For Immediate Release — December 16, 2004


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516



GENESEO, N.Y. — At 21 and in his junior year, Daniel R. Welchons has already immersed himself in the world of scientific research, preparing for doctoral and medical school after he graduates from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in biochemistry.

Conducting Alzheimer’s disease research, Welchons recently became a recipient of the prestigious national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for his achievements and potential in the field of biology. Working with Assistant Chemistry Professor Kazushige Yokoyama, he conducted a protein folding project based on a protein that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The research’s main purpose was to gain a better understanding of the protein folding dynamics and ultimately quantitatively define the folding of the protein.

In addition, the student from Clinton, N.Y., also finds time to teach a chemistry lab and run on the college’s track team.

Impressive students like Welchons don’t go unnoticed by the college. The Geneseo Foundation has provided grant money to Welchons to help enable him to conduct this vital research. And Welchons is grateful for this support, as he looks to academic life beyond Geneseo and a career in medical research.

"The Geneseo Foundation has helped to create an academic environment that nurtures students’ interests in research. The foundation has contributed monetary support and professional assistance in my research projects for over two years. Their support will provide me with enough experience during my undergraduate career to apply to some of the top professional and graduate schools in the country," Welchons said.

"I understand that the foundation is largely funded by alumni of Geneseo, and I am grateful for all of the patrons who have decided to support an institution whose sole basis is to provide students with the greatest possible academic experience."

The Geneseo Foundation is kicking into high gear at a time when colleges and universities in the State University of New York system, including Geneseo, are experiencing a continuing decline in funding from state government.

"The Geneseo Foundation plays a growing role in fostering excellence in all areas at Geneseo," said Art Hatton, president of the Geneseo Foundation and vice president for college advancement for SUNY Geneseo.

"Gifts from alumni and friends support a variety of faculty development programs, scholarships for students, funds for the library, public lectures, and other activities which add to the climate for a rich educational environment on campus," he said.

A decade ago, SUNY Geneseo received 60 percent of its funding from New York state. Today, that public funding covers about 30 percent of the college’s operations. To offset this decline in state support and preserve and ensure the future of the college, the Geneseo Foundation is aggressively reaching out to alumni, parents and friends for private support to provide a margin of excellence.

Established in 1971 as a non-profit and tax-exempt fund-raising organization, the foundation has the primary mission to help preserve and enhance excellence in undergraduate education by providing support for programs. The foundation provides: merit scholarships; undergraduate research grants; student and faculty summer fellowships, supported professorships, professional travel, research and incentive grants; lectures and special events; library support; academic enrichment funds; and other special campus activities.

The foundation sponsors the annual James Jeremiah Wadsworth Lecture Series. Two former U.S. Presidents, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, have been among the speakers for the lecture series, a much-anticipated annual event for the entire community. Support for the Wadsworth Lecture comes from an endowment gift from the late Alice Wadsworth Strong and Trowbridge Strong, and patron contributions. The series is named in honor of Mrs. Strong’s father, former United Nations Ambassador James J. Wadsworth, as a memorial to his life of public service and quest for world peace.

During the past 10 years, the foundation has raised nearly $17 million. In 2004, about 8,500 alumni and friends contributed $2.2 million to the foundation, making it the second straight year in which private support exceeded $2 million. That’s almost double the $1.07 million raised in 1995. Student support is growing, too.

Here are a few examples of how donations were put to use last year by the foundation:

520 students received scholarships totaling more than $475,000.

115 students were awarded Undergraduate Research Grants, totaling $44,000.

Geneseo faculty were awarded 260 professional travel and research grants, totaling nearly $200,000.

More than $450,000 in enrichment funds were provided for academic departments, library support and college activities.

In 2001, Kurt Fletcher, professor and chair of the college’s physics and astronomy department, was awarded the Geneseo Alumni Association Supported Professorship, a three-year award. According to Fletcher, "The supported professorship allowed me to develop and teach a course called ‘Living in the Future,’ where my students and I tried to imagine what life would be like for us 20 years from now. As a final project, we assembled time capsules with predictions, which I hope to open up in 2022. I also gave a Saturday morning talk on light for Geneseo alumni and their families at the Rochester Museum & Science Center. That was a great experience. Funding through the Geneseo Foundation and the Alumni Association made it possible for me to do things like these, which I normally would not get a chance to do.

"The foundation enriches the life of our campus in so many ways. It’s really impossible for me to imagine what the college would be like without the support we receive from the Geneseo Foundation."

As Hatton notes: "There are no great colleges without philanthropy."

Members of the foundation’s Board of Directors agree.

Edward Pettinella, immediate past chair of the foundation, and president and CEO of Home Properties Inc., received his bachelor’s in management from Geneseo in 1973. In 1988, he was elected to the foundation’s Board of Directors.

"SUNY offers a great education, but with the constant budget cuts I think the work the Geneseo Foundation does is going to shape the future of the college," Pettinella said.

"Geneseo has received much recognition for its quality and value offered, and that perpetuates itself by maintaining strong faculty and brings in a higher caliber of students — and more of them."

Pettinella said the foundation is on a mission to build its endowment so it can become more self-sufficient to do more for the campus with additional unrestricted funds. Unrestricted funds can be used at the foundation’s discretion for scholarships, grants, conferences, speakers, special events, lectures, receptions, equipment and professional travel.

Dean Johnston, chair of the foundation, said additional unrestricted funds would allow the Board of Directors to allocate funds as needed. In contrast, restricted funds go to specific items that are earmarked, such as scholarships. As stewards of the college, the Board of Directors must properly manage the funds and contributions, he noted.

"Any foundation is always striving to get unrestricted funds so they can build their endowment," added Johnston, a retired vice president of CPAC Inc., who has been involved with the foundation since 1983.

John Linfoot, vice chair of the foundation and president of Youngs & Linfoot Real Estate in Geneseo, said gifts to the Geneseo Foundation go a long way for a smaller-sized college like SUNY Geneseo.

"A gift to the foundation means more because of our size," Linfoot said. "A gift to Geneseo can make a greater difference than a gift to a much larger university.

"A gift to Geneseo goes right to the source, and it can create tangible benefits very quickly," said Linfoot, who joined the board in 1991 and whose mother, Ruth Linfoot, is a charter member of the foundation.

"As state support has declined, somebody had to fill that gap, and that’s the foundation’s job," Linfoot said. "It’s been a critical part of the community, both from an economic standpoint and a cultural standpoint. It provides an awful lot you wouldn’t have otherwise.

"We make a great effort to make it nicer for the faculty and students at Geneseo to have some of the benefits that may not be otherwise available," Linfoot said. "In order to maintain the quality and culture of the student body, we have to do everything we can to maintain the quality and caliber of the faculty. We do need to maintain the faculty.

"That’s our job. We’re there to make things possible that otherwise wouldn’t be possible, and we do that by raising money," Linfoot said.

It is these friends and supporters, including the directors and alumni, to whom Welchons, Fletcher and numerous other benefactors of foundation-backed grants are grateful. And the giving comes full circle, as students become alumni and give back to the college.

"Geneseo alumni have fond memories of their years on campus. They not only received an outstanding education, but many also made friendships that lasted a lifetime," noted Hatton.

"Our Geneseo alumni are very loyal and supportive of the college. They’re proud of the excellence Geneseo has achieved, and in growing numbers they are giving back to the college in appreciation for the education they received."

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