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Gratitude for an Exceptional Community

Geneseo Foundation Annual Report 2019-2020

For public colleges like Geneseo, financial pressure is compounded by a significant reduction in state support over the years. We're immensely grateful to the thousands of alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends who have stepped forward to ensure that Geneseo maintains its position among the nation’s foremost public liberal arts colleges.

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Annual report PDF

To download the print version of the Foundation Annual Report, click the thumbnail above.

Messages from Foundation Leadership

John Gleason

John A. Gleason ’87
Chair, The Geneseo Foundation, Inc.

Geneseo Foundation logo

Ellen Leverich

Ellen Leverich ’90 
Vice President for College Advancement
Executive Director, The Geneseo Foundation, Inc.

Geneseo logo

Read John's message

Dear alumni and friends,

As we approach Geneseo’s sesquicentennial, I reflect on the proud history and resiliency of our college—an extraordinary place of extraordinary people dedicated to improving generations of lives. Geneseo is a place where exploration and intellectual discovery shape paths and launch careers, and a faculty whose values and goals inspire graduates to pay it forward.

Today we are facing some of the greatest social challenges our nation has seen. Geneseo students and alumni are uniquely prepared to lead our nation in the dialogue necessary to move us forward. And as we have done and will always do, Geneseo works tirelessly to meet the needs of students and prepare them for success in the world.

The Foundation has great stories to tell about our Geneseo family—our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and perhaps most important, our donors. Your generosity and involvement make scholarships, student-faculty research grants, and program support for providing high-quality experiences possible. These are just a few examples of how you make a difference.

Thank you for choosing to invest in SUNY Geneseo. Your partnership creates an immediate and enduring impact today and tomorrow.

John A. Gleason ’87
Chair, The Geneseo Foundation, Inc.

Read Ellen's message

Dear alumni and friends,

In February of 2020, I returned to Geneseo to serve as the Vice President for College Advancement and Executive Director of the Geneseo Foundation. It is a privilege and a joy to be back at my alma mater. I’d like to thank each of you who extended to me such a warm welcome.

I’d also like to thank those of you who stood by our students and campus community during this year of unprecedented challenges. As you will read in the report that follows, Geneseo alumni and friends rallied to secure $3.4 million in new gifts and pledges. You answered the call to support our students. First-time and returning donors contributed more than $100,000 to establish the One Knight Student Aid Fund to provide relief for students facing financial struggles due to COVID-19 so that they could continue their education in the face of crisis.

The Office of Alumni Relations took advantage of our collective growing comfort with remote connections to launch several new programs this past year. Among the most successful are the Alumni Career Advisor Network that connects students with alumni for mentoring and networking and the Alumni Learning Consortium, which provides free access to online learning programs.

In October 2019, the college held its 38th Annual President’s Gala honoring donors and presenting recognition awards to Frank L. Vafier ’74 and Larry Scoville for their exceptional contributions to SUNY Geneseo. You can read more about their contributions to Geneseo on page 11 of the report. We are so grateful for their leadership and generosity.

Thank you for your personal support of Geneseo this past year. Looking forward, we will need to rally together as a Geneseo community even more than ever. The challenges ahead of us are significant, but we know the impact that a Geneseo education has on an individual and subsequently the world. Together, we can ensure that Geneseo retains its place as a premier liberal arts institution for generations of students to come. Please accept my deepest gratitude for choosing to give to Geneseo.

Ellen Leverich ’90, Vice President for College Advancement
Executive Director, The Geneseo Foundation, Inc.

Donor Impact

During 2019-2020, 34% of donors gave for scholarships and access to a Geneseo education.


In the Words of a Scholarship Recipient

Aaliyah Klotz

"With this scholarship, I have one less thing to stress about amongst the many other stressors such as school, work, athletics, and trying to balance it all in the midst of the world’s largest pandemic. Again, thank you so much for giving me the ability to pursue my education, fulfill my goal of becoming a teacher and giving other youth the gift of education — the greatest gift to offer. I appreciate you more than you could ever imagine."

Aaliyah Klotz '24
Physics and Education
Track & Field Student-Athlete
Recipient of the Richard 1946 and Mary 1940 Fernan Scholarship

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

The DeForest Scholarship Endowment

SUNY Geneseo Alumni Association Board of Directors member Kate DeForest ‘93 created a trust and named Geneseo as a beneficiary in her estate, which will create an endowed scholarship for students demonstrating need.

The Dr. Robert M. and Maria L. Isgro Choral Music Endowment and Scholarship Endowment

Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Music Robert “Bob” Isgro and Maria “Mary” Isgro made a blended gift to establish The Dr. Robert M. and Maria L. Isgro Choral Music Endowment to support all academically recognized chorus ensembles of Geneseo, from artists-in-residence and voice lessons to performances and tours. They also contributed to their existing Dr. Robert M. and Maria L. Isgro Scholarship Endowment to support Geneseo students pursuing a degree in vocal performance who have demonstrated excellence in their craft.

