A Strategic Priority
SUNY Oneonta’s endowment has long been a point of pride. Standing at over $51 million, it is the largest among comprehensive, state-operated campuses.
While that’s an achievement in and of itself, I would like to shine a light on how we use charitable gifts because that sets us apart, too. To sum it up, philanthropy has become important to our daily operations and now contributes to the fulfillment of strategic priorities.
Scholarships put college education within reach of many students who otherwise would be unable to attend SUNY Oneonta. This year, College at Oneonta Foundation scholarships will provide $2 million in scholarships to more than 1,000 students. We are able to give awards to one in six students, many of whom are from middle-class and working-class families who deserve our support, because our philanthropic community is so generous.
In fact, during the last fiscal year alone, alumni and friends’ charitable giving led SUNY Oneonta to establish 16 new scholarships and funds supporting our students. Outright giving and estate planning also endowed several new scholarships this summer and fall.
Each October the College at Oneonta Foundation hosts a dinner where scholarship recipients meet the donors who have funded their awards. The event is a chance to reflect on students’ successes and express the college’s gratitude for such tremendous external support.
Attendees of the 2015 dinner were treated to a message from Rafael Olan, ’18, who has received several Foundation scholarships. He spoke of coming from a small, rural community where in his words, “the majority of residents are barely making ends meet.” Rafael told the audience that the financial support he receives here has motivated him to become the first the first male in his family to graduate from high school and college.
The majority of the college’s endowment is dedicated to scholarships like those Rafael receives. Philanthropy plays a central role in recruiting and retaining top students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. But it also factors into countless initiatives that go beyond increasing access. The Foundation raises and administers charitable gifts and grants for faculty development, global connectedness, and student research among other programs.
A rich experience full of opportunities that complement classroom learning and the lowest possible debt at graduation is a winning combination for students and their families. And charitable giving helps makes it possible.