Lynne Parks â€™68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House
The Trustee Program
In 2006 the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association Board of Directors created the Alumni House Trustee Program as an opportunity for a select group of individuals or organizations. This group would formally position the Lynne Parks â€™68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House as the most majestic and beautiful facility of its kind in SUNY and New York by raising an additional $1 million for the Alumni House Preservation Endowment Fund. The goal is to secure ten gifts of $100,000 each from individuals or organizations. Trustees are recognized for their generosity by having their portraits displayed on the Trustee Wall in the Goodale Library. A current biography of each trustee is contained in this publication.
Table of Contents
The Acquisition of the Lynne Parks â€™68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House.............................................................Page 4 Surpassing Expectations.........................................................................Page 6
The Trustees Lynne Parks Hoffman '68.......................................................................Page 10 Louise DaMassa Sessa '58......................................................................Page 14 John Fantauzzi '58..................................................................................Page 16
Become a Trustee Make a Charitable Donation..................................................................Page 23
THE ACQUISITION OF THE LYNNE PARKS â€™68 SUNY CORTLAND ALUMNI HOUSE The SUNY Cortland Alumni Association, Inc., a private not-for-profit corporation, purchased the Alumni House from Charles. A. Gibson on July 1, 2004. Mr. Gibson lived in the house from 1992-2004. He purchased the house from Jean Biddle, the granddaughter of Charles Wickwire Sr. who built the house in 1912. The Wickwire family owned and operated Wickwire Brothers, Inc. on South Main Street in Cortland, a wire drawing and blooming mill and steel plant. The Alumni Association had been searching for a property to serve as an alumni house since 1968. The acquisition of the former Wickwire Mansion achieved this long-term goal â€“ one throughout the years that seemed almost unattainable.
SURPASSING EXPECTATIONS Since taking ownership in July of 2004, the Alumni House has exceeded expectations in many ways. Now serving as the focal point for the Collegeâ€™s alumni program, the facility has hosted countless alumni and College events, housed dignitaries from around the world, served as a great venue for student programs and recognitions and more. For many, this beautiful mansion also has been a terrific setting for weddings, special family recognitions, retirement parties and anniversary celebrations.
The response from alumni, the campus community and the public has been overwhelmingly positive. Probably the greatest case for the acquisition is the fact that the Alumni House has evolved into an historic showcase, a place where the College’s history comes to life. From recognizing a favorite professor and coach to celebrating life in a sorority or fraternity, the house will forever serve as a place where SUNY Cortland history is displayed and preserved. In addition to serving as a focal point for the alumni program and more, the Alumni House has received unprecedented financial support from more than 1,000 alumni and friends of the College. Through the Opportunities to Give Program created in 2004, the goal of raising $500,000 for the preservation fund endowment has been achieved. In addition, more than $500,000 has been donated to underwrite costs for up-to-date technology, furniture, and safety and code compliance requirements. In 2008, the Alumni House was named in honor of Lynne Parks Hoffman ’68 for her generous donation of $1 million. As a result of Lynne’s magnificent gift (Cortland’s first million dollar donor) and the generous response to the Opportunities to Give Program, all debt associated with the facility was retired. This achievement was accomplished in four years. The Alumni House Trustee Program was established to increase the current Alumni House Preservation Fund Endowment $1.5 million to $2.5 million. An endowment at this level will provide enough annual income to ensure that the Alumni House is maintained and preserved.
Becoming the College’s first-ever individual $1 million donor was a labor of love for Lynne Parks Hoffman ’68.
In October 2003, Nu Sigma Chi alumnae met in Hyde Park, N.Y., where they dined in a private room at the Culinary Institute of America and toured the Franklin D. Roosevelt homestead mansion and grounds.
Her generous offer to name the SUNY Cortland Alumni House allowed Lynne the opportunity to celebrate some of the most cherished people in her life — her Nu Sigma Chi sorority sisters and her late husband Jack Hoffman — while paying tribute to her alma mater. “I am what I am today because of Cortland and Nu Sigma Chi,” said Lynne, who returned to campus from her residence in Portland, Ore., for Alumni Reunion Weekend in July, 2008. “It’s because of the values I learned at the College and the opportunity to get a good job after college.”
