According to a press release, the announcement was made at a celebration for Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl, who will retire in June after 18 years of service. Inspired by Dahl’s positive impact on the college, 1964 Geneseo alumnus Greg O’Connell presented a $1 million gift to the campaign. O’Connell, now a successful real estate developer, explained that he wanted to give something back to the school that played such a significant role in building his life.
About 20 percent of Geneseo’s alumni contributed to the fundraiser campaign, the most generous donations coming from Charles “Bud” VanArsdale at $2.5 million, along with Edward Pettinella, a 1973 alumnus, at $1 million. The other 7,100 donors included foundations, friends of the college, parents, students and faculty.
“I can think of no better way to honor the distinguished educational legacy President Dahl is giving us than to announce that we have surpassed our campaign goal, and we are enormously grateful to Greg for the wonderful exclamation point he has placed on our success,” said Frank Vafier, a 1974 Geneseo graduate and chair of the campaign. “I sincerely thank Chris for his 18 years of presidential leadership and commend everyone responsible for guiding and supporting the campaign – alumni, faculty, friends, parents and students. This is a tremendous day for SUNY Geneseo, and we enthusiastically celebrate the moment as we look to the future and our next campaign with great optimism.”
President Dahl marked the campaign’s success as “a turning point” for the college. He thanked Vafier for his relentless efforts in moving the campaign forward, especially in the face of waning support from the state.
“Frank’s dynamism and love for Geneseo have served him well in bringing this campaign home,” said Dahl. “I am deeply grateful for his enthusiasm, strategic sense and unwavering persistence in seeking support from all members of our extended family. I send my sincere thanks to everyone who planned this splendid effort and guided it to its successful conclusion. Reaching the goal is a great highlight of my years at Geneseo. It’s deeply satisfying to me that the college and its supporters have focused so keenly on our students’ success and the needs of the world-class faculty who teach them.”
Jack Kramer, chair of the Geneseo Foundation Board of Directors and a 1976 alumnus, also made a point to thank the members of the college’s 18 regional alumni committees, who kept the campaign running smoothly as it moved across the country.
“The generosity and hard work of our regional committees played a pivotal role,” said Kramer. “They deserve high praise. Their commitment has paid off and will help ensure the college’s continued excellence for future generations of students. I hope the success of this campaign will encourage all Geneseo alumni to engage with their alma mater and become a part of enhancing the educational experience for our students and faculty.”
The collected campaign funds will support several up and coming projects such as scholarship programs, athletics, and student research projects including the Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Development. Funds will also be allocated towards high-impact learning experiences, interdisciplinary coursework, and new library resources.