Messages from Foundation Leadership
John A. Gleason ’87
Chair, The Geneseo Foundation, Inc.
- Read John's message
Dear alumni and friends,
In January 1971, the Geneseo Foundation was incorporated under Bob MacVittie’s presidency to raise private support for scholarships and research. Fifty years later, we are grateful for the alumni and friends of SUNY Geneseo who have worked with devotion to achieve that vision. They have strengthened the College by creating thousands of opportunities for students.
As of June 30, 2021, the endowment stands at more than $44.6 million. It’s an incredible accomplishment thanks to the generous spirit of donors and the work of foundation board members, especially our most recent chairs Kevin Gavagan ’75, Jack Kramer ’76, and Ed Pettinella ’73, as well as Frank Vafier ’74, who chaired the Shaping Lives of Purpose capital campaign in 2013. Art Hatton, VP for College Advancement and executive director of the foundation, also championed a successful 125th Anniversary Campaign in 1997.
As we gear up for our next capital campaign, we continue our hard work to advance the College’s mission and vision. Geneseo will always be an exceptional place where passions ignite, character is built, and careers are shaped — both in and outside the classroom. Thank you for supporting Geneseo and being an advocate for a Geneseo education.
John A. Gleason ’87
Chair, The Geneseo Foundation, Inc.
Ellen Leverich ’90
Vice President for College Advancement
Executive Director, The Geneseo Foundation, Inc.
- Read Ellen's message
Dear alumni and friends,
Geneseo’s mission “to welcome and inspire students to develop their knowledge and skills to build a better world” is fueled by your gifts. I am thankful for your generosity and proud of the work the Geneseo Foundation has accomplished during the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The College received an outpouring of generosity with more than 6,500 gifts made to support students, programs, and facilities on our campus. Together, we secured over $4.6 million! And all this during a full year of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This past year, we also provided 475 scholarships to students and 293 awards for student and faculty research, travel grants, assistantships, fellowships and ambassadorships. Private support continues to make a difference in so many ways.
As the Geneseo Foundation celebrates its 50th year of service to SUNY Geneseo, we are positioned to cross the $50 million threshold for assets under our management. I anticipate great achievements in the coming years.
I am grateful for your support and your trust in our team.
Thank you for believing in Geneseo.
Ellen Leverich ’90, Vice President for College Advancement
Executive Director, The Geneseo Foundation, Inc.
During 2020-2021, 54% of donors gave for scholarships and access to a Geneseo education.
50th Anniversary Reflections
Art Hatton, Vice President Emeritus for College Advancement
Served at Geneseo from 1973-2005.
"I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have worked closely with four Presidents (Bob, Ed, Carol, and Chris) — and hundreds of volunteer leaders — to increase recognition and private support for Geneseo over the years.
President MacVittie asked me to lead the Foundation when he retired in 1979. Communicating Geneseo’s need for private support, building a stronger alumni program, and recruiting volunteers to help tell the Geneseo story have been key elements to success.
In September 1992, the feasibility study for the 125th Anniversary Campaign for Geneseo prepared by a national fundraising consulting firm stated that... “The attitude toward Geneseo is clearly very positive. There is a strong feeling that the institution is a good college with high academic standards, a valued academic tradition, and an excellent faculty and staff.” That was true then, and it remains true today.
Thanks to the Geneseo Foundation, assets have grown from a few hundred dollars back in 1971 to an endowment of $44 million today.
As we celebrate Geneseo’s 150th Anniversary and look to a bright future for this very special place, I thank all of you for your loyal support in preserving and enhancing Geneseo’s Tradition of Excellence."
(Photo from SUNY Geneseo archives)
Ed Pettinella ’73, Geneseo Foundation Board Emeritus
Chair 1992-2001; Board Member 1988-2018
“Wow. It is hard to believe that it has been 50 years since our Foundation Board was formed. We have come a long way and we need to especially give a lot of credit to Art Hatton, our original advancement head and chief visionary. It is an honor to be part of the Foundation’s growth and success and I sincerely thank all contributors who participate in this tremendous journey to fulfill our original dream.”
Denise A. Battles, President, SUNY Geneseo
Serving since 2015
“The Geneseo Foundation is a tremendous asset for our College, not only through the resources it secures that benefit our students, personnel, and programs, but also the volunteer leadership it engages. The members of the Geneseo Foundation Board of Directors are deeply committed to the future of our College, and they demonstrate their commitment time and again through their gifts of time, talent, and treasure.”