Lynne Parks Hoffman Class of 1968 trustee of THE LYNNE PARKS ’68 SUNY CORTLAND ALUMNI HOUSE
Lynne joined nearly 70 Nu Sigma Chi sisters at the newly named Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House for the sorority’s 80th anniversary during the 2008 reunion weekend. The College’s oldest sorority, Nu Sigma Chi had been the catalyst behind Lynne reconnecting with SUNY Cortland 15 years earlier.
“We had a great time and a fabulous turnout,” recalled Lynne. “That was the same year I learned about the new Alumni House in Columns. I’d never seen the house, but read about the opportunity to name a room. I called Kathy Emerich Compagni ’68, a very good friend from Nu Sig who lived in Cortland. That year, Sue Smith DeMichaele ’68, another close friend of mine from Nu Sig, had passed away. Kathy and I decided we would raise $10,000 to name one of the bedrooms in her honor, but they were all quickly snapped up.”
Lynne and Kathy learned at that time from Alumni Affairs Executive Director Doug DeRancy ’75 that the dining room was still available as a naming option for $25,000. “I didn’t know Doug, but I told Kathy to tell him that I will write a check today if he will hold that room,” continued Lynne. “Within two years, we had paid it off.
So, Lynne contacted the Alumni Affairs Office seeking the names and addresses of her Class of 1968 sorority sisters. She and Diane wrote personal letters and sent information packets to each of them.
“Sue Smith DeMichaele died on my birthday while I was at the Hyde Park reunion. I had just talked to her days before she passed away. Her husband, Don, has been very generous to the Nu Sigma Chi Dining Room. He donated funds as well as one of Sue’s beautiful pastels that now hangs there. She had gone on to become an accomplished artist. Kathy had it reframed to match the woodwork. We also named the room in tribute to Lorraine Lombardi Drake ’68 who died that same year.”
“We had 17 or 18 sisters come back,” said Lynne. “The next step was keeping in touch. We decided after 10 years that we would meet again for our 35th reunion.”
Lynne, moved by the outpouring of her Class of ’68 sorority sisters, envisioned an even larger role in the College’s life for Nu Sigma Chi.
“I had not been back to the College since I graduated in 1968,” explained Lynne. “The year before my 25th reunion in 1993, Diane McKinnon ’68, my college roommate all four years, and I decided we want to attend the reunion and to see our sorority sisters.”
“I told Doug, ‘If we can raise $25,000 just from our class, the potential for Nu Sigma Chi is much greater,’” said Lynne. “Let’s create a Nu Sig Legacy Fund.” The fund supports special programs hosted by the president at the Alumni House, Alumni and Executives in Residence at the Alumni House, unique alumni programs, including social gatherings onand off-campus, alumni networking, alumni guest speakers, student-focused events, and Nu Sigma Chi events at the Alumni House or during Alumni Reunion Weekend. “We have already raised about $75,000,” said Lynne. “We purchased china with the Alumni House logo on it for the Alumni House. On the back, it reads, ‘Donated by Nu Sigma Chi.’ We had a West Coast reunion at my house in Palm Desert, Calif., in February that was partially underwritten by the Nu Sigma Chi Legacy Fund. We had a goal of $100,000. It looks like we are going to meet that soon.” So, during Alumni Reunion Weekend, Lynne met with a few members from the College’s Division of Institutional Advancement to take the Nu Sigma Chi Legacy Fund to another level. “Let’s form the Centennial Committee for the 100th anniversary of the sorority in 2028,” she recounted. “Looking ahead within the next 20 years, let’s set a goal of a half million dollars to be raised for the Legacy Fund and expand even further its potential impact on scholarships and underwriting campus arts programs.” Lynne and her husband, Jack, a Portland native and longtime partner in a prestigious law firm there, already had been benefactors to the Art Museum and the Japanese Gardens in their Oregon community. Jack, who was a well-respected lawyer and the former national president of The American Lung Association, died in July, 2008. “I established a foundation at the Japanese Garden in my husband’s and my name,” said Lynne. “He had been in a care facility the last two-and-a-half years. This whole project, me being involved with the Alumni House and the Japanese Gardens, is a tribute to him.” In February, Lynne was talking about the success of the Legacy Fund with President Erik J. Bitterbaum during dinner.
