Society of Emmeline

The Society of Emmeline recognizes women who support SUNY Geneseo’s long-term success through a lifetime of giving that exceeds $50,000.


Emmeline Austin of Boston married William Wolcott Wadsworth in 1846. They became the parents of three sons: William Austin, Livingston, and Herbert. William Wolcott died suddenly in 1852, leaving Emmeline to raise their children on her own. As the boys grew up, the family split their time between the Homestead in Geneseo and Emmeline’s childhood home of Boston. In 1872, Emmeline resumed full-time residence at the Homestead with her son, William Austin. Her family honored and memorialized her by gifting the bronze bear fountain to the Village of Geneseo in 1888.

The bronze bear sits atop a sandstone pedestal in the fountain’s center. Originally, it was a place where travelers stopped to water their horses. It has since become a beloved village icon, a beacon to returning students and alums.

Photograph of Emmeline Bear Fountain in the Village of Geneseo, NY

SUNY Geneseo opened its doors in 1871 as the Wadsworth Normal and Training School, reflecting its primary focus on teacher training. In the early 1900s, the curriculum required two years of professional study for aspiring teachers, most of whom were women. By 1942, basic teacher training programs included the preparation of teacher-librarians, teachers of children with special needs, and speech pathologists.

In 1948, the Wadsworth Normal and Training School became a part of the State University of New York College at Geneseo. The teachers colleges within SUNY became Colleges of Arts and Sciences in 1962, and two years later, Geneseo introduced four-year degree programs in arts and sciences. In 1983, seventy-one percent of the incoming class was women, and they expanded their studies to include biochemistry and computer science.

Stemming from Emmeline to the current day, SUNY Geneseo has a long history of pioneering women leaders who served in professional and academic positions. We recall Julia Delehanty, the College’s first physician; Marilyn Moore, the first female athletic director; and Carol Harter, the first female president of Geneseo. Distinguished alumnae have reached the highest echelons of politics, education, publications, entertainment, sports, and corporate leadership.

Today, Denise A. Battles serves as the College’s second female president, supported by a cabinet that is nearly 80% women. By establishing the Society of Emmeline, we recognize women's historic role in our College and celebrate women’s philanthropy in defining our future.

Society Benefits:
- Honorific photo of the society's namesake, the Emmeline Fountain
- Invitations to future campus events
- Special communications from the College