund for an academic department, sports team or extracurricular program. The dean or director can use a portion of the accumulated earnings to bring speakers to campus, help students attend conferences and career-exploration field trips, or buy needed equipment.
One donor’s gift has allowed the establishment of a student-run Investment Club, which invests a portion of the endowed fund established by Gordon A. Lenz ’58 so students can learn about financial markets and gain real world investment management experience. The Public Justice Excellence Fund, established by David Cutler ’74, helps students attend an annual scholarly conference and travel to corrections facilities to explore career opportunities in the public justice field. An endowed chair, like the Marcia Belmar Willock ’50 Chair in Finance, provides funds to assist with paying the salary of a professor — usually a scholar of some renown — to teach in a particular area or department. These are but a few examples of the power of philanthropy.
The Oswego College Foundation has nearly 175 endowed funds providing more than $500,000 in scholarship and program support back to Oswego’s students. Annually, more than 200 students benefit from just the direct awards provided by donor-endowed scholarship funds. These are in addition to the scholarship benefits provided by the campus.
The Oswego College Foundation Board of Directors and its Investment Committee are charged with managing these endowment dollars to ensure that desired payouts are available each year and that they grow to match inflation.
Their diligent stewardship means the funds will always fulfill the donors’ wishes, benefiting generations of Oswego students and giving future donors the confidence to invest in Oswego’s mission.
Focusing on students and their needs as a way of paying tribute to her family perfectly fits Linda Panarites Sweeting’s sensibilities regarding philanthropy. A 1975 graduate, she has been making gifts to SUNY Oswego’s annual fund and volunteering as a reunion gift organizer over the years, but always “hoped to do more.”
When she consulted with her husband and her brother about honoring departed family members through an endowed scholarship, they were of one mind in creating a fund that would provide financial assistance to one entering student each year. That student would come to SUNY Oswego from Spencerport or Hilton, alternately, and would personify the values of the Panarites and Sweeting families.
Sweeting spent her career in the alumni and development office at SUNY Brockport, where she saw the “difference a gift could make in the lives of the student and the donor.” She says she always wanted to make a gift to Oswego that went beyond supporting the annual fund, and she was inspired in philanthropy by coworkers, especially Brockport faculty member emeritus Frances Moroney Whited ’44.
“I valued my time at Oswego and the education I received as a student,” Sweeting says. “Now, I completely admire and trust the people in the Office of Development, and I really like the direction Oswego is going in terms of academics.”
Sweeting says her father’s people came to America from Greece, and even though they all valued education, only one of the siblings had the resources to complete a college degree. The Panarites-Sweeting Family Scholarship will ensure that the selected student will have access to higher education without incurring crippling debt.
“When we talked to professionals at Oswego, we said we didn’t want to put a lot of restrictions on the choice of the recipient,” Sweeting says. “But when we met Bianca, the first recipient, and her family, we felt as if she had been hand picked for us.”
—Linda Loomis ’90 M ’97
T. Scott King ’74 and Deborah Coppola King ’75 of Delray Beach, Florida, are staunch supporters of SUNY Oswego. They recently gave a gift of $25,000 to the Possibility Scholarship program, with another $25,000 matched from Sun Capital Partners Inc., of which Scott King is Senior Managing Director.
The Possibility Scholarship program provides tuition assistance to students pursuing degrees in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Students must qualify academically and demonstrate financial need.
This is the Kings’ second contribution to the Possibility Scholarship program, and Scott says they support it because, “It’s a great program. It’s as simple as that. It’s given us an opportunity to help somebody that would otherwise struggle financially to go to college.”
Students awarded this scholarship are also given the chance to participate in the Global Laboratory program. This is an international research opportunity that is completed in the summer following each student’s sophomore year. This year, students have been placed in India, France, Brazil, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Taiwan.
The Kings’ generous gift will have a significant and positive impact on this program. “Both my wife and I graduated from Oswego,” Scott adds, “and we love to give back.”
—Kaitlin Provost ’12
Oswego public justice students are exploring career opportunities, attending conferences, and meeting mentors thanks to the generosity of David Cutler ’74, the founder and executive director of the Arapaho Community Treatment Center, a residential community corrections facility in Englewood, Colo.
Cutler augmented his Public Justice Excellence Fund with an additional gift of $170,000, bringing the total of the fund to $420,000. He is motivated to help Oswego students because of his love for his alma mater, which he feels provided a great education that helped him build his successful career. “We need good leaders in corrections and law enforcement. It’s a really challenging time right now in the field,” said Cutler, who noted that the field was “shrinking,” due to a drop in crime rates and smaller budgets.