“I said, ‘I am ready to step up to my next donation, but it’s going to have to have my name on it,’” recalled Lynne. “He just turned to me and casually said, “You can name the Alumni House for a million dollars.’ I thought about it overnight. I called Doug DeRancy, who is the key guy, and said I am going to go ahead with this.” On April 12, 2008, the Alumni Association Board of Directors formally approved the naming of the house. “My only criteria for the naming was that because it was my 40th class reunion and my sorority’s 80th reunion, I wanted the name to be on the sign when I drove in,” said Lynne. “When I pulled in during a torrential downpour on Thursday (of Alumni Reunion Weekend), there it was — the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House. It was a special moment.” Forty-four years earlier, Lynne first arrived at SUNY Cortland through the doors of Bishop Hall as a freshman from Amsterdam, N.Y., where she was a member of the chorus, Phi Delta Sorority and a popular cheerleader for the W.H. Lynch High School football and basketball teams, the latter advancing to the state championship game. Her father moved the family in 1956 from Yonkers to Amsterdam, where he worked with Mohawk Carpet Mills. “I was the first one in my family on both sides to go to college,” said Lynne, who chose Cortland because she wanted to major in physical education. “My mother passed away after my freshman year. My father remarried and has been married to Margaret since 1966. I have two brothers. My brother, Bob, joined me in Oregon in 1979 and has worked with Intel Corporation his entire career. My younger brother, John, is an engineer and lives in Loudonville, N.Y., with his wife, Diane, and their children, Natalie and Ryan.” In Bishop Hall, Lynne roomed with Diane McKinnon. The two pledged Nu Sigma Chi that year and were only two of four sophomores chosen to live at the sorority house on Prospect Terrace, their college home for the next three years. “It was an amazing experience because the house was so big,” remembered Lynne. “There were 40-some of us who lived there. It’s funny because friends of mine who were in other sororities and fraternities aren’t nearly as close today because their houses weren’t as big. It was PAGE 13
Mother Bickford’s first year. We had formal dinners. We had cooks and people to clean, although we had to take care of our own rooms. We were always doing fundraisers for good causes in Cortland or at the College.” Lynne immersed herself in Hellenic activities. “We went to Cornell, Colgate and Syracuse for fraternity and sorority parties,” she said. “Our whole social life revolved around the sorority.” Academically, Lynne recalled the stringent demands of her physical education courses. “It was a tough major,” she said. “We are talking about every Saturday morning being down at the field house for classes. But the preparation we had for teaching school was wonderful. It was a very, very rigorous program. Most of the women who were PE professors were very, very dedicated and talented. They made us toe the line.” Lynne singled out one professor, Arden Peck, as “an inspiration.” She supervised Lynne during her student teaching stints in the Endicott, N.Y., schools and wrote her recommendations when Lynne sought a job in California. “Many of us had a pact that we were going to California,” said Lynne. “Some of the gals from the class of 1967 had gone before us. Every single day the recruiters were here, there was someone from California. I must have applied for 10 jobs. I was offered a job in every single school district. We were zeroing in on Orange County.” Lynne accepted a job as a 7th and 8th grade physical educator in Tustin, Calif. Another Nu Sig, Barbara Schnell Dryden ’68, also taught in Tustin while sorority sister Nancy Hullar Willis ’68, took a teaching position nearby. They formed a two-car caravan with Lynne and Diane, who had a job on Long Island but went along for the cross-country ride. Soon, Ellen Balet Wilson ’68, who accepted a teaching job in California, flew out and lived with the other three. “Tustin was a very wealthy district, but they never had a PE teacher who was a trained PE teacher,” noted Lynne, who also was able to expand upon her interest in dance. “I was chosen in the school district for a summer school program. I wrote up a curriculum for modern dance, interpretative dance. I taught for three summers, specifically with interpreting poetry and modern and folk dance.” PAGE 14
