GENESEO – A couple of graduates from SUNY Geneseo gave a $500,000 gift to the College ‘in support of several initiatives within the college’s strategic plan that enhance the quality of the educational experience students receive at Geneseo.’
According to a press release from SUNY Geneseo, the gift from Kevin Gavagan (1975) and Nancy Gavagan (1976) will provide endowments for three areas of the college: a $100,000 scholarship fund for incoming School of Business students; $50,000 endowments each for men’s basketball, women’s basketball and ice hockey in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation; and a $250,000 fund for program support in Geneseo’s Department of Career Development.
“I am thrilled to announce this major gift from two alumni who are Geneseo champions through and through,” said SUNY Geneseo President Denise Battles. “With more than two decades of involvement on the Geneseo Foundation Board, Kevin is a model for philanthropic leadership, and Nancy has been equally supportive through her pivotal involvement with numerous alumni events and other activities. I can’t thank them enough for adding this magnificent gift to their previous generous support. These funds will advance our strategic plan considerably and positively impact Geneseo students for years to come.”
Kevin recently completed 21 years on the Geneseo Foundation Board, having served many years as board treasurer and as chair during his final term. He was subsequently named Emeritus Board Chair and was honored with the dedication of the Gavagan Conference Room in Doty Hall, the college’s main administration building.
“It’s not really that hard of a decision to support Geneseo,” said Kevin. “The students are well-rounded, bright and hard-working, and we alumni have an obligation to give back and keep that winning program strong.”
Nancy received her degree in psychology from Geneseo and was active in the Alpha Kappa Phi (Ago) sorority. She has been involved with numerous regional alumni events over the years for the college. Nancy also is involved with the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, where she has served as a dedicated docent since 2003. Kevin was recently appointed chair of museum’s Board of Trustees.
The Gavagans have a sustained history of philanthropic support for Geneseo, including an outstanding commitment to annual giving. They also established the Kevin ’75 and Nancy (Mogab) ’76 Gavagan Endowed Faculty Incentive Award and the Kevin P. Gavagan Endowed Fund for Faculty Development. They also are among the individuals who have funded a New Horizons Scholarship, which provides talented students the opportunity to earn a Geneseo education. Kevin also launched the Joseph Czop Memorial Endowed Scholarship in honor of a classmate he met as a freshman at Geneseo.
Career development has always been a passion for the Gavagans, and their endowment for the college’s Department of Career Development will enhance applied learning opportunities, including internships. It also will help integrate career development, academic advising and alumni engagement. Among new programs in the department is a Career Lab, designed to help students with resume and cover letters and to learn more about the use of LinkedIn in career development.
Kevin’s close association with the business school and his favorable impression of successes within the school prompted the establishment of the endowed scholarship fund for incoming business students. Among the business school’s accomplishments are the opening of a Trading Room, an applied learning facility giving business students real-time trading experience through state-of-the-art technology; the numerous honors economics students have earned in the Fed Challenge; the recent extension of its business accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); and the highly successful placement of alumni with top employers throughout New York and across the globe
Kevin is a past chair of the School of Business’s Business Advisory Council, comprising business leaders who provide business expertise, advice and resources to the school’s students, faculty and staff.
“Access to excellence is an important focus area of our strategic plan, and this endowment for increased scholarship funding will help attract and retain talented students interested in a business career,” said K. Johnson Bowles, Geneseo’s vice president for college advancement and executive director of the Geneseo Foundation. “We want to make sure bright students have no barriers in the pursuit of realizing their own capacity for success. Helping students reach their potential is what Geneseo does best,” Bowles added.
Bowles noted that Geneseo has been ranked first for undergraduate teaching among regional universities in the north in seven of the eight years that U.S. News & World Report has included that category in its rankings.
Kevin’s connection to the athletic department goes back to his time as student manager for the men’s basketball team. He made lifelong friends with many of the team members and they still frequently gather for visits. He also has known men’s hockey coach Chris Schultz for many years and has followed the success of the Ice Knights. He is a member of Geneseo’s Roundtable Athletic Association, an organization that supports Geneseo student-athletes through engaging alumni, parents, local community members and other friends.
The endowments for the hockey and women’s basketball teams are rooted in the Gavagans’ admiration for how the teams handled the tragic loss of two of their team members two years ago.
“Both the players and coaches brought their programs to amazing levels of accomplishment and responded magnificently during a very difficult time,” said Kevin. “That type of resilience, leadership and strength in adversity deserved recognition and support. So this portion of the gift is not only in remembrance of the students but also in how the team and college handled the loss.”
Kevin recounted an experience with a student-athlete three years ago that made a lasting impression and reminded him of the importance of giving back. Men’s basketball coach Steve Minton had asked Kevin to call prospective student Connor Fedge in 2010 about what a Geneseo education could offer. Kevin considered it a routine discussion, but Fedge enrolled at Geneseo, excelled academically and became among the top 10 all-time men’s basketball scoring leaders.
At the President’s 2014 Donor Recognition Dinner, Fedge presented the Philanthropic Leadership Award to Kevin and Nancy and gave credit to Kevin for his success.
“Mr. Gavagan passionately discussed all that the Geneseo community had to offer,” Fedge told the audience. “The phone call may have seemed like a minor task for him, but it ultimately inspired my decision and the best four years of my life, and for that, I thank him greatly.”
The Gavagans hope that more alumni will support endowments, such as the ones they have established in athletics.
“If enough people chime in, they can make a real difference in getting important discretionary items funded to support our athletes,” said Kevin.
Kevin says he is looking forward to the upcoming hockey and basketball seasons and plans on attending as many of the games as possible.
“Being on campus always brings back wonderful memories of being at the college,” said Kevin. “We alumni always reflect on our time with pride and nostalgia. It’s a very motivating force for giving.”
The Gavagans reside in Pittsford. They have two daughters and three young grandchildren.