Kevin Gavagan ’75, Geneseo Foundation Board Emeritus
Chair 2015-2017; Treasurer 2005-2015; Board Member 1997-2017
"The Shaping Lives of Purpose campaign was significant not only because we exceeded our fundraising goal of $23 million, but the college reconnected with many alumni, who also supported the campus during the campaign. The connections that were rekindled have led to even greater opportunities for advancement for the college. The real benefit, of course, is to the students, the faculty, and the overall operation. That’s the Foundation Board’s mission.
For the board members I’ve worked with through the years, their main drive is to give back to the college where they got their first start—the place that prepared them for their careers and lives. Watching these bright Geneseo students who are personable, working hard, and quick to express their gratitude for the work that people on the foundation board have done to support them is reinforcement for giving back.
As an alum and former board member, my support is payback owed to the place that gave me a pretty good start at life at a very reasonable cost."
Jack Kramer ’76, Geneseo Foundation Board Emeritus
Chair 2005-2015; Board Member 2004-2017
“I cherished the 12 years I served on the Foundation Board. It was a pivotal time for the Foundation as we matured into a diverse national organization and embarked on the successful Shaping Lives of Purpose capital campaign. It certainly wasn’t easy but seeing the impact the funds we raised had on the lives of Geneseo students and faculty made every moment worth it!”
Kristin Graham Koehler ’91, Geneseo Foundation Board Emerita
Secretary 2016-2020; Board Member 2014-2020
“One of the highlights for me in serving on the Geneseo Foundation Board was to be able to advocate for – and directly provide financial support to – current students. I received a Foundation scholarship while I was a Geneseo student, and it made a huge difference for me. I appreciated the opportunity on the Foundation Board to pay it forward and provide scholarships to Geneseo students, including the Graham Koehler New Horizons scholarship, which is given to a student planning to major in political science or intending to pursue a degree in law.”
Clare Cusack ’96, Geneseo Foundation Board Member
Secretary since 2020; Board Member since 2016
“When I donate to the Geneseo Foundation, I know the funding is going directly to the next Geneseo generation destined to make the world a better place. I’m so confident in that mission that I joined the Foundation Board to champion it first hand. Helping to marshal the time, talent and treasure of our extraordinary alumni community is an inspiring experience. It is an honor to be a part of the Foundation’s 50th anniversary and usher such an incredibly special organization into the next 50 years and beyond.”
New Endowed Funds and Scholarships
We received so many impactful and generous gifts this year. Among those are the individuals who chose to create endowments—forever funds—to ensure Geneseo’s future.
List of new endowed funds and scholarships
Acierno Family Scholarship Endowment
Kathleen Acierno Baron ’83, a member of the Geneseo Foundation
Board of Directors and a first-generation college graduate, established
an endowment to provide financial support for first-generation
Department of Political Science Endowment
Barbara Bilodeau ’86, a member of the Geneseo Foundation Board of Directors, established an endowment to support activities and programs in the Department of Political Science.
Dr. Amy S. Tolbert '85 Endowed Scholarship in Communication
Author of multiple books and other printed works, Dr. Amy Tolbert '85 established the endowment fund to aid excelling communication students who are entering their junior year at Geneseo.
Dr. Demetrice A. Worley Social Justice Research Endowment
SUNY Geneseo Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of History Stacey Robertson established the endowment in honor of her friend, Dr. Demetrice A. Worley, to provide financial assistance to faculty or student research projects surrounding social justice issues. Dr. Worley’s commitment to social justice teachings and achievement of being the first black woman to become a full tenured professor at Bradley University.
Dr. Denise Battles and Dr. Michael Mills Scholarship Fund
SUNY Geneseo President Denise A. Battles and her spouse, Director of National Fellowships and Scholarships Michael Mills, created an endowment to provide annual awards for undergraduate research and creative scholarly activity. They want to make research opportunities available to students who might not have access to such experiences.
Dr. Richard Wayne Mahood Memorial Scholarship Endowment
Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Education Dr. Richard Wayne Mahood (Geneseo faculty 1969-1994) inspired generations of Geneseo students. Established by his family, friends, and former students, the endowment provides financial assistance to a junior or senior adolescence education major with a concentration in social studies or history.
Kenneth and Susan Henk Scholarship Endowment
Thomas Henk ’92, a member of the Geneseo Foundation Board of Directors and a first-generation college graduate, created an endowment named after his parents, who supported him throughout his years at Geneseo. The scholarship is awarded to an incoming or current student with a preference for first-generation students and accounting majors.
Luckern/Miles Memorial Scholarship Endowment
Mary E. Luckern ’53 established this endowment in honor of her aunt and great-aunt, Abigail Miles from the class of 1891 and Abigail Miles from the class of 1922. The scholarship is awarded to an academically outstanding incoming student majoring in education with a preference to students residing in Geneva or Seneca Falls.