Always possessing a bit of wanderlust, Lynne traveled throughout California and visited Mexico and Las Vegas. After three years at Tustin, she envisioned touring Europe, perhaps getting a job at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Just before she was ready to head east, Lynne got an offer to teach for the Department of Defense at Chofu High School located on an American air base outside Tokyo, Japan. “It changed my life,” said Lynne. “Once I learned the train system, I traveled all over Japan. It was such a clean country with beautiful gardens. I loved the whole aesthetics and Zen kind of feel of the Japanese people. It affected me for the rest of my life. My house in Oregon is all Asian. I brought back antiques and artwork from Japan. I am on the Asian Art Council in Portland at the museum. I wear a lot of Asian-inspired clothing and jewelry. I am involved in charity events at the Japanese Gardens in Portland. “When you traveled around Japan back then, you could always find a little sushi stand or a soba shop to have soup. You also could travel inexpensively by staying at a ryokan, a small Japanese inn where you slept on the floor. I was only there one year, but at Christmas vacation I went to Taiwan, the Philippines and Bangkok on a tour. Then for Easter vacation, I flew to Guam. By the end of the academic year, Lynne wasn’t sure what she wanted to do except not to teach. “I really didn’t enjoy my teaching experience there as much as in California, possibly because I was now teaching high school and I looked like I was only 18 years old,” explained Lynne, who sent job applications around to the military bases. She landed a position as a program director at the Yokota Air Base Recreation Center on an air base near Tokyo. She planned programs and supervised a travel department for soldiers and their families. Her most memorable trip was leading a contingent up Mt. Fuji, Japan’s highest peak. “That’s a religious experience for most Japanese people,” Lynne noted. “They have to climb Mt. Fuji at least once in their lives. It’s not a steep climb because there’s a pathway all the way up. It’s about a 12-hour hike. We started in late afternoon so that we could see the sunrise.” Four months into her new job, Lynne met a schoolteacher from Portland. When he returned to
Oregon for his master’s degree, he asked Lynne to join him. The two were wed in Amsterdam in 1972 and lived in Portland for the next two years. Lynne worked briefly as the Timberline Lodge Ski School secretary at Oregon’s Mt. Hood. Once her husband earned his master’s, the couple decided they wanted to work in Europe and put in for Department of Defense teaching positions. He was offered one in Ansbach, Germany. Lynne substitute taught briefly before once again becoming a recreation program director. “I was in Bavaria for five years and had wonderful assignments,” she said. “I worked in Ansbach, Berchtesgaden and in Nuremberg, where I lived in the old city,” she recounted. “One of the first things the Army did when you got there was to take the dependents to the Iron Curtain border and show us the guards and the dogs. One of my friends was a recreation center director in Berlin. I stayed there for five days and went through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin on a military bus in civilian clothes. It was an eye-opener. So, to this day, I am very patriotic, supporting our troops and what they are fighting for.
Galapagos Islands, Australia and New Zealand. I have a very wonderful lifestyle. I go to Cabo San Lucas every year. I drive the Baja from Palm Desert.” With her name on the historic structure, Lynne said she might be back more frequently to visit the Alumni House and the College. “I believe there’s unlimited potential as far as the money we can raise for the Alumni House and the functions related to alumni,” she concluded. Lynne was the first alumnus to become a trustee and a year later made the $1 million donation to the house. For this extraordinary generosity she was honored by the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association and College by having the Alumni House named for her.
“Then, in 1979, my marriage broke up over there. I decided it was time to come back. I’d been back only once to visit. I wanted to go back to Portland. I loved it there. I didn’t have any family but a lot of friends.” Lynne earned an M.B.A. from Portland State University in 1981. She founded and operated RSVP Events, a corporate and private event-planning company in the Portland area, until 1991. As a student at Portland State, Lynne lived in an apartment walking distance from campus. While there, she met her future husband, Jack Hoffman. “He was a partner in a huge law firm, Bullivant, Houser, Bailey, Pendergrass and Hoffman,” said Lynne. “When he went to work for it, there were only five lawyers. The firm now has more than 200 lawyers. When he retired, he had been a lawyer for 50 years in Portland. In September, we would have celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary.” Lynne stays active with yoga, Pilates and swimming while working with a personal trainer. She enjoys needlepoint and plans to “travel, travel and travel.” “I’ve been to Morocco, Egypt, Israel and all over Europe,” she said. “I’ve been to Vietnam, Cuba, the PAGE 15
Louise DaMassa Sessa ’58 has inspired many of her fellow classmates with her dedication and loyalty to SUNY Cortland, whether they befriended her as fellow students long ago or only met her in the whirlwind months preceding the Class of 1958’s gala 50th anniversary celebration.
the beautiful facilities and grounds for all SUNY Cortland alumni to enjoy and call home.
