President Christopher Dahl announced Friday night that Charles L. "Bud" VanArsdale, former president of the Bank of Castile, has made a gift commitment of $2.5 million to endow the first professorship in the college's 138-year history. The gift is the largest ever made to Geneseo.
Speaking at a Geneseo Foundation recognition event, Dahl said the gift will fund the Charles L. "Bud" VanArsdale Endowed Chair for Entrepreneurship and Small Business in the School of Business. Geneseo will be one of only two SUNY four-year colleges with an endowed chair at this level.
"We are enormously grateful for Bud's extraordinary gift," said Dahl. "It is truly a transformational moment in Geneseo's history. The college is solidly woven in western New York's business fabric and this professorship will greatly enhance our ability to reinforce the economic foundation of this region."
"VanArsdale's generous gift will provide funding for a new faculty position which will specialize in entrepreneurship and new business development," said Michael Schinski, interim dean of the School of Business. "This will enable the School of Business to attract top level faculty talent and offer more classes in the entrepreneurial area."
Schinski said he is looking forward to the opportunities the gift will provide. "This will be of particular benefit to our students interested in someday starting their own businesses."
The gift to Geneseo is the latest in a long history of support by VanArsdale and his late wife, Marjorie, whom everyone knew as "Mardi." The VanArsdales established the Charles and Marjorie VanArsdale Scholarship for International Studies in 1999, which helps international students study at Geneseo. In 2008, the college awarded VanArsdale an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree for his life's work in service to others.
VanArsdale said he chose to support Geneseo because of the college's many contributions to the region.
"Geneseo is one of the area's largest employers, has outstanding academics and produces great alumni," said VanArsdale. "I'm so impressed by Geneseo. If I can help the college, I want to do it."
VanArsdale called the gift an investment in students and the region.
"You don't have to work for General Motors or Texaco to come up with a bright idea," he said. "Get these students enthused to work in small business. That's where the future of the country is."
VanArsdale was instrumental in relaunching American Rock Salt Company in Livingston County, which the previous owner closed in 1994 following a flood. VanArsdale heeded a plea to preserve the miners' jobs from Joe Bucci, the company's current vice chairman of production and general operations and a 1967 Geneseo graduate. VanArsdale responded by securing funding and American Rock Salt is now the largest rock salt producer in the United States, employing nearly 300 people.
Additional reporting for this article was provided by Asst. News Editor Jesse Goldberg.