Impact of Your Gift

2018 Phonathon Callers

Thank you!

Thank you for your generosity to SUNY Oneonta. Your investment helps our College to provide students with resources they need to reach their full potential. Whether they pursue studies in art, literature, education, business, or science, students gain the knowledge and experience needed to succeed in an ever-changing world. Through classroom instruction, hands-on learning in laboratories and studios, internship opportunities, and extracurricular activities, SUNY Oneonta students become leaders and important contributors to our society.

The following articles and videos highlight the great things that your philanthropy makes possible today and in the future. SUNY Oneonta's successes would not be possible without your unwavering support and commitment. Thank you for your dedication to help our students become fully prepared to embark on their roads to success!

Reducing the burden of student debt is one of SUNY Oneonta's top priorities. As tuition and other expenses continue to increase, financial and merit-based scholarships help bridge the gap for students and provide access to a quality education. Through your charitable giving, scholarships introduce students to a world of possibilities, as students below say it best...

Diana Garcia '19
Diego Mendoza Romero '21
Xuehua Li '19

"This scholarship is meaningful to me because I am not an individual who comes from a wealthy family. My family has struggled financially and have always tried their best to supply my brother and me with everything we need. You have a huge impact on students. There are many students who withdraw from college because they are not able to afford it. However, you make it possible for these individuals which is something I am very grateful for." 

DIANA GARCIA '19 Mathematics major

Recipient of the William A. Clement '69 Scholarship

"I am very grateful for receiving this scholarship because it will aid to further my current and future studies in biology. I feel more motivated to keep exploring the different career paths that a biology major has. I would like to say thank you for the opportunity that was given to me this academic year. Scholarships like this really help students accomplish their goals during their college experience." 

DIEGO MENDOZA ROMERO '21 Biology major Spanish minor

Recipient of the Dr. William J. & Majorie M. Pietraface Biology Scholarship

"I have been awarded this scholarship the past three years. By receiving this scholarship, it helps me achieve my goals more easily without considering tuition problems and it reminds me to work harder. Thank you again for allowing me the honor of receiving the Garth Stam Scholarship!"

XUEHUA LI '19 Mass Communications major

Recipient of the Garth Stam Scholarship

Sixty-four SUNY Oneonta students participated in faculty-led trips during the March 2019 spring break that took them across the world. Wherever the destination, trips broadened students' perspectives, increased student engagement, strengthened student-faculty research and creative activities, and promoted global connections. The following is a collection of their amazing experiences abroad.

South Africa

Four art students traveled to South Africa with Lecturer Pearlie Baluyut for a week of academic and cultural exchange with students at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where Nelson Mandela once studied. 

Working closely with Wits University students and a host faculty member, SUNY Oneonta students developed a greater understanding of identity politics, social justice and human rights through art and creative research through applied-service learning activities at the Witz University, Wits Art Museum, and Play Africa, a non-profit organization that serves families and children from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Baluyut said the trip "provided the students with a critical and humbling view of a global landscape filled with lessons and opportunities."  

SUNY Oneonta students abroad in South Africa

 "With first-hand knowledge and an unforgettable international experience, the American and South African students are in a better position to serve as advocates of mutual cooperation and catalysts of global exchange to ensure a kinder future for themselves and the generations to come," said Baluyut.

A standout moment was a trip to the Apartheid Museum, where students learned about the tragic and triumphant history of South Africa and its people through dynamic exhibitions featuring videos, photographs, paintings, and other objects. They also went on a behind-the-scene curatorial tour of Constitution Hill (the courts, prison cells, and art gallery).


In nearby Zimbabwe, two seniors, accompanied by Professor of Political Science Robert Compton, were busy learning the political development and political economy of the country and difficulties of non-governmental organizations operating under unstable socio-economic conditions. 

The students met with a large array of groups including Parliament staff and elected national legislators, the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust, the Clerk of Parliament, the National Association of NGO's, the University of Zimbabwe and the U.S. Embassy. At the opposition Movement for Democratic Change offices, the students saw the after-effects of riots at the offices, which included shattered windows and the charred markings of a fire bomb. Despite experiencing electoral conflict, violence and a declining peacetime economy, the students found that Zimbabweans were hospitable, friendly, and hopeful for the future.