The Syracuse Chapter of the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association honored her on Nov. 4 in Jamesville, N.Y., as its 2009 Central New York Alum of the Year.
Louise recently established two scholarships to recognize and assist promising and talented students with financial need at SUNY Cortland. The Louise DaMassa Sessa ’58 and Michael Sessa Scholarships will support five students in Fall 2010.
Louise also made a donation to support the Alumni House, for which she was honored by having the staircase named in memory of her husband, Michael, her beloved sorority, Nu Sigma Chi, and herself.
Louise DaMassa Sessa This praise for a Capital “I’m a firm believer in District born-and-bred Class of 1958 education,” Louise said. “So, alumna by Central New I really wanted to leave the York graduates might trustee of THE LYNNE PARKS ’68 scholarships open for anyone surprise anyone who SUNY CORTLAND ALUMNI HOUSE who is in need, no matter what doesn’t know Louise. their major is.” Having helped organize many a Class of 1958 Louise confides that her reunion from her native retirement years have brought her closer to her alma mater. Schenectady, N.Y., she moved to Jamesville in 2003 “My husband and I were in business and I didn’t after she and her late husband, Michael, retired and have time to devote to alumni affairs, although I did sold their pharmacy. work on class reunions,” Louise recalls. “I taught in The Class of 1958 Reunion Committee described Schenectady and in Jericho, Long Island, when my their co-chair as its “driving force.” She telephoned, husband was in college. After he graduated from e-mailed and wrote letters to classmates to encourage pharmacy school, we moved back to Schenectady and their attendance at Alumni Reunion Weekend and we decided to open our own pharmacy. Eventually I support the class gift. Louise helped her class earn the did stop teaching because his business started to grow. Foundation Director’s Cup and President’s Cup at the But my mother always said, ‘You don’t ever lose your 2008 reunion. education. You channel it in a different route.’ And that’s exactly what I did. I went from education to “She is the heartbeat of our Class of ’58,” wrote four Nu business and my education paid off.” Sigma Chi alumnae in her class, Shirley Small Hornbeck, Margaret “Peggy” Roach Kennedy, Maryanne Onoff Trapanese and Vivian Cotter. “Lou is a very energetic, friendly and most generous person. She is such a special person and we salute her accomplishments.” As a Trustee of the Alumni House, Louise worked closely with the staff of the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House to help improve PAGE 16
Her recent honor took her by surprise. “I was bowled over, absolutely. I said, ‘What’s all the hubbub? You do things for the College, the College thanks you, your classmates thank you, boom, it’s all over with.’ Well, it is a great honor and I am humbled by Marilyn (Lewis Marcy ’58) writing such a gracious nomination letter to the College.”
Louise reflects that she almost dropped out as a freshman and has the faculty to thank for changing her mind. “I don’t think I was in school a month when my father had a double heart attack and I was going to leave college,” Louise recalls. “I went to the Physical Education Department and spoke to them. I was one of seven children and with my father not being able to go back to work, I thought I should get a job and help my mom along. They encouraged me to get a job here on campus and finish the semester. “My father never did go back to work. And I never did leave college, thank goodness. Louise fondly recalls physical education faculty members Lenore Alway, Dorothy Arnsdorff, Marie Riley and Joan Tillotson. “I always felt we had the best faculty in the world,” Louise said. “Because they were dedicated, they inspired us, they pushed us, they were genuinely interested in us to achieve our goals, to develop into professionals and to meet the challenges of our careers and lives. These strong women were definitely role models in telling me I could tackle and accomplish anything that I wanted to do. “I have a deep gratitude to Cortland for my exceptional education, which I believe, in all honesty, led to my successful career in education and mostly in business.” During college, some major life lessons occurred outside the classroom, through the loving influence of Nu Sigma Chi house mother, Mother Bentley, said Louise, who lived at the sorority house on Prospect Terrace her junior and senior years. “Having her really as a second mother, so to speak, she instilled in us not only the idea of getting involved in the college community but in the greater Cortland community as well by helping out in any way. “I’m asked by family and friends and classmates why I give back to Cortland. There was a fabulous, fabulous saying by Winston Churchill: ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.’ I hope by my actions to inspire others to do so as well.” Louise was the second alumnus to become an Alumni House Trustee.
