GENESEO, N.Y. — SUNY Geneseo will honor several of its most active volunteers and supporters at the college’s 23rd Annual President’s Donor Recognition Dinner on April 30. This event is held each year to recognize and celebrate the generosity of benefactors of SUNY Geneseo, and is attended by hundreds from the college and community.

The Geneseo Foundation will present Meritorious Service Awards to Geneseo Professor Emeritus of Art Paul Hepler; retired public schools educator Ruth Hawley Gibson ’56 of Perry Center; and Geneseo businessman Barry Caplan.

The Foundation will also present Nancy Least of Geneseo with the college’s 2004 Volunteer of the Year Award.

As a lifelong educator in Wyoming County and 1956 graduate of SUNY Geneseo, Ruth Hawley Gibson has contributed to public education as a professional and as a volunteer. She began her career by initiating and directing speech correction programs at Warsaw and Wyoming schools, and from 1965-92 taught remedial reading at Perry High School. At Perry, she also directed the Drama Club and the AFS Foreign Exchange Program.

Beyond her professional responsibilities, Gibson has served the cause of public education as a member of the Geneseo Alumni Association (GAA) Board of Directors since 1965, including many years as its secretary. She received the GAA Distinguished Service Award in 1991, and was recognized among 100 of the college’s most notable alumni on the occasion of its centennial celebration in 1971.

As a member of the Wyoming County Project Read Program Board of Directors since 1978, Gibson has helped encourage parents to read to their children, by working through schools, libraries and social service agencies.

As a volunteer tutor for Literacy Volunteers of America since 1992, she has taught Reading and English to Speakers of Other Languages to more than 30 individuals. In the same period, she has also promoted international understanding through service to the Rotary Youth Exchange Program in Perry, by interviewing and counseling students sent abroad, and securing host homes for each overseas student visiting Perry. She received the Paul Harris Award, the Rotary Club’s highest honor, in 2002.

Professor Emeritus of Art Paul Hepler has served SUNY Geneseo and its surrounding community as a teacher, artist and architectural designer since 1956. After 36 years on the faculty, including many years as chair and member of the art department and numerous college-wide committees, Hepler retired in 1992. He continues to teach in the department, serves on the Geneseo Foundation’s Art Gallery Collection Committee, and is official curator of the college president’s home art collection.

Hepler has made his mark on the architecture of the campus and the local community, by contributing to numerous building designs. Projects in which he has been involved include the Scoville Block in Geneseo, which won a New York State Community Renovation Award, and he received individual commendation from the Association for the Preservation of Geneseo (APOG) for his role in moving and restoring Erie Railroad Station in Highland Park. Hepler is a charter member of APOG, and a former Village Planning Board chair and trustee of Geneseo Methodist Church. He has served various other local and state organizations, including the NYS Craftsmen Board and an eleven-state crafts council based in New York City. His paintings, drawings and wood designs have been featured in exhibitions in New York, Albany and Rochester, and he has juried many local and regional art shows.

Hepler earned his M.A. and Ed.D. in art education at Teachers’ College Columbia.

Barry Caplan established Sundance Books in 1972 as a Main Street bookstore, and added a text book outlet on School Street in the mid-90s. On earning the campus bookstore contract in 1999, the company launched Under the Sun, involving several local businesses in the Robert W. MacVittie College Union.

Caplan has also joined with other business owners to promote community events, particularly by spearheading the Geneseo Uptown Merchants’ Association (GUMA). The association coordinates an annual Teddy Bear Parade at the Geneseo Rotary Summer Festival and a Community Christmas Sing, and participates in the college’s annual Weekend of Welcome (WOW) each fall.

Caplan is a member of the Livingston County Planning Board and the Association for the Preservation of Geneseo. He also serves on the College-Community Council and on the Corporate and Business Partners Advisory Council (CBPAC), which works to promote mutually beneficial partnerships between the college and local businesses.

Caplan and his wife Angela Amedore Caplan, a 1974 graduate of SUNY Geneseo and owner of Genesee Valley Dance, are longtime, generous donors to the college, where they established the Josephine and Armand Amedore Book Award for students in need. The Caplans are also members of the Friends of Music, the Geneseo Friends of Art and the Spencer J. Roemer Arboretum, and Barry is on the national board of directors of the REX Foundation. The REX Foundation, which supports community-based projects throughout the United States, was established by the Grateful Dead and named in memory of a member of the rock group’s support staff.

Nancy Least has served as chair of the SUNY Geneseo CBPAC since 2001. Established in 1995, the group’s approximately 60 members contribute financial and in-kind support for community and college programs and services. The council also helps coordinate a variety of college-community collaborations, including education and training programs, sharing of informational resources, consulting services, student internships, and research sponsorship.

Least has also lent generous support to the community and the college, through Roger’s Haircraft in Geneseo and Lakeville, and Salon Secrets in Geneseo.

Least is a member of GUMA, the Geneseo Rotary Club and the board of directors for the American Red Cross, and serves as a patient care volunteer at Teresa House and as the volunteer coordinator of Geneseo Central School’s job shadowing program.

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