Bulletin News

Cortland Challenge 2024 is April 17


Mark your calendars. SUNY Cortland’s annual, 24-hour fundraising event is being held on Wednesday, April 17, and there’s more at stake than ever.

This year, donors can help unlock potentially more than $130,000 in matching gifts — $30,000 more than last year — thanks to pledges made by numerous generous alumni, faculty and staff, and friends!

On Challenge Day, students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends can give to the Cortland Challenge cause of their choice at RedDragonNetwork.org/challenge. These causes include The Cortland Fund, athletic teams, campus programming and more. The challenge competition for academic departments is back for a third year, only with an added incentive provided by personal contributions from members of the President’s Cabinet.

Students celebrate graduation at the May 2023 Commencement.

“This has been a thrilling year for Red Dragons everywhere to show their pride in SUNY Cortland,” SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “The Cortland Challenge offers yet another opportunity for our community to come together and support a common goal: to open doors for our current and future students. No gift is too small to help in this effort.

Many generous supporters have pledged matching gifts to support the Cortland Challenge, including Norma Schlager ’62, Victor Rumore ’84, Anthony Moon ’86 and Susan Moon, Joel Tiss ’85, Gerald Brown, Michael C. Holland Emergency Fund for Students Committee, Girish Bhat and Sharon Steadman and Cheryl Barredo M ’81. You can learn more about our generous Cortland Challenge donors online. Thanks to them, a total of $55,000 in matching gifts for SUNY Cortland will be unlocked throughout the day as certain donor milestones are met:

  • $5,000 unlocked at 607 donors to celebrate the community where our university is located.
  • $10,000 unlocked at 1,000 donors in honor of the approximately 1,000 donor-funded scholarships that are awarded each academic year, an exciting jump from 900 last year.
  • $10,000 unlocked at 1,637 donors in honor of the number of graduate and undergraduate students who became SUNY Cortland alumni in 2023.
  • $10,000 unlocked at 2,242 donors in recognition of the number of undergraduate and graduate courses offered to SUNY Cortland students.
  • $20,000 unlocked at 3,362 donors, which would be a record-setting number of donors for the Cortland Challenge.

The Athletics Challenge will return, backed by a generous, $10,000 matching gift offered by Charles Bocklet ’58. The 20 teams will be broken into four categories: small, medium, large and extra-large based on the number of alumni and previous donor participation. Each team will compete to earn more than $2,000 in awards by unlocking various fundraising achievements, including most donors, most dollars and highest average Cortland Fund gift. Thomas Christiano ’85 and David Colagiovanni ’11 have each offered a special giving incentive to the teams they played for during their time in Cortland, men’s ice hockey and wrestling, respectively.

The Department Challenge this year will add a new, friendly competitive aspect among more than 40 departments seeking to raise money for their specific needs. Academic and campus areas will compete for the most donors and the $2,000 first prize, and second- and third- place prizes of $1,000 and $500 respectively. Each participating group can also win a $100 award if 20 unique donors contribute to their initiative during the Cortland Challenge. The $12,000 in available matching gifts were generously contributed by members of the President’s Cabinet: Erik Bitterbaum, Richard Coyne ’07, Lorraine Lopez-Janove, Ann McClellan, C. Gregory Sharer, April Thompson and Mark Yacavone ’94.

As in past years, many departments are working with sponsors of gifts, ranging this year from $500 to $10,000, in money generously offered to match whatever other donors can contribute on Cortland Challenge Day. These additional pledges have been offered by Cary Carbonaro ’90, Ernie Logan ’73, Robert Bookman ’76 Esq., Virginia Carter ’74, Michael Bond ’75, M.D., William Baerthlein ’76, M.D., Louise M. Conley, Sheri Baron ’77, Barb Galpin ’68, Marcia Anderson ’73, Frank Rossi, David Kronman ’80 and Sandra Kronman, an anonymous ’03 grad and two anonymous ’88 grads.

SUNY Cortland will also match up to $5,500 in dollar-for-dollar contributions to The Cortland Fund, a discretionary fund dedicated to the university’s greatest and most immediate areas of need that have an impact on the entire campus community. This challenge was bestowed on the university by friend of the university Gerald Brown.

Cortland students experience the 2023 Commencement.

This year, the Michael C. Holland Emergency Fund for Students Committee has pledged matching gift funding of roughly $6,330 to benefit the Cortland College Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund administered by Student Affairs. The committee’s one-time gift redirects a private fund created in memory of Michael C. Holland, a popular Student Affairs administrator who died in 2011, and run by a combination of university and Interfaith Association staff members.

Leading up to the big day, the entire campus community is encouraged to:

  • Take part in the challenge by making their own gift, in addition to any they already made this year.
  • Encourage others in the campus and alumni community to also give to the Cortland Challenge
  • Spread the word on social media accounts. A good way to do this is by sending your own transformational Cortland story via the #CortlandChallenge hashtag.

To make a gift, learn more or track the Cortland Challenge’s progress, visit RedDragonNetwork.org/challenge.

And don’t forget, on Challenge Day, use the hashtag #CortlandChallenge to follow along with other Red Dragons through Facebook, Instagramand X (formerly Twitter).