Southern Vermont College Receives More than $2 Million from Donors Over the Last Four Months - Funding will help students, faculty and staff

August 19, 2013

Southern Vermont College has received more than $2 million in gifts in the 100 days that will support scholarships, resources for faculty and staff, and give the campus a new landmark entrance and gate. The donations of cash and property have been given by three members of the College’s Board of Trustees, as well as a charitable fund, three charitable trusts and a new donor.

The largest gift, indeed the largest in the College’s history, is $1.225 million – $1.0 million via the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund and $225,000 through a charitable trust, at the recommendation of an anonymous donor. These funds will support scholarships and financial aid for the Mountaineer Scholars, a program designed for first-generation and low-income college students.

SVC alumnus Ira Wagner and his wife, Marcia, of Bethesda, Md., have purchased the Gate House located at the entrance to the campus. It will be renovated over the coming year and then leased to SVC for its use at a nominal cost. With this purchase, the Gate House, located at 897 Monument Avenue in Bennington, is reunited with the other buildings comprising the Edward Everett estate dating back to 1911. Plans for the building are still in development. One consideration is utilizing the Gate House as a new welcome center for prospective students and families, community members, and visitors to town interested in learning more about the College. The value of the Gate House including improvements is estimated to be in excess of $400,000.

This generous donation is in addition to the gift of $250,000 from the Wagners in April. Ira Wagner, Class of ’83 and Chair of the Finance Committee of the College’s Board of Trustees, has been a continued supporter of SVC’s educational mission for many years.

“Marcia and I deeply believe in the mission of SVC serving primarily first-generation students as exemplified by their Mountaineer Scholars Program,” explained Wagner. “SVC is committed to seeing its students succeed in college and preparing them for success afterward, and I know that the College will continue graduating students with thriving careers in the years to come.” 

Wagner is President, European Capital Financial Services, a subsidiary of American Capital Ltd.

Chair of the SVC Board of Trustees Deborah Wiley has donated $175,000 in support of SVC’s continued growth and achievements. “My belief in the mission of SVC and the dedication of its community in the successes they have achieved is the motivation for my donation,” Wiley said. Wiley is Chair of the Wiley Foundation.

Two other gifts totaling $35,000 from SVC Trustee John Baackes, President of AmeriHealth Medicare Plans, Philadelphia, PA, and a new first-time donor, will also be utilized to support student programs. SVC also received an additional gift of $80,000 from the Milton & Dorothy Sarnoff Raymond and Alice Shaver foundations, both longtime supporters of the College. These new monies will support SVC’s programs, including international travel for academic programs for students and faculty.

“These donations will support the invaluable programs SVC provides, such as our new Veterans’ Scholar Program, as well as needed resources for faculty and staff development,” explained Karen Gross, President of SVC. “SVC is committed to preparing our students for engaged and prosperous lives well after graduation. I am grateful to our generous trustees and other supporters for their continued belief in SVC and its mission.”

Gross continued, “This news is a wonderful way to begin this upcoming academic year at SVC. We are adding additional programs, providing support for our existing and new highly experienced faculty and staff, changing and expanding our physical footprint, and launching highly competitive athletic teams. We are proud that all of our new efforts will provide our current and prospective students with immediate and long-lasting benefits. I am proud of our progress and eager to welcome our returning and new students to campus in less than a month.”

SVC has announced a number of new developments in recent months. SVC initiated several new student programs, including a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree, the Veterans’ Scholar Program that will welcome its first cohort of veterans from US armed forces in January 2014, and a partnership with Glens Falls Hospital to provide new clinical opportunities for radiologic technology students. New faculty and staff have been welcomed including Renee Merges, former Assistant District Attorney of Albany County, NY, who will lead the criminal justice program; Claire Wurmfeld who joined the College as the new COO/CFO; and Dan Englestad who is the new head coach of SVC’s men’s basketball team and who, with player-assistant coaches, ran a successful basketball camp on campus this summer. In addition, SVC is beginning renovations on the Everett Theatre and the on-campus Jazzman’s Café.