Barbara and Roland Cook '50 enjoy the sights at Yosemite National Park in California.
Retirement gifts tend to be something you can hang on the wall, wear on your wrist, or stand on the mantel. Recently, however, Roland Cook, a 1950 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, received a retirement gift of a different kind. An endowed Syracuse University scholarship was created in his name.
Funds for the Roland and Barbara Cook Scholarship for Teacher Education were raised by the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO) from its member organizations. NADCO is the trade association for a group of independent and nonprofit financing companies that make loans guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. For the past 13 years, Roland Cook was the fiscal agent for NADCO’s government-supported sister organization, Development Company Funding Corporation (DCFC), where he managed a highly detailed process to provide borrowers with funds.
Cook says he hadn’t thought much about his alma mater until retirement loomed. “The chair of the NADCO Past Presidents, Barbara Vohryzek, offered to do something charitable for my retirement,” says Cook, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. “I suggestey the scholarship at Syracuse, and Barbara looked into the details with the School of Education’s development director.”
While the gift itself was no surprise at his April retirement party in Hilton Head, South Carolina,
the amount was: $88,500. The Cooks contributed another $2,000, matched by his former employer Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association), making the gift the School of Education’s second-largest endowed scholarship.
Cook belongs to the generation that came to Syracuse on the G.I. Bill, though his arrival here was circumstantial, as he tells it. Like many returning servicemen, Cook was assessed for his job potential. He drove from his hometown of Cortland, New York, to the Syracuse offices of the Veterans Administration for testing. “Afterward, they told me to walk over to the campus and see what I thought,” says Cook, who hadn’t considered attending college.
He spent the first two years of his enrollment at Endicott College, an extension of the University. As on main campus, servicemen and their families lived in Quonset huts, and a paucity of classrooms led to some makeshift arrangements. “We took over an abandoned skating rink, ran wire overhead, and hung canvas to separate the rooms,” he says. “You could still hear what was going on in the neighboring rooms, so you got a wide education.”
Cook spent 30 years with the U.S. Treasury Department, and then worked for Fannie Mae for a stint before joining DCFC. Cook helped design the funding process he managed, channeling $10 billion in loans backed by the Small Business Administration to promote business expansion that contributed to the creation of more than a half-million U.S. jobs.
“By placing our names on this scholarship,” Cook says, “NADCO gave us something enduring and alive, a charitable fund that will contribute to society, and a way and a reason to stay connected with an organization and people I’ve long admired.”
Winning the marathon. Sinking a three-pointer. A hat trick. A hole in one. The superlatives of sports achievement all serve as perfect metaphors for the success of the Student Athlete Fund (SAF).
The fund was established to raise $10 million to fund scholarships and academic support for student athletes. Since then, fund-raisers have continually raised the bar (see, another sports metaphor) to meet donor interest and University need, and the SAF has surpassed $17 million. “Every penny goes to endowment,” says Paul Norcross, senior director of development for athletics. “About 60 percent of our funding comes in gifts and pledges; the rest is from deferred gifts like life insurance and bequests.”
While deferred gifts don’t provide money now, they help the University plan ahead. “We can recognize people now for these major commitments, and those same people then become more involved in supporting us,” Norcross says.
The latest scholarship for student athletes came from parent Robert Burton, whose son Joe is in his third year with the football team. Burton’s $300,000 gift funds the Robert G. Burton Endowed Football Scholarship, to be awarded each year to a School of Management student on the football team.
Now a successful businessman known for his skill at turning around ailing companies, Burton was a college football player who played briefly in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills before knee injuries ended his athletic career. Academics gave him skills and knowledge to launch his alternate career plan. “Our level of contribution to the football program is a direct reflection on what a terrific job the coach is doing,” says Burton. “Universities need help supporting their student athletes, and I wanted to give to a program I believe in.”
Other major donors to the Student Athlete Fund include: ($1 million and above) Michael Bill ’58, George R. Iocolano ’47 with the late William Petty ’46, and SAF chair Joseph O. Lampe ’53, G’55 and Shawn Lampe; ($500,000 and above) John Echeandia Font ’53, G’54, Ann Stevenson ’52 and Milton Stevenson ’53, Linda Eng ’73 and Mark Winter ’73, and an anonymous donor; and ($300,000 and above) W. Carroll Coyne ’54, G’57, Charles C. Heck ’61, and Joseph E.
“When the campaign started, the consensus was that we would be fortunate to reach $10 million by the end of 2000,” says Lampe, who also chairs the SU Board of Trustees. “Thanks to Paul Norcross and Director of Athletics Jake Crouthamel, we passed that goal two-and-a-half years ago. As a result of adding vice-chairs David Flaum ’75, Mark Winter, and Robert Street ’54 to the effort, we raised our goal to a minimum of $20 million. With the present staff and the continued generosity of our alumni and friends, I’m confident we will reach that plateau.”