Oct. 23, 2013

Geneseo celebrates conclusion of Shaping Lives of Purpose

O'connell announcement

President Christopher C. Dahl thanks Greg O'Connell '64 following the surprise announcement on Sept. 27 that he is giving Geneseo $1 million. With this gift, the college completed "Shaping Lives of Purpose: The Campaign for Geneseo" with a total of $23.3 million. /PHOTO BY KRIS DREESSEN

Approximately 500 supporters of Geneseo gathered on Sept. 27 to celebrate the completion of the largest fundraising campaign in Geneseo’s history — with a surprise.

During a program in Wadsworth Auditorium to honor retiring President Christopher C. Dahl, an announcement was made that real estate developer Greg O’Connell ’64 will make a $1 million gift. With his gift, all told, donors committed $23.3 million during the six-year national campaign, “Shaping Lives of Purpose, The Campaign for Geneseo.” O’Connell said he was inspired by the president and that Geneseo has been a big part of his life, so he wanted to give something back.

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 ’73, contributed $1 million.

“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 ’74, campaign chair.

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, said Jack Kramer ’76, chair of the Geneseo Foundation Board of Directors.

Campaign funds support 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.