Margaret Fechtmann Memorial Endowed Scholarship
The Blair family, including Jessica Partch ’00 Blair and Peter Blair ’00, and Virginia and Robert Blair, established the endowment in memory of their aunt and sister Margaret Fechtmann. The scholarship is awarded to an incoming Geneseo student who needs financial assistance.
Rick and Betty Smith Scholarship Endowment
Professor of Chemistry Rick Smith served as chemistry department chair from 1985-1994 and was a founding member of Geneseo's biochemistry program. He and his spouse, Betty, created the Rick and Betty Smith Scholarship Endowment to support incoming or current Geneseo students with financial needs.
William D. Leyerle Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund
Dr. William D. Leyerle, lecturer emeritus in the department of music, was committed to his music students here at Geneseo and their futures. His sister, Betty Leyerle, established the William D. Leyerle Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund in his memory. The scholarship is awarded to incoming or current Geneseo students in the music program.
William Edward and Mary Cockram Morse Scholarship Endowment
Mary Cockram Morse is the daughter and niece of former alumnae Myrtle Belle (Smith) Cockram ’34 and Virginia Mae Smith ’35. In honor and memory of her mother and aunt and their careers in teaching, Mary Cockram Morse established the endowment to support students in the School of Education who are student teaching.
Establish a Geneseo Endowment
Interested in creating an endowment? You can learn more about endowments on our website or get in touch via email@example.com or 585-245-5518. We'd be happy to tell you more about the steps and options.
Give to Geneseo
There may be no greater gift than access to education. Supporting Geneseo strengthens the College's ability to assist students in financial need, and to provide merit-based scholarships that attract the brightest young minds to our campus. Make a donation.
"I am deeply grateful to have received this scholarship. I am very excited to be able to continue studying music. Someday, I want to teach at a college and conduct a sympathy orchestra. Thanks to your kindness, I will be able to continue my education, pushing me one step further to my dream.”
Shamar McFarlane '25
Music Education Major
Robert and Jeanette McFarlane Music Scholarship
In the Words of a Scholarship Recipient
“Words cannot describe how utterly appreciative I am for your support. It is truly a blessing to have received this scholarship, and it means the world to me and my mom. Due to your extraordinary generosity, a crushing weight has been lifted off my shoulders. During my senior year, I will be able to fully dedicate myself to the betterment of the Geneseo community, just as how it has bettered me.”
Alexa Gutwenger '22
Business Administration Major; Marketing Minor
Recipient of the Edward Pettinella 1973 Scholarship
Growing Alumni Engagement
The Office of Alumni Relations and SUNY Geneseo Alumni Association connect a network of more than 63,000 alumni from every state in the U.S. and 44 countries around the globe.
As of June 30, 2021, nearly 1,200 alumni volunteered their time as board members, affinity and regional chapter representatives, social media ambassadors, and classroom speakers. Additional connections were fostered by 1,530 alumni through the Alumni Book Club and 69 virtual events, including campus and career chats, networking sessions, and lifelong learning opportunities.
The Alumni Career Advisor Network, an online mentoring platform that links students with alumni to explore potential careers, job search advice, and networking opportunities, engaged 1,292 alumni participants.
Knight Nation Social Media Ambassadors
The Office of Alumni Relations launched Knight Nation Ambassadors, a new social media ambassador program to expand the reach of our Geneseo community across social networks. Knight Nation Ambassadors earn points and win prizes for sharing. It’s a way to show your love for Geneseo and share content on your social media accounts. Learn more on the Knight Nation website.
Giving Tuesday Fundraiser
Geneseo participated in its first Giving Tuesday fundraiser — #OneDayOneKnight — a global generosity movement on December 1, 2020.
There were 544 donors, including alumni, friends, and Geneseo Foundation board members, who joined together to raise more than $130,000 for the College and make a positive impact for students.
Geneseo Foundation Timeline 1971 - 2021
In 1971, as the College celebrated its 100th anniversary, Robert W. MacVittie made the visionary decision to create the Geneseo Foundation, Inc., in recognition that private support would be needed in the years ahead to supplement declining state support for the College. Eight years later, the first annual fund drive was held to generate revenue to support students, faculty, and programs. By 1984, the first Phonathon was launched, a fundraising tradition of connecting students and alumni that continues today.
As the Geneseo Foundation celebrates its 50th anniversary, the endowment has grown to nearly $45 million (as of June 30, 2021). Because of donor support, thousands of opportunities for students and faculty have been created, bolstering student success and strengthening the college for the future.
Visit the Geneseo Foundation 50-year timeline.
(Photo from SUNY Geneseo archives)
Except where otherwise noted, photography on this page is by Keith Walters '11. To purchase SUNY Geneseo campus and community photos (and support Geneseo with your purchase), visit our online image store.