He feels motivated to support Oswego because of his own experiences. “Oswego changed my life — that’s why I really wanted to contribute back to Oswego State,” he said. “I had a great time up there and learned so much.”
Using the Cutler fund money, the public justice faculty sends eight students each year to the Criminal Justice Educators Association of New York State, where they attend presentations and seminars and take advantage of opportunities to enhance their career searches.
“Our students make an excellent impression on faculty members of other colleges and they wish they could take their students to the conference,” said Public Justice Professor Diane Brand. “But they don’t have the blessing of Mr. Cutler to provide them with that opportunity.”
In addition, Cutler’s gift funds field trips for 40 students each year to maximum security Auburn and medium security Butler correctional facilities. As a result of one-on-one interaction with the inmates and corrections officers, some students are inspired to take courses toward a career in corrections and others have gone on to graduate school in counseling to work with inmates and those with substance abuse issues.
“It was very different than the textbook or reality TV shows,” said Gaston Owen ’13, a public justice major and forensic science minor who went on the prison field trip during his first semester at Oswego. “It helps you tweak your career options and think of things you might never have thought of before.” He serves as a peer adviser for other public justice majors and is an active member of the Public Justice Club, which brings speakers to campus and sponsors trips like one this spring to Washington, D.C.
Mike Muller ’13 went to the CJEANYS conference in October, in addition to attending the prison field trips. The public justice major and forensic science minor says hearing presentations by an ex-state trooper and professors from other colleges helped him refine his future goals.
“It was great to have a real-world experience. You can read every day in a book but it’s nothing like this,” he said. “We got to sit down with people who do it every day and hear their experiences.” In addition to his participation in peer advisement and the Public Justice Club, Muller serves as a teaching assistant. At press time, he was awaiting results of a physical that would allow him to accept a job with his hometown police force in Port Jervis right after graduation.
Oswego has been a family tradition for Barbara Brown McCormack ’44, going back to the turn of the last century. That’s why she has been a loyal supporter of The Fund for Oswego for more than 30 years and is a member of the 1861 Society of The President’s Circle.
“I loved Oswego when I went there, and think very highly of it.”
The love comes naturally. McCormack’s father, Leon N. Brown, went to the Campus School as a child in the early 1900s. Her mother, Helen Picken Brown ’18 took the train from Yonkers to enroll at Oswego Normal School.
McCormack herself attended the Campus School, literally following in her father’s footsteps as she walked from the family home several blocks away on West Mohawk Street. “In the winter snow, we sure were glad to see that pergola,” she said with a laugh.
McCormack met her first husband, John Murphy ’49, when both were undergraduates at Oswego. After his death, she married the late Robert “Rod” McCormack.
Her life is full of memories of the college, especially as a young bride working as a library assistant under legendary librarian Helen Hagger.
Even now, she loves to attend plays and musical performances on campus.
She supports Oswego with unrestricted gifts, giving to where the need is greatest, because of her high esteem for the college.
“I admire the school – they’ve done a wonderful job. It has a great reputation. Even people from afar know of Oswego. I know because I’ve lived afar,” said McCormack, who spent many years living in Montana and New Jersey.
Thanks to her loyal support and generosity, students today can benefit from the same great education McCormack enjoyed . . . and come to love Oswego as much as she does.
NEW PRESIDENT’S CIRCLE GIVING SOCIETIES will go into effect after June 30 of this year. Membership in the entry level of The President’s Circle will increase on July 1 from $250 to $1,000.
It is the first time since their establishment in 1984 that giving society levels will increase.
“Increasing the minimum donation for participation in The President’s Circle from $250 to $1,000 overcomes the inflationary forces that have eroded the real value of gift levels which have not changed for nearly three decades,” said Joy Westerberg Knopp ’92, director of annual giving. “Due to inflation, a $500 gift 28 years ago would be the equivalent of $1,070 today to make the same impact.”
See the chart at right for the new societies.
Also changing are the recognition levels for gifts from $250 to $999. Gifts from $250 to $499 will provide admission to the Green Club level, and gifts of $500 to $999 will designate members of the Gold Club level.
Donors wishing to stretch their giving to the next level so they continue to be a member of The President’s Circle will be able to make their gifts in installments.
Donors may make their gifts to be used in areas of greatest need or priority, or designate their gifts to support scholarships, one of the college’s four schools, an academic department, or a specific organization or program.