Karen Davis ’66 Endowed Scholarship in Education

Because of her lifelong passion for SUNY Geneseo, Karen Davis ’66 established an endowment to award scholarships to incoming or current students enrolled in the School of Education and are active volunteers in the community or on campus and demonstrate financial need.

The Dwyer Family and Gilmore Family Scholarship Endowment

David Dwyer ’73 and Ann Dwyer O’Neil established the endowed fund in honor of Edward Dwyer ’53, Elizabeth Dwyer ’42, and Jean Gilmore ’42. Edward Dwyer had a lifelong passion for Geneseo, especially in the area of music theater and dance. The scholarship will be awarded who have interest or talent in the dramatic arts.

The Amy S. Janicki 2013 Memorial Scholarship Endowment

Dennis and Susan Janicki, parents of Amy Janicki ’13 who suddenly passed away in 2015, and fundraising support led by Madeline (Maddie) Herrick ’14, a sorority sister, established the annual scholarship to be awarded to Geneseo students with preference to Sigma Delta Tau members.

The Emerging Leaders Scholarship Endowment

Jennifer Cotton ’95, who considers her college experience transformational in defining her career path, established the endowment fund to award scholarships to students with a demonstrated interest in leadership, including academic, co-curricular, and/or community activities.

The Bill Leverich Scholarship Endowment

Bill Leverich, the father of Ellen Leverich ’90, was a dedicated English literature teacher and valued access to higher education for all people. Ellen established The Bill Leverich Scholarship Endowment in honor of her father to provide scholarship assistance to students who demonstrate financial need.

The Jane Mannheim Claud ’69 and Elmer A. Mannheim Scholarship Endowment and The Jane Mannheim Claud ’69 Unrestricted Fund for Milne Library

Jane Mannheim Claud ’69 established both an endowed and unrestricted fund through a blended gift to support students and SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and associated programs.

Saturday Morning Scholarship in Advertising

Kwame Taylor-Hayford ’05, co-founder at Saturday Morning, a not-for-profit organization that fights injustice and bias to promote peace and generate love between people of all races, established a fund to award an annual scholarship to a junior or senior who demonstrates an interest in pursuing a career in the creative side of the advertising industry and is enrolled in a similar program, such as communications or marketing.

The Joyce Wechsler and Louise Wechsler Medby Scholarship

Joyce Wechsler, associate professor emerita of education, whose career at SUNY Geneseo spanned almost 30 years, endowed the Joyce Wechsler and Louise Wechsler Medby Scholarship in honor of her late sister. The renewable scholarship provides financial support for Geneseo students who participate in co-curricular activities, including clubs and organizations.

physics student

Establish a Geneseo Endowment

Interested in creating an endowment? You can learn more about endowments on our website or get in touch via 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.

Betsy Hutchinson

"The incentive grant-funded research activities for myself and for students. My research focuses on characterizing the genetic pathways that control mating in filamentous fungi. Understanding how fungi exchange genetic information is an important basic biology question and has applications to understanding fungi in general, including pathogens. Student research funded by this grant was crucial in preparing students for graduate and professional schools, and helped fund the collection of preliminary data for a grant proposal."

Betsy Hutchison
Associate Professor of Biology
Research Incentive Grant Award Recipient

In the Words of a Scholarship Recipient

Francheska Colon

"This scholarship allowed me to see myself for who I am, a hard-working, first-generation college student. It symbolizes what I wish to become in the future, a loving educator. I aim to change the lives of my students with the work of literature and this scholarship is a reminder that I am achieving my goal little by little. Thank you for allowing me to continue my education and for believing in me."

Francheska Colon '23
English Adolescent Education
Recipient of the Anne Marie Parks 1989 Memorial Annual Scholarship

Alumni Engagement

In 2019, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) introduced an alumni engagement score to help alumni relations professionals measure success. The score measures unique engagement across four different modes: experiential, volunteer, philanthropic and communication. Participation in these categories is added and then divided by the contactable alumni population to calculate the alumni engagement score. Geneseo’s engagement score was 8.6% this past year.


donors, including 3,645 alumni, made gifts to create opportunities at Geneseo this year.

Alumni Career Advisor Network

The Offices of Alumni Relations and Career Development Services partnered to create the Alumni Career Advisor Network, an online mentoring platform that connects students with alumni to explore potential careers, job search advice, and networking opportunities. The platform was launched in spring 2020 to help the outgoing graduating class during a difficult job market.

By fall 2020, the entire student body was invited to register and take advantage of this invaluable tool. Thank you to the nearly 900 (to date) alumni who have registered in the platform to become an advisor.

