COVID-19 Safety Information

Join the Cortland Challenge on June 17

Join the Cortland Challenge on June 17


The mission of the annual Cortland Challenge has always been simple. It’s about alumni, faculty, staff and friends coming together to make a difference for SUNY Cortland and its students.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically affecting our lives, the Cortland Challenge remains committed to that goal.

On Wednesday, June 17, donors may visit to give directly to the campus cause of their choice. Two options SUNY Cortland would like to highlight this year are The Cortland Fund for Equity and Inclusion and the Student Emergency Fund, which supports students facing unexpected hardships.

Current events have shed light on the racial injustices that continue to occur in our country, and we have a responsibility as a campus community to address them. We have heard our students’ voices and learned how they have been directly impacted. We stand with them. As a university, we stand against racism and hatred in our society. In doing so, we must proactively work to provide an inclusive and supportive environment for our students, faculty and staff, as well as the greater Cortland community. We ask that you join us in our efforts to raise financial support for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and programs. Some examples could include professional development for faculty, staff and students on diversity, equity and inclusion; funding for visiting speakers to campus; and supporting the annual diversity conference hosted by the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office. If you are able, please consider a gift to The Cortland Fund for Equity and Inclusion.

Additionally, the Student Emergency Fund offers financial assistance to students facing needs in child care, food, medical or dental expenses, technology, transportation and more. For many current SUNY Cortland students, aid from the Student Emergency Fund helped them navigate a difficult transition to distance learning this past semester.

Several generous alumni have pledged matching gifts to support the Student Emergency Fund through the Cortland Challenge. Match donors include Mike Leeolou ’81, Anthony Moon ’86 and Susan Moon, Patrick Mullaney ’89, Victor Rumore ’84 and Jeanne Specchio ’82. Together, they have committed $55,000 toward the Student Emergency Fund.

Those funds will be unlocked at individual donor intervals that pay tribute to our alumni, faculty and students:

  • 240 donors will add $25,000 to the Student Emergency Fund in honor of the number of hours between Kristie Houlihan ’18 receiving her nursing degree and beginning work at a COVID-19 testing site in New Jersey.
  • 590 donors will unlock $15,000 for the Student Emergency Fund to represent the number of SUNY Cortland faculty members who swiftly achieved their goal to shift their course work online.
  • 1,411 donors, equal to the number of candidates for graduation in May 2020, will add an additional $15,000 to the Student Emergency Fund.

Jason Barrett ’08, president and master distiller of Black Button Distilling in Rochester, N.Y., has made a challenge for the Class of 2008. If his former classmates collectively raise $2,008 or more, he will match their generosity with a gift of $2,008 toward the Student Emergency Fund.

A general athletics challenge also will be part of this year’s Cortland Challenge, thanks to $10,000 of support from Gerry Proehl ’81 and Pam Proehl ’82.

If 297 donors give to any of the athletics program funds, including general athletics and the C-Club endowment, $700 will be awarded to the general athletics fund. A total of 297 winter and spring student-athletes had their seasons cut short by COVID-19.

SUNY Cortland’s 23 athletic teams will be divided into four categories based on the number of alumni: small, medium, large and extra-large. An award of $1,000 will be given to the team that receives the most donors in each category and $100 will be bestowed on each team that reaches its category’s donor mark.

The team that raises the most money will receive $2,000 and a trophy. Teams that meet their category’s donor mark will be eligible for a $1,000 prize that goes to the team with the highest average gift.

With your help, we can continue to support SUNY Cortland students during this time of great need.

To learn more, visit Use the hashtag #CortlandChallenge to follow along with other Red Dragons on challenge day.