For more information on joining Oswego’s philanthropic leaders, call 315-312-3003 or visit alumni.oswego.edu/presidentscircle
New Giving Societies
(effective July 1, 2013)
THE PRESIDENT’S CIRCLE
$25,000 + Medallion Society
$10,000 – $24,999 Torchbearer Society
$5,000 – $9,999 Ambassador Society
$2,500 – $4,999 Ontarian Society
$1,861 – $2,499 1861 Founder’s Society
$1,000 – $1,860 Pillar Society
GREEN AND GOLD CLUB:
$500 – $999 Gold member
$250 – $499 Green member
JAMES F. OKONIEWSKI ’72 FEELS strongly about two things – his love for his hometown of Fulton and the Oswego County area, and his belief that mathematics is a key subject for success in life.
He decided to act on those convictions by establishing a scholarship for students from Fulton’s G. Ray Bodley High School, his alma mater, to attend Oswego and study math. His gift of $50,000 will endow a scholarship for a Bodley graduate with financial need, majoring in mathematics or in education with a concentration in math. The first scholarship will be awarded for the 2013-14 academic year, and it is renewable, provided the recipient meets certain academic standards.
“I’m trying to counteract the feeling out there that the study of mathematics is not that important,” Okoniewski said. “Math is clearly important in analyzing any situation.”
He pointed out that if people were better able to analyze the risks versus the return on their investments, it would benefit, not just individuals, but the economy as a whole.
It’s a strategy he used to build a successful real estate business by analyzing the value of his property investments.
Now he would like to share his success with students from his hometown school, where his cousin Joseph Sczupac was chair of the math department. Francis Godici was a Bodley math
teacher who influenced Okoniewski.
Okoniewski’s roots run deep in Fulton, particularly in its Polish community. He was the youngest president of the city’s Polish Home, a post he held in his teens during the 1960s. “When I was younger I hung around adults more than kids my own age, so that is when I joined the Polish Home,” he explained.
As an Oswego student, he took his love for his ancestral homeland one step further and studied one summer in Poland at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University, thanks to encouragement from Professor Emeritus Joseph Wiecha to apply and win a Kosciuszko Foundation fellowship.
Okoniewski shared his Polish heritage by starting a Polish language affiliation club at the college, holding a book drive to raise money to buy Polish literature for Penfield Library and bringing the first polka band to Oswego State.
He became a DJ at the student radio station WOCR and his talent was recognized by WRVO station manager Bill Shigley, who invited him to go on air at the public radio affiliate.
His other mentors were in the math department, including Professors Emeriti Richard Orr and John Daly.
Now the influence comes full circle, as with his generous endowed scholarship, Okoniewski reaches out to help generations of Oswego college students to come. l
— Michele Reed
THEY MET WHILE WAITING IN LINE AT THE DEAN’S OFFICE IN SHELDON HALL and fell in love at Oswego. Now, decades after that meeting and after 50 years of marriage, Ed ’62 and Janet Albreght Heinrich ’63 have made a special Reunion gift that will endow a scholarship fund for education majors.
“I started talking to Janet and cut the line,” Ed said. They dated a few times, but no real sparks until senior year when Ed asked Janet to iron a white shirt for him. He was desperate for help, so Janet ironed that shirt and the couple warmed to their new love.
Ed was president of the Class of 1962 and of Delta Kappa Kappa, and worked as a bus driver for the athletic teams. Janet was a member of Alpha Sigma Chi and the Catalina Club. Both went on to become teachers, and Ed spent 14 years in administration.
Along with Col. Jack James ’62 USMC (Ret.), Ed co-chaired the Class of 1962 Reunion giving committee. The 50th Anniversary Class of 1962 won the 2012 Reunion Participation Cup for a record-setting percentage of donors, with 147 donors or 48.5 percent of the class chipping in to raise $37,620.23.
Ed and Janet made a special Reunion gift to endow a scholarship for elementary education or technology education majors. Because Ed attended Oswego on the G. I. Bill, they would like the recipient to be a veteran.
“It is essential that we get the best into the classroom,” they said. The generous support of Ed and Janet Heinrich means that generations of the very best students will have the opportunity to become the best teachers of tomorrow.
To make a gift in honor of your special Reunion, contact the Oswego College Foundation in 215 Sheldon Hall or call 315-312-3003.
THE FAMILY OF THE LATE DAVID “AGARN” CRISAFULLI ’81 accepted a plaque made to honor him at the Baseball Reunion Weekend dinner last autumn. It was part of a weekend of events for former Laker players, coaches and fans. Pictured from left are Crisafulli’s sons, Austin and Dan; his sister Colette; mother, Margaret; and brother Dan.
The David “Agarn” Crisafulli ’81 Baseball Excellence Fund established in 2011 supports baseball travel, equipment and other expenses.