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SUCO awards $1M in scholarships

From The Daily Star, August, 28, 2005

By Denise Richardson
Staff Writer


ONEONTA — The State University College at Oneonta has awarded $1 million in scholarships to students this academic year.

That means about 675 students are receiving scholarships to help them reach academic goals, said Paul J. Adamo, vice president for college advancement. The awards range from $500 to full-tuition scholarships at $4,350, he said.

"We’ve reached $1 million in scholarship awards for the first time in the history of the college," Adamo said. "We’re very excited."

The scholarships are made with money given to the College Foundation and the Alumni Association, he said, and the money includes private gifts from alumni, friends of the college, parents, foundations and corporations.

The $1,000,875 awarded this year is an 86.7 percent increase from $536,000 in awards five years ago, Adamo said.

"We write real checks and transfer real dollars to the college," Adamo said. The college estimates 675 students will receive the awards, up from 444 students in 2000-01, he said.

The scholarship total is directly related to the size of the endowment, which has grown to $25 million this year from $18.1 million in 2000-01, Adamo said. About 75 percent of the scholarship money is from the endowment and 25 percent is from contributions specified to be scholarships, he said.

Kenneth Kellerhouse, president of the College at Oneonta Foundation board, said the board decides on policies for raising and investing money and reaching a $1 million in scholarships was "quite a feat."

"It’s great," said Kellerhouse, who earned a bachelor’s degree from SUCO in 1957 when there was no tuition. The more money the foundation can raise, the more scholarships can be awarded, he said.

"I really believe in SUCO and the education it gives students, and so did my wife," said Kellerhouse, who also earned a master’s degree from SUCO and retired as a professor of education from the college in 1990. He started a scholarship endowment in memory of his wife, Muriel Kellerhouse, a theater professor who taught at SUCO for 30 years, and that is at $10,000, he said.

In 1995-96, SUCO awarded 60 scholarships totaling $137,266, according to information from the SUCO Office of Advancement.

Criteria for scholarships include academic achievement, financial need, major course of study and geographical regions, Adamo said. Students may receive more than one scholarship, he said, and decisions on awards are made by the SUCO offices of admissions and financial aid.

The college has 144 scholarships named after a person, a class, a professor, organization or other entity, Adamo said, and most awards are renewable. Scholarships are awarded for tuition and expenses, such as textbooks and room and board.

SUCO’s alumni participation rate for giving is 17.4 percent, compared to the national rate of 7 percent for similar public colleges, according to this summer’s issue of Reflections, SUCO’s alumni magazine. The foundation board changed its policy this year and raised the gift amount to $25,000 from $20,000 to endow a scholarship.

Husband and wife Robert Striffler and Sheila Sheridan Striffler, 1972 graduates, are chairman and chairwoman for the campaign, titled "Changing Lives Since 1889." The campaign started July 1, 2002, and will end June 30, 2007, Adamo said.

Sheridan Striffler said she and her husband were "financially challenged" when they attended SUCO and endowed a scholarship for students who need aid. The recipients have included older students attending college later in life, she said, and each recipient has written a thank-you note.

"My husband and I had a terrific experience" at SUCO, Sheridan Striffler said. "It means a lot to us that we can give back."

She said reaching the $1 million mark in scholarships being awarded this year was a thrill. But the achievement wasn’t a surprise, considering the hard work done by fund-raising volunteers and SUCO advancement office staff to help students, she said.

"Education means everything," she said.

The college is in the third year of a campaign to raise $10 million, Adamo said. More than $7 million already has been raised, he said, and expectations are to exceed the goal.

"We’re not standing still," he said. "We want it to be ever more because our students deserve our support and students and their families need our support."