If there’s such a thing as a guardian angel, then most assuredly SUNY Cortland has a living and breathing one in John M. Fantauzzi ’58, a retired Afro-Asian Studies teacher who now resides in Cape Coral, Fla. Fantauzzi’s unparalleled generosity to his alma mater in the late 1980s restored the grandeur of Old Main’s auditorium in the name of his former mentor, Ralph Adams Brown. Since the early 1990s, the scholarship that bears his own surname has bettered the lives for children of immigrants studying at SUNY Cortland.
“John gives from the heart,” explained DeRancy. “John gives because he has values and principles which confirm for him that it’s the right thing to do. He’s not at all a materialistic human being. He is more concerned about giving back and creating opportunities for other people.”
Fantauzzi knows something about economic hardships, hard work and the rewards of a good education. Growing up as one of 10 children of Italian and Sicilian immigrants, Fantauzzi took his first job at age nine, a time in his life when he dreaded being a student.
Class of 1958
“School was a chore before going to work every day,” he recalled. “With more than $4.5 trustee of THE LYNNE PARKS ’68 “It was very little fun.” million in donations over SUNY CORTLAND ALUMNI HOUSE the years, John is the After high school, Fantauzzi largest individual donor in went on to serve in the U.S. the College’s history,” said Marine Corps and then to Douglas DeRancy ’75, the attend SUNY Cortland with the help of $3,300 former College’s executive director of alumni affairs. through the G.I. Bill. “From that standpoint, he’s a role model. But more importantly, John spent his entire life achieving self “That was a great government investment which has sufficiency. He has taken everything that he has saved been repaid many thousands of times,” he noted. “At and has given it back to students who want to secure a Cortland, without any financial constraints, learning quality higher education at Cortland.” became enjoyable and I’ve never stopped doing it. Numerous SUNY Cortland students have received the very generous Fantauzzi Scholarship which is renewable annually if the student maintains a 2.7 grade point average.
The educational experience at Cortland was great. Instructors cared about student progress and the College was small and comfortable for my return to public education.”
“John’s generous, long-term commitment has allowed us to be the gateway to opportunity for dozens of first generation college students,” added SUNY Cortland President Emeritus Judson H. Taylor. “I visit with John regularly, and I am always re-energized by his unwavering belief in what education can do to improve lives.”
Fantauzzi remembers his early secondary social studies professors — individuals such as Brown, Gilbert Cahill, Margaret Halligan and Donald Stewart — for challenging him and, in doing so, impacting his life. Cortland was an important stepping stone in Fantauzzi’s chosen career as a teacher.
DeRancy also cherishes his friendship with Fantauzzi because he admires the qualities of his character and the compassion behind his actions.
“When you reach 55 (years old), it’s ‘give back’ time,” said Fantauzzi, who initially proposed a scholarship for first generation Americans at Cortland in the
late 1980s, but was persuaded by the College administration to direct his $50,000 gift to the badly needed Old Main auditorium project. But Fantauzzi continued donating to SUNY Cortland. He established the John M. Fantauzzi Scholarship as “repayment to Cortland for its impact on my life.” “I believe that each generation should try to advance the family academically,” he explained in establishing the criteria for the award. “I stressed this with students in my classes and first generation students are most enthusiastic.”
