An anonymous alumnus has told the school that he is bequeathing $5 million to the Possibility Scholars Program, a statement released by Oswego State said.
It is the largest planned gift in the school’s history and will affect the lives of generations of students who otherwise might not have been able to afford a college education.
By supporting math and science education for New York state students, the gift will potentially provide a lift for the whole area economically.
At the donor’s request, his identity will remain anonymous and the money will not be donated until after the donor has passed away. He wants to avoid the maximum 55 percent estate tax. “I would rather give a dollar than pay 55 cents to Uncle Sam,” he said.
“This is a transformative gift that will make individual dreams come true and can help boost the economy of our state,” said Oswego State President Deborah Stanley in a statement. “With this gift, our generous donor is opening the door to a college education and a better life for many of our future students.”
Possibility Scholarships provide students from New York state, who generally live in urban areas and want to study in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, with the financial help they need to attend Oswego State. They cover all tuition fees and room and board, in coordination with any other grants or scholarships awarded, for four full years.
Possibility Scholars travel to one of several Global Laboratory partners that Oswego State has around the world to study and work on science projects with researchers in their fields.
The donor wants the money to support the study of math, which he believes is a critical aspect to most fields.
“Math is a universal language and supports every other subject,” the donor said in a statement. “Regardless of what career path one takes, a strong math background is important to excel.”
The donor used his skills to determine which troops to bring home at the end of the Vietnam War while working with the Pentagon. So as a Vietnam War veteran, the donor wants to keep America more competitive in the global economy, he said, by reversing a trend toward the acceptance of poor math skills in this country’s students.
According to the donor, the Possibility Scholarship’s tuition benefit will help students with schoolwork. “Most people, when they have problems in life, it is usually financially originated. Remove that element and it makes people’s lives more stress free.”
The donor knows how important such aid can be. A Regents Scholar, he scrubbed kitchen equipment in the dining hall, was a resident assistant and also bartended at a local establishment in order to pay for his college education.
“It all starts with an education. That’s the foundation of any life,” he said. With his biased bequest, he will provide that foundation for countless students who follow in his footsteps at Oswego.
The alumnus said he wants to give back to Oswego because of the great experience he had at the college, and he wants to help others who might not otherwise be able to afford higher education to have the same great experience. “You have to give back, especially if Oswego’s been good to you,” he said.