What alumni and students say about the Alumni Career Advisor Network

"So helpful! Megan was the most prepared person I’ve done an informational interview with so far! Had a lot of my concerns pre-answered and had other resources to send me."

—Erik (student advisee)

"Sarah was incredibly personable, helpful and encouraging! She answered all of my questions and concerns with enthusiasm and reassurance and offered very helpful advice and resources for furthering my career pursuits. Thank you so much, Sarah!"

—Ashley (student advisee)

"Very professional, came well prepared with questions, good listening, and open to feedback. Seems very diligent in the amount of effort already put into her career search prior to graduation."

—Julie (alum career advisor)

"Hailey has a clear sense of what her strengths and interests are. She was articulate, friendly and well-prepared for our conversation."

—Terra (alum career advisor)

Alumni Book Club

A virtual community brings together fellow alumni and friends through reading in this free and private forum. Participants can network and discuss current book selections—you only need a copy of the book! Visit the Alumni Book Club online.

Dan Karches

Dan Karches ’96, head of marketing, small business empowerment at Amazon, presented at a SUNY Geneseo Alumni Achieve Series event in January 2020.

Alumni Learning Consortium

The Alumni Learning Consortium provides free access to online learning programs. Participate in live virtual events or watch previously recorded webinars to expand your personal and professional knowledge. Alumni receive access to a library of events presented by experts in their fields.

New Alumni Affinity Chapters

Alumni and students can connect in three new alumni affinity chapters built upon shared interests and experiences. Join and learn more about these groups to connect with fellow alumni and students in uplifting our community.

Joseph Carr

Joseph Carr received an honorary doctor of science at Geneseo’s 2019 commencement ceremony.


Zeta Phi Beta 40th Anniversary (photo by Dominic Florio).

Nick Warner

Nick Warner ‘00 presented at the Strasenburgh Planetarium in Rochester for a SUNY Geneseo Alumni Achieve Series event.

Donor Recognition

Annual President’s Gala

The 38th Annual President’s Gala was held on October 18, 2019, to recognize Geneseo supporters and present two awards for exceptional contributions. Many of our students would never have achieved success without the philanthropic support from those who thoughtfully choose to make the Geneseo experience possible for students.

SUNY Geneseo Alumni Association (SGAA) Distinguished Service Award

The SGAA presented its 2019 Distinguished Service Award to Frank L. Vafier ’74 in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the SGAA and the life of the College.

As long-standing champions of Geneseo and its students, Vafier and his spouse, Joan, have provided ongoing support, including the Frank L. Vafier ’74 Endowed Fund for Leadership Ambassadorship and the Joseph Czop ’75 Memorial Endowed Scholarship. In addition, Vafier served as a Geneseo Foundation board member from 2008 to 2014 and chaired Geneseo’s successful Shaping Lives of Purpose capital campaign.

Photo: Nicole Callahan ’21 presents her ambassadorship benefactor, Frank Vafier ’74, with the Distinguished Service Award at the 2019 President’s Gala.

Nicole Callahan Frank Vafier

The Geneseo Foundation Philanthropic Leadership Award

The Geneseo Foundation’s Philanthropic Leadership Award was presented to Larry Scoville, a native of Geneseo who attended the College from 1959 to 1962. The award recognizes individuals who have made an extraordinary impact on SUNY Geneseo students through their commitment and generosity.

Scoville has given back to the College for many years, including through the Larry Scoville Endowed Scholarship. Geneseo students have also benefited from the numerous apartments and other student housing units Scoville owns through a business now managed by his son, Mark. He and his spouse, Kristen, also support the College through the Mark Scoville Endowed Scholarship for incoming students.

Photo: Nogah Pescini ’22 presents her scholarship benefactor, Larry Scoville, with the Philanthropic Leadership Award at the 2019 President’s Gala.

Nogah Pescini Larry Scoville

The 1871 Leadership Society1871 Leadership Society logo

The 1871 Leadership Society recognizes supporters whose financial contributions demonstrate an exceptional level of commitment to the College with gifts of $1,000 or more each year.

Members earn a significant place in Geneseo’s history for their dedication and belief in our future and play a critical role in ensuring the college will have a reliable, steady stream of income for years to come.

The success we achieve as a college is directly connected to the support, love, and care that donors provide to our students and faculty.

Thank you very much to our 1871 Leadership Society members!

The MacVittie Legacy Society

The MacVittie Legacy Society was created to recognize those who understand the important legacy that planned giving creates for Geneseo. Named for Dr. Robert W. MacVittie, who served as Geneseo’s president from 1963-1979, MacVittie’s leadership and vision provided a cornerstone for the College. In a similar way, the MacVittie Legacy Society provides a financial cornerstone that enables future generations to enrich their lives through a Geneseo education.

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.