SUNY Geneseo Honors Morses’ Philanthropy

Mary Morse holding picture of her late husband William Morse

Mary Morse with a photo of her late husband William Morse (SUNY Geneseo/Matt Burkhartt)

The Geneseo Foundation and SUNY Geneseo recognized donor Mary Cockram Morse and her late husband, William Edward Morse, for their generosity and support of the College at the Donors of Distinction ceremony on April 27. President Denise Battles presented Morse with a replica of the Clock on the Green and unveiled a plaque that reads “WILLIAM EDWARD & MARY COCKRAM MORSE: FRIENDS OF THE COLLEGE” on the Donors of Distinction Wall and Garden outside Wadsworth Auditorium.

Mary Morse’s mother, Myrtle Belle Smith, graduated from Geneseo Normal School in 1934. Smith taught in area schools, including grades 1–8 in a one-room schoolhouse in Seneca, seventh and eighth grades in Geneva, and later returned to the classroom to help her daughter Mary pay for College. Smith retired from teaching fifth grade in Clifton Springs in 1971.

Morse followed her mother’s footsteps in a career in education. She attended Hood College in Frederick, MD, and received her BA in education from the University of Michigan School of Education. She taught at Buckman Heights Elementary School in Greece, NY, and returned to Michigan in 1970, where she taught for the remainder of her 47-year career. She married William Edward Morse in 1976 and shared a happy life with him until his death  in 1992.

The Morses believed in the importance of a college education. As a result of their conviction, Mary created the William Edward and Mary Cockram Morse Scholarship in 2017 to benefit SUNY Geneseo’s Ella Cline Shear School of Education students who need financial assistance during their student-teaching semester. 

“Mary, your steadfast belief in the value of a college education, and your generous philanthropic support of Geneseo is outstanding and truly inspirational to us all,” said President Battles. “Your generosity has greatly benefitted Geneseo students, and your legacy will continue well into the future.”

The Morses join 14 other donors who have made notable lifetime contributions to the College and were honored with a plaque on the Donors of Distinction Wall. Previously honored Donors of Distinction include: Spencer J. Roemer, Emeritus Dean; The Jewish Foundation For Education of Women; Charles L. Van Arsdale, Friend of the College; Kevin ’75 and Nancy ’76 Gavagan; Richard J. ’46 and  Mary Thomas ’40 Fernan; Cal G. Melick ’69; Edward J. Pettinella ’73; Geneseo Student Association; The Csapo Family and Ambassador Apartments; Jack ’76 and Carol Patterson ’76 Kramer; Campus Auxiliary Services; Daniel ’86 and Nancy Wentworth ’86 Loughran; Geneseo Alumni Association; Gregory ’64 and Elizabeth O’Connell.


Monique Patenaude, PhD
Director of Content Strategy & Media Relations
(585) 245-5056