SUNY Cobleskill Receives Unprecedented Scholarship Commitment Exceeding $1,000,000

The State University of New York (SUNY) Cobleskill is honored to announce that the Schopinsky Family Foundation has committed more than $1,000,000.00 over the next 10 years, to fund the “Schopinsky Scholars” scholarship program, the family’s second scholarship initiative at the College. Because the donors have endowed their gift through The Columbus Foundation, the scholarship is expected to continue in perpetuity.

This extraordinary grant is part of the Schopinsky Family’s on-going commitment to the College. In 2005, Gerald E. (Jerry) Schopinsky, a member of the Class of 1961, and his brother Richard, a member of the Class of 1960, donated what was at the time the largest gift ever received by the College. The endowment was used to establish the Schopinsky Family Scholarship Endowment.

During their years at SUNY Cobleskill, the two brothers pursued academic excellence while remaining actively engaged with the campus and local community, always seeking to make a meaningful difference. Those tenets became the requirements for the first scholarship program—recipients must be actively involved in community service, while maintaining a GPA of 3.0 of higher. Since inception, the bequest has funded well-over 50 scholarships for deserving students, many of whom have written letters thanking the Schopinsky brothers for their generosity.

Both Richard and Gerald were deeply moved by those letters—sometimes to tears. When they saw what a difference the one scholarship program was making in the lives of the recipients, the brothers knew they wanted to provide additional support.

“The letters—expressing sincere gratitude—I have received from these students have meant more to me than words can adequately convey. With the rising cost of a college education, the financial need is evident,” said Gerald. “Richard and I are so privileged to be in a position to help.”

The recent commitment by the Schopinsky Family Foundation is expected to result in annual contributions to the university in excess of $100,000, to fund the new “Schopinsky Scholars” scholarship program. The grants will be available for the 2015-2016 academic year.

The scholarship may be awarded to students pursuing either an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree, in any field of study or discipline offered by the university, so long as they meet certain criteria recommended by the donors. A student may receive the scholarship for up to four consecutive academic years provided that he or she continues to meet the eligibility requirements.

“We wanted to create a meaningful scholarship program, that would help the College attract the best and brightest,” said Richard. “Knowing that they can receive what is in effect a four year scholarship should encourage many high-achieving students to take a serious look at SUNY Cobleskill.”

“We want to help those students who are seriously interested in learning and growing,” said Gerald, “but Richard and I both know that the road forward is not always smooth and straight. We want to set high standards for this scholarship award, but not too high so as to eliminate some students with extenuating circumstances.”

Richard, Gerald, and their late brother, Tom, who also attended SUNY Cobleskill, were raised in a loving home with caring parents, who wanted to bear all the costs of sending their sons to college, but were financially unable to do so. Today, Richard and Gerald are exceedingly grateful for the opportunity they were given to attend SUNY Cobleskill and credit much of the success they have enjoyed throughout their lives, to the time they spent on the rolling, scenic campus.

“We learned discipline, focus, compassion. We learned how to learn,” recalls Richard. “We are so thankful that others cared about us and wanted to help. We want to repay that concern by helping students today, who need similar financial assistance, to make a college education and a meaningful life a reality.”

“And we hope other alums, those who received help, and those who are receiving help today, will do the same,” added Gerald. “We can never fully repay what others have done for us–the difference they have made in our lives–but we can always pay it forward by helping someone else. We should all aspire to such a legacy.”

In gratitude for the brother’s generosity, Dr. Debra H. Thatcher, Acting President of SUNY Cobleskill remarked, “The Schopinsky Family understands that a college education opens doors and fulfills dreams. The SUNY Cobleskill campus community is immensely grateful for their selflessness and support.”

The Schopinsky Family Foundation is dedicated to helping young people reach their full potential through quality higher education, effective career training and counseling. Gerald retired from Abbott Laboratories and Richard retired from Mobil Chemical and Huntsman Packaging, both after long and fulfilling careers. Through the years, both brothers have had the honor of helping many young people develop the personal and professional skills needed for success in their vocations and in their lives. They look forward to extending that commitment through their family’s foundation.

For further information regarding this scholarship, please contact the Office of College Advancement at 518-255-5524.