The Fantauzzi Scholarship One need look no further than the Fantauzzi Scholarship recipients themselves to affirm that perception or to acknowledge the long-term effect of one man’s faith in the potential of another’s education. “In my mind, the advantage of being a first generation American studying in the U.S. is that I am motivated to work harder to succeed in life,” said Jacob K. Mezrahi ’01, a Fantauzzi Scholarship winner and former Student Government Association president. “My parents left Iran in 1979 in pursuit of a better life for their children and I was born a year later,” added Mezrahi, who learned Persian and Hebrew in addition to English while growing up and was often affected by the cultural differences with his American peers. “My parents put an emphasis on education. They made sure I went to college so I could learn and succeed. My brother and I were the first in our family to go away to school, so we set the example for everyone, including all my cousins.” Mezrahi, unsure how he would afford his college education, studied hard as a freshman in the hopes of obtaining a scholarship. His first year, he also pledged a fraternity and ran for student president which kept him from pursuing a student job. Getting the Fantauzzi Scholarship as a sophomore changed his life. “Not only did it give me the freedom to pursue my goals and dreams as a two-term student government president and fraternity treasurer, but it gave me a sense of reward that all I was doing was making a difference.” SUNY Cortland juniors Marcella Caramassa, the daughter of immigrants from Naples, Italy, and Arete
Georgakopoulos, whose mother is English and father is Greek, attended Cortland on Fantauzzi Scholarships. Both are the first in their families to go to college and both have always felt the support of their mothers and fathers with their educational decisions. “Being brought up in two different cultures taught me to accept changes in life and differences in other people,” added Caramassa, a secondary English major who works at a student job with limited hours. The scholarship allowed her to concentrate on her classes, serve as a hall government secretary and earn induction into the Kappa Delta Pi honor society. “The scholarship has also shown me how lucky I am to be a part of this culture,” she said. “I am also very proud of my parents for they have shown me how hard work and dedication pay off.” Georgakopoulos, an international studies major with a French minor, echoed those sentiments, stating that college was an opportunity his parents never had but one they hoped he might enjoy someday. “I was impressed that Cortland offers a scholarship to students like me, who are first generation American kids,” he explained. “This scholarship is almost like an honor for kids who are of immigrant parents. This scholarship is an opportunity for first generation students to take pride in their ethnicity when some others are experiencing prejudice and discrimination due to their ethnic backgrounds.” Georgakopoulos' goal was to get a job as a translator for an international company or possibly work for U.S. customs. Mezrahi wants to work to improve health education and expand that important subject in a national K-12 program in all public schools. Gwen Girtain ’93, a Fantauzzi Scholarship recipient of Canadian heritage who now works in the Cortland City Schools as a speech language pathologist, is forever thankful for receiving the $3,400-per-year award. “I was a single parent with one of my children requiring day care,” recalled Girtain, who like Fantauzzi hails from a large family. The scholarship allowed her as a student to become involved in the Non-Traditional Students Association, to teach Sunday school and to serve on the board of the Cortland Children’s Center. PAGE 19
“The generosity of alumni like Mr. Fantauzzi gave me hope when there seemed to be little,” she admitted.“ The Fantauzzi Scholarship continues to impact my life. It allowed me to complete my studies and that has offered me a career. We now have our own home. Beyond that, I believe that my attending college while my children were young has made a positive impact on them. My oldest son has completed his first year of college. My second begins his first year this fall and my youngest has plans to attend. Higher education is their plan. There are no questions in their minds.” Each recipient stays in touch with Fantauzzi, keeping him abreast of their progress and ambitions. “He has given me much advice on my future,” said Caramassa. “I thank him endlessly for the help he has given me.” “I got the chance to actually meet him and sit with him for awhile and that was a great experience because he is truly a fantastic individual,” said Mezrahi, who visited Fantauzzi in Florida with College staff while student president. “I look forward to being able to help someone go through the same experience someday.” While Fantauzzi admits that “the cards, letters and e-mails” he receives from the recipients “make it all worthwhile,” perhaps his greatest reward comes from knowing that others, whose lives he has forever changed for the better, have already begun to spread his love for higher education, for philanthropy and for his alma mater, SUNY Cortland, an institution which will forever be grateful to him. John was the third alumnus to agree to become an Alumni House Trustee.
Become a Trustee
MAKE A CHARITABLE DONATION Because the Alumni House Trustee Program is part of the College’s second capital campaign, gifts may be made over a five-year period. Some options that are available for making gifts include: • Cash or gift of stock (we have electronic stock transfer services in place) • Charitable Gift Annuity • Charitable Remainder Trust • Retirement Plan Assets • Bequest Note: The College has a planned giving professional on staff who will be available to address questions and provide technical assistance. All of these gift options have distinct tax advantages and some also offer guaranteed life income. If you are interested in receiving more information on the Alumni House Trustee Program, please feel free to contact Douglas DeRancy ‘75, assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement, at (607) 753-5571 or by e-mail to email@example.com.