Bulletin News

Michael Holland Fund added to The Cortland Challenge


This year’s Cortland Challenge on Wednesday, April 17, will do more than raise money for critical university programs like the Student Emergency Fund.

It will strengthen the legacy of the late Michael C. Holland, a popular Student Affairs administrator who died from a heart attack while traveling with student volunteers who assisted with flood cleanup in the Binghamton area in 2011.

A memorial fund for Holland created to help students in need will become part of the university’s larger Student Emergency Fund, where it can be most effectively used.

But it won’t simply be rolled over. The $6,330 fund will serve as a large matching gift for donations made during the 24-hour Challenge in support of the Cortland College Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund administered by Student Affairs.

It amounts to a gift to Cortland students from the Michael C. Holland Emergency Fund for Students Committee, a group of people dedicated to Holland’s memory and to giving rapid assistance to students in crisis.

Holland, the executive assistant to the vice president for student affairs, passed away in October 2011 while returning from a volunteer trip with members of the SUNY Cortland Emergency Medical Services to aid flood recovery in the Southern Tier. Holland, who had a long history of service on campus and in surrounding communities, previously was the university’s longtime director of residence life and housing.


“Funds were raised through private donations in Mike’s memory,” said committee member Nan Pasquarello, director of Career Services. “Additionally, over the years proceeds from campus events including Body Appreciation Week “wear jeans” days and (pre-pandemic) Student Affairs Midnight Breakfasts generously kept the fund going.”

The Michael C. Holland fund for nearly 10 years has assisted critical basic needs for student living expenses, including food, medical, transportation, temporary housing, utilities or clothing. Cutting through administrative delays, the committee often accepted student referrals by an associate dean or staff at the Conley Counseling and Wellness Services. Established in a partnership with the Interfaith Association and through the hard work of volunteers, the fund has fulfilled student emergency needs of up to $150 per student, for a total of $3,500 spent to date.

“At the time the (Holland) fund was first created, the Cortland College Foundation did not have a fund or mechanism to quickly help students in emergencies, so the Michael C. Holland Fund served a really important purpose,” Pasquarello said. “It was only once the pandemic hit that foundations across SUNY were able to create emergency funds.”

In spring 2020 during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, generous alumni made donations to SUNY Cortland to assist students with emergency financial need, and the Cortland College Foundation then created a campus Student Emergency Fund that is now administered through Student Affairs.

Like the Holland Fund, the Student Emergency Fund also focuses on unplanned financial emergencies and is not used to offset tuition, college fees, books, credit card debt or legal representation. By late 2020, Cortland’s foundation had raised $346,669 in gifts and institutional support and quickly distributed $230,638 of that funding to students in 701 grants of $500 per student per academic year. The fund continues to serve students in need.

The Michael C. Holland Fund’s committee members decided last fall they would dissolve the fund held privately with the Interfaith Association and consolidate the money through a donation in early 2024 with the newer and larger fund administered by Student Affairs.

The administration of the fund is by a campus employee rather than being run by volunteers, Pasquarello said. Moreover, the campus fund provides more financial assistance — up to $2,000 while a student is at Cortland — and has made a commitment to providing rapid responses to emergency requests. Additionally, this fund has the advantage of a steady donation revenue stream.

“Now that this is established, it makes sense to have the Michael C. Holland Emergency Fund for Students be the ‘matching donor’ to grow the Cortland College Foundation’s campus fund,” Pasquarello said.

“The committee decided to donate the full amount of the account to the Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund in memory of Mike Holland, thus dissolving the Michael C. Holland Emergency Fund, while keeping its spirit alive.”

Current committee members, in addition to Pasquarello, include Susan Wilson, associate professor and chair of Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies, Jerry O’Callaghan, associate professor of political science, and Billie Jean Goff, associate director of Counseling and Student Development emeritus. Cathy Smith, health educator emeritus, as well as former Interfaith Center chaplains Vicki Burtson, Rachel Mae-Rose and Laurel Harte- Westover, also served on the committee.

Pasquarello noted that, as a testament to his lasting influence, the Student Government Association created a scholarship, the Michael C. Holland Memorial Scholarship. Also, an award for new professionals presented through SUNY Residence Life and Housing Administrators (SUNYRLHA) Award also bears his name.

“The monies collected over the years through the Interfaith Association — held fund in Mike’s name — are being consolidated now that the foundation has a fund with even greater reach,” Pasquarello said. “We think we’ll be able to give a whole lot more money to students in need and can do it as fast.”

The Student Emergency Fund is managed through Student Affairs’ Care and Outreach Services. For more information, visit the website or contact Emily Quinlan, assistant director of Care and Outreach Services.

Learn more about how you can support the Student Emergency Fund, and have your gift matched in honor of Michael C. Holland, during the Cortland Challenge on April 17.