The small group also visited Heroes Acre and Domboshawa Park; toured Mbare high-density suburbs; saw Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides; and enjoyed a sunset on a Zambezi River cruise. They also saw the Mbizi Game Reserve and the famous Hwange National Wildlife Reserve, where zebras, bushbucks, hippos, baboons, giraffes, elands, and elephants roam.

students abroad in Zimbabwe for spring break 2019
students abroad in Zimbabwe for spring break 2019
students abroad in Zimbabwe for spring break 2019

South Korea

Five students traveled to Seoul, South Korea, for a cultural immersion program called "The Philosophies of Peace" that explored philosophical, cultural, social, religious and historical aspects of the notion of peace. 

Under the direction of philosophy Lecturer Dr. Danial Patrone, the students saw numerous museums, temples government offices, and markets. They developed

students abroad in Seoul, South Korea for spring break 2019

a deeper understanding of Korean history, culture, and philosophy through attending contemporary theatre productions, traditional Korean dance performances, musical performances, religious rituals, and philosophy classes. 

Highlights included studying Confucian temples; meeting with monks at a Buddhist temple; touring The Korean Demilitarized Zone; learning about the history and current political situation involving North and South Korea; and speaking with a North Korean defector about life in North Korea, her experiences defecting, and the prospects of a stable and lasting peace in the region. 

"My trip to South Korea was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Anna Korniak, Class of 2020. "I enjoyed fully immersing myself in the culture, which helped me learn a lot about the country and about myself. The beautiful city of Seoul was captivating, and the experiences I had exploring the city I will never forget."

Students also visited Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) to meet with students and faculty, and attend philosophy classes with their Korean peers. In the evening, SKKU students hosted SUNY Oneonta students at a traditional Korean barbecue to learn more about each other and develop new friendships.

students abroad in Seoul, South Korean for spring break 2019
students abroad in Seoul, South Korea for spring break 2019
students abroad in Seoul, South Korea for spring break 2019


Four education students traveled to Cali, Columbia with Assistant Professor Thor Gibbins. The students completed a field experience in bilingual schools- one an affluent foreign school and the other in a less-privileged area.

Students abroad in Cali, Columbia for spring break 2019
Students abroad in Cali, Columbia for spring break 2019
Students abroad in Cali, Columbia for spring break 2019

McKenzie Hyer, a Childhood Education major in the Class of 2019, said of the eye-opening trip, "We were able to compare education systems in the United States to those in Columbia. We saw how some schools are given more opportunities and resources than others, just as you can observe in the U.S. How that influences children in both societies is something I will continue to consider as I grow as an educator."

Puerto Rico

Eight students traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to continue Hurricane Maria cleanup efforts through Jewish Response to Disaster or "Nechama," a volunteer-driven global nonprofit organization. The students cleaned, swept, hammered, painted, worked on roofs, and more to help the area recover.

They were accompanied by Associate Professor of Biology Sean Robinson and Center for Social Responsibility and Community Director Linda Drake. They stayed with other NECHAMA volunteers, saw the lush flora and fauna of the island, went on some very muddy hikes, and did some sightseeing in Old San Juan. 

students working in Puerto Rico for spring break 2019
Students abroad in Puerto Rico for spring break 2019
Students abroad in Puerto Rico for spring break 2019
Zachary Vaccaro '18

Zachary Vaccaro '18 didn't let a battle with cancer keep him from achieving his goals. After completing his on-campus Mass Communications degree requirements, Zachary decided to put his education to work for a cause that hit close to home. During the fall 2018 semester, Zachary participated in a three-month internship at the American Cancer Society. He shared that, "As a cancer survivor, being able to be a part of this organization was overwhelming in a good way."

Completing a full-semester internship is a significant financial burden for any student. Fortunately, Zachary was able to receive funding through the Dewar Foundation Fund for Internship Support, a fund established to make internship experiences more accessible for SUNY Oneonta students. Simply put, Zachary shared that, "without this fund, I would not have been able to afford my internship at the American Cancer Society."

