On Oct. 13, over 300 alumni, faculty, parents and friends attended a fundraiser at the Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester, the first of a series of 13 regional events for the Shaping Lives of Purpose campaign.
"I think it's great," said Tanya Woldbeck Gesek, a Geneseo graduate of ‘93. "We're a special school, it's time we got out there … We're worth it."
"Geneseo was a great experience for me and my daughter," said Martha Peterman, a 1980 alumna whose daughter also attended Geneseo. "I'm very pleased she followed in my footsteps." Peterman is also a member of the Geneseo Alumni Regional Committee of Syracuse.
The evening began with an hour-long reception for attendees to reconnect and enjoy complimentary hors d'oeuvres and drinks.
"I think it's great … [It's] about time," said Christopher Zeltmann ‘99. "We're reaching out across the nation and reconnecting alumni."
A presentation followed, explaining the purpose of the campaign and stressing the importance of private funding at Geneseo. $16.8 million of the desired $22 – 25 million has already been raised.
"We celebrate a new era in the life of Geneseo," said Ed Pettinella, a 1973 alumnus and the master of ceremonies.
Although Geneseo's growing reputation as an academic institution is a strong point of argument for the school, speakers stressed the meaning of relationships that students are able to create in their time at Geneseo.
"Geneseo's key defining attribute … is that it is a place where people care for each other," said President Christopher Dahl. "There is something about this college that brings together people who forge meaningful relationships that lead to new perspectives and new understandings of the world."
"We all share something in common," said Frank Vafier, graduate of '74 and campaign chair. "We became who we are because of our Geneseo experience."
"This is our collective moment to step forward, stake a claim, and take ownership of Geneseo's present and future," Vafier said. "Geneseo is our college."
Professor Bill Cook discussed the importance of private funding in order for the sense of community to survive, and for students who might not have the financial means or the academic record to take advantage of the opportunities at Geneseo.
"Not everybody is a superstar," Cook said. "At Geneseo we care about everyone … [We] wanted you to be all that you could be."
According to professor Joanna Kirk, student support is going to be just as important as alumni donations; it will send a message to the government.
"Any show of support from students, anything that shows they believe in the Geneseo experience, will help," Kirk said.
Leaders are optimistic that they will be able to reach the $22 – 25 million goal and thankful for the support they've already received.
"Geneseo, led by its alumni and parents, has chosen actively to shape its own future," Dahl said. "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of our students, our faculty and our whole college community."