College Launches $25 Million Campaign

College Launches $25 Million Campaign


SUNY Cortland officially launched the public phase of an ambitious capital campaign to raise $25 million to support its strategic vision for continued leadership in academic excellence, transformational education and the promotion of individual and community well-being.

“Educating Champions, the Campaign for Cortland” was announced at a leadership dinner at Ledyard Farms, a site generously provided by SUNY Cortland Distinguished Alumnus William Haines '63, in King Ferry, N.Y., near Cayuga Lake on Saturday, Sept. 24. About 235 alumni, friends and other supporters of the College learned that about $20 million had already been raised during the three-year “silent phase” of the campaign.

“This is a reasonable and attainable goal that will allow us to do amazing things,” said Raymond D. Franco '72, vice president for institutional advancement. “We know who we are, we know where we’re going, and we have the support of dedicated alumni, friends, faculty and staff who understand just how special and unique the SUNY Cortland experience is.”

Franco and other SUNY Cortland staff unveiled a new website dedicated to the campaign. The campaign, the second in the College’s 143-year history, will help SUNY Cortland implement a strategic plan based on four institutional priorities. By focusing on these priorities, the College will enrich the educational experience of all SUNY Cortland students and help them develop the knowledge, skill and character needed to become champions in their respective fields and communities.

SUNY Cortland’s institutional priorities are: Cultivating academic excellence; providing transformational learning experiences; promoting physical, emotional and community well being; and maximizing College resources to create a foundation for sustainable operation and growth.

“This comprehensive campaign is all about one audience - our students,” SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “We want to offer our undergraduates and graduate students the most outstanding faculty, staff, facilities, equipment, laboratories and all the auxiliary functions one would expect to find at a world-class educational institution.”

SUNY Cortland has always been a welcoming place for bright and dedicated students, regardless of their economic situation or social background, President Bitterbaum said. The College is determined to remain an institution of opportunity accessible to all students, despite rising education costs, shrinking government support and an economy that continues to be a struggle for many families.

To that end, the largest single share of the funds raised through the campaign — at least $10 million — will be used to support scholarships. These scholarships are intended to help first-generation college students, young people with financial need and high achievers who have earned an opportunity for a SUNY Cortland education.

The academic caliber of SUNY Cortland students continues to rise annually. This year, the new students who were accepted out of a record number of applicants scored an average of 1,110 on the SAT and achieved an average grade of 90.3 in high school. The capital campaign will direct significant funds toward programs that enrich and develop academic excellence. One of those initiatives, the creation of SUNY Cortland’s very first endowed chair, was formally announced at Saturday’s dinner.

Louise M. Conley, Ph.D., a member of the Cortland College Foundation Board of Directors, spoke about the importance of giving to public universities and her family's ties to the College. Conley’s grandfather, Francis J. Cheney, was the second principal of Cortland Normal School, which eventually became SUNY Cortland. Conley is one of four donors who has pledged at least $1 million to the College. The others include John Fantauzzi '58, Michael J. O'Reilly '58 and Lynne Parks Hoffman '68. 

The campaign recognizes that a Cortland education is not limited to the classroom. Nine out of 10 SUNY Cortland students are involved in internships, undergraduate research, community volunteerism, or some other off-campus learning experience that has the potential to change their outlook and transform their life. The campaign, for example, will support the Raquette Lake Endowment and Program Fund, the Undergraduate Research Program Fund, the Institute for Civic Engagement Fund and many others.

Funds raised through the campaign also will support programs that encourage physical, emotional, cultural and social well being. This includes athletics, the performing arts, student life initiatives and much more. It also includes program support for the school’s new $56 million student life center, which is expected to break ground next year. The center will offer a rich array of recreational, social and athletic experiences and is intended to become the new focal point of campus life. It also will help create a new business incubator on campus and in the community.

“Green” initiatives and programs and improvements designed to make the campus more environmentally and economically stable also will be part of the campaign.  By doing its utmost to maximize its resources, Cortland administrators can assure potential donors that they are making every effort to use the College’s resources efficiently and have as great an impact on students as possible.

The campaign will run until June 30, 2013.