During his internship, Zachary worked in Philadelphia, New York City, and Atlanta on a variety of fundraising campaigns such as "Real Men Wear Pink" and "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer." Specifically, he gained experience working on video campaigns and social media outreach projects. Zachary was also fortunate enough to sit in on a video shoot for their "Society Talk" speaker series - all of which provided enhancements to his portfolio and resume. 

Zachary now works for FXAV, an audio and visual company in New York City, in addition to his freelance video and event photography work. "My internship at the American Cancer Society opened up new doors in my life. Thank you to everyone who continues to support SUNY Oneonta students!"

"My internship at the American Cancer Society opened up new doors in my life. Thank you to everyone who continues to support SUNY Oneonta students!"

Seven SUNY Oneonta students with Professor Alejandra Escudero, PhD-ABD, from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, traveled to Barranquilla, Colombia over this past Spring Break with support from the Global Connectedness Fund.  They created a short video to thank their donors for their generosity and showcase all that occurred during their travels.

Janet Perna '70

SUNY Oneonta's Science 1 building is now named the "Janet R. Perna Science Building" in recognition of distinguished alumna Janet Perna '70, who has made a gift commitment of $5 million to the State University College at Oneonta Foundation.

Half of Perna's gift will be allocated to our unrestricted endowment, providing funding that is flexible in nature and critical in supporting strategic initiatives designated by the College Foundation Board of Directors, including scholarships, student and faculty research, internship support, and faculty development. The other half will be restricted to the "Janet Perna '70 Women in Technology Scholarship."

The SUNY Board of Trustees made the naming of the Perna Science Building official in accordance with the State University of New York Naming Opportunities Policy and Procedure on March 22, 2018. SUNY Oneonta's College Council also approved the naming of this building at a special meeting. 

Like many students who attend SUNY Oneonta, I was the first in my family to graduate from college. This gift will make it possible for others to have the opportunity to realize their dreams and aspirations."

"This will be the largest charitable gift ever made by a graduate of SUNY Oneonta," said former college President Nancy Kleniewski. "Janet, who distinguished herself as IBM Software Group's highest ranking female executive before retiring in 2006, is a very generous person, having already given a half-million dollars for scholarships to women in STEM disciplines. We are immensely grateful to her for this impressive gift."

"I am making this significant gift because I believe in the importance of a quality education to improving the overall socio-economic climate within the United States and worldwide," Perna said. "Like many students who attend SUNY Oneonta, I was the first in my family to graduate from college. This gift will make it possible for others to have the opportunity to realize their dreams and aspirations.

"I chose SUNY Oneonta for the beautiful campus and the way it made me feel at home. I am so happy I chose SUNY Oneonta to be the next chapter in my life." 

Kassandra Erickson ’19 - Business and Economics Major
College Foundation 25th Anniversary Scholarship for Academic Excellence Recipient

Kassandra Erickson ’19

Much of the campus’ landscaping can be attributed to the involvement and generosity of Clara Voss Netzer, wife of Dr. Royal Netzer, fourth president of the college from 1961-1970.

During her lifetime, Mrs. Netzer, an avid gardener, provided her advice and expertise in planting hundreds of trees on our campus, many of them oaks, which continue to adorn the grounds today.

Mrs. Netzer sought to continue her passion “to enhance and beautify the college grounds” through her estate plan. By naming the College at Oneonta Foundation in her will, her gift created the Netzer Campus Beautification Fund in memory of Dr. Royal Netzer. Her legacy gift improved our campus for the past 25 years. In acknowledging Mrs. Netzer’s generous bequest and Dr. Netzer’s leadership, the College Foundation Board of Directors named our Netzer Planned Giving Society in their memory and chose the oak leaf as its symbol.

Former College Foundation Board of Directors president, Dr. Thomas Hughson, reflected on the impact of this gift: “Mrs. Netzer’s love of and interest in the college will now have an everlasting place in supporting the mission of the institution. It is gratifying to see that her affection for the college never waned, and the College Foundation Board will be forever grateful to Mrs. Netzer and the many people like her who support the college in many ways.”

If you are interested in learning how you can create your lasting legacy through a gift in your will and estate plan, please contact:

Ellen M. Blaisdell
Director of Gift Planning
(607) 436-2781

Mercedes Serrano '20

"My name is Mercedes Serrano '20, a Biology major with a concentration in Medicine and a minor in Women's and Gender Studies. 

