Upstate News

May 11, 2007
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

$3.2 million matching gift campaign to benefit scholarships, patient care, research

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — SUNY Upstate Medical University has announced the launch of a $3.2 million matching gift campaign aimed at strengthening the university’s scholarship opportunities, patient care and research initiatives.

Under the campaign, the university will seek to raise $1.6 million from donors, while pledging to match contributions dollar for dollar, bringing the total amount of the campaign to $3.2 million. “This campaign is a partnership with the community,” said David R. Smith, M.D., president of SUNY Upstate Medical University.

A goal of the campaign is to enhance the university’s scholarship support for students. “The immediate future shows that we face a significant shortage of trained healthcare professionals from physicians to nurses to technicians,” Smith said. “It is imperative that institutions, such as SUNY Upstate, that are in a position to educate and train individuals in the health professions, make every attempt to remove the financial barriers to success and improve access to education for all.

“Just as we invest in bricks and mortar, we must also invest in students,” Smith said.

The matching gift campaign has the potential to significantly enhance SUNY Upstate’s scholarship offerings. The university awards on average about $1.08 million in annually, but that is below the average $2.66 million in annual scholarship support offered by other public medical schools. Additional scholarship support will also lessen the debt burden that many students face upon graduation. Students who attend upper division schools like SUNY Upstate often carry a sizeable debt load from their undergraduate institution.

“We must create opportunities for all who have the skills and desire to get an education in the health professions,” said Smith, noting that investing in students who upon graduation will embark on careers that improve the human condition is money well spent. “Our students will be the doctors, nurses and technicians who help keep us healthy or care for us when we are ill. There is an immediate return on our investment when supporting scholarships for these students.”

Vincent J. Kuss, executive director of medical alumni relations and giving, said securing additional scholarship support benefits the university’s greatest asset—its students. “With our alumni support, we will be able to help our students receive an outstanding education which prepares them for a career of service, inquiry and caring,” he said.

Alicia Fereday Shiland, alumni director of the colleges of Nursing and Health Professions, said additional scholarship support for students is vital. “Many of the students enrolled in the colleges of Nursing and Health Professions are juggling work and family life,” she said. “With this extra scholarship support, students may not have to work an extra shift to pay for tuition or books, which might give them free time to spend studying or with their families—and that’s time well spent.”

Master’s degree students in the College of Graduate Studies also will benefit from the growth in scholarship support. The college may also increase stipends for doctoral students to create more competitive aid packages that would benefit the recruitment of these students.

The special feature of this campaign is its unique matching gift element. Every contribution that meets a particular giving level will be matched dollar for dollar by the university. Thus a $1,000 contribution will generate a $1,000 match by the university, and a $150,000 contribution will gain a $150,000 match to realize a total of $300,000 in support.

“This matching gift program will offer a challenge incentive for large donations and stimulate first-time gifts,” said Eileen Pezzi, SUNY Upstate vice president for development and executive director of the Upstate Medical University Foundation. “This campaign will make contributions worth twice as much and provide twice the benefit.”

Reallocating some funding priorities, coupled with support from the Upstate Medical University Foundation and the university’s alumni associations, has enabled the university to create a $1.6 million campaign fund from which to provide the matching gifts.

In addition to scholarships, the matching gift campaign also will benefit the Golisano Children’s Hospital, and various patient care areas, including pediatric cancers and blood disorders, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, adult cancers, pediatric surgery and the Clark Burn Center.

The campaign will match gifts to dozens of endowments that benefit research into breast, lung and pancreatic cancers, Shprintzen’s syndrome, diabetes and diseases of the eye.

“Every aspect of our mission, whether it’s education, patient care or research can be supported with this wide?ranging campaign,” Pezzi said.

Here’s how the matching gift campaign works:

? To be eligible for matching dollars from the university, contributions must be made to existing endowments or be earmarked to start new endowments. Endowments are funds created to earn a return of income of which a percentage is used yearly for a specific purpose, as in this case for scholarships, patient care and research.

? While any amount can be contributed to the campaign, the dollar match is initiated at certain levels depending on the fund being supported. For example, matching gift levels for College of Nursing Scholarships start at $250, while matching gift levels to support an existing endowment for patient care or research start at $5,000. The maximum gift eligible for matching funds is $150,000.

The campaign will conclude once the $1.6 million fund match has been met, but university officials are considering making a matching gift campaign a regular giving option.

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