When I first visited campus, I noticed the Oneonta State Emergency Squad (OSES), the paramedic team on campus. OSES is the reason I decided to attend SUNY Oneonta. I felt my involvement in OSES could give me a closer look into the medical field and pave the way for my future. 

However, I knew paying for college would be challenging. I come from a very low-income household; my mother left her professional job in the Dominican Republic to give my brother and me a better life. Without the College at Oneonta Foundation 20th Anniversary Scholarship, the pursuit of furthering my education would not be possible! This is the first time I ever received a scholarship and I feel proud. My scholarship makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. 

I wouldn't have this opportunity without donors. Donor generosity makes an impact on students financially and personally, encouraging us to pursue our career goals. To all the donors who made my scholarship possible, thank you! I will not let your gift go in vain and will continue to work extremely hard toward my college degree."

Constance Finnerty teaching Mayan Community Leaders about how to use water filters

For Dr. Tracey Allen, Interim Dean for the School of Sciences, exposing students to applicable field work and the wonders of science are priorities in the classroom. With funding made available through the Global Connectedness Fund, Dr. Allen and Dr. Devin Castednyk, Adjunct Associate Professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, led students in a global field course to Guatemala. Titled "Water and the Environment of Guatemala," students tested the water quality of Lake Atitlan and obtained a baseline reading of the arsenic levels in the surrounding area.

"Thank you for your generosity, because without your donation, I would've never been able to afford an experience that has shaped my world view, and my scientific prowess towards the ecological and biochemical sciences." Constance Finnerty '19

Biology major Constance Finnerty '19, and Environmental Sustainability major Casey McCurty '20, were among the students that participated in the field course. Their travels were funded entirely through the Global Connectedness Fund, without which neither student would have had this experience. Through their extensive testing and research, it was discovered that water in some areas was so contaminated with arsenic, that it far exceeded safe drinking water standards. 

To ensure locals' awareness, the arsenic data was turned over to the affected Mayan Communities. Although the source of the arsenic had not been uncovered, the data and results obtained will allow for future research to take place and aid in addressing this health issue. 

Philanthropic support of student-faculty research enables our students to travel abroad and make an impact that will change lives. 

James Garzia '18

James Garzia '18, Math and Accounting major and recipient of the John J. Doherty '87 Scholarship, served as Vice President and Co-Founder of SUNY Oneonta's Entrepreneurship Club. Working with Club President, Timothy Distler '18, the two began to envision an on-campus Innovation Center to promote creativity, enhance problem-solving skills, and better prepare students for the real world. 

James' goal involves "collaboration across majors in an entrepreneurial atmosphere, creating new ways of thinking and communication, linking students with start-up businesses in the community and identifying existing business needs through internships and project-based opportunities, thus enhancing collaborative efforts between SUNY Oneonta, the Oneonta Community, and Mohawk Valley Region."

James and Timothy needed funding to make their vision a reality. "With the help of Mr. Alan Rubin '93 and the A&D Transport Services Entrepreneurial Fund he established, we started building in the spring of 2018. We were able to obtain space on campus in the Hunt Student Union." The funds above were used to purchase equipment such as touch-table technology and whiteboards. "We hope that all students will use the Innovation Center during the upcoming fall semester, James emphasized."

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Rubin has given   us. Thank you!”

Excited that the Innovation Center is becoming a reality, James shared, "the opportunity for students and faculty to engage in entrepreneurism will directly add to the empowerment of students to identify and achieve ambitious goals!" Additional gifts for this purpose are welcomed and we would be delighted to endow the Innovation and Entrepreneurial Fund. 

"I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Rubin has given us. Thank you!"

James McAteer '08 participated in the campus to career program, Backpacks to Briefcases, when he attended SUNY Oneonta. Over the years, he has participated as an alum to give current students industry-specific advice. Watch as James recaps this year's event and discusses how the program affected him as a student as well as an alum. This program (and many others) is funded by generous gifts from alumni & friends to the Fund For Oneonta.


College Advancement
308 Netzer Admin Building
Oneonta, New York 13820
(607) 436-2535

Tax Information
The State University College at Oneonta Foundation Corporation
Tax ID: 22-2403203

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