Alumni and faculty are leaving legacies for future generations of students through charitable estate planning.

By Carol Marcy

Geneseo donors like Kate DeForest ’93 and Scott Ray, associate professor emeritus of theatre and dance, have designated Geneseo as a beneficiary in their estate planning so they can support future generations of college students.

Their leadership gifts will benefit students like Josh DeBell ’21, who received the Alice Austin Memorial Scholarship this year, established in Austin’s will as a bequest before her death in 1999.

A double major in history and music, DeBell plans to pursue a graduate degree in musicology. He says scholarships freed up his time, allowing him to focus on academics and explore his interests. “The scholarships I’ve received allowed me to worry less about how to pay for things,” he says.

Named scholarships are an impactful way donors can leave a legacy. For DeForest, an active donor to Geneseo since she was a student and member of the SUNY Geneseo Alumni Association Board of Directors, an additional planned gift allows her to do something even more significant for students. DeForest created a trust and named Geneseo as a beneficiary in her estate, which will create an endowed scholarship for students demonstrating need. “Geneseo is a great, affordable college, but there are still people stretching to attend a state school,” she says. “I want students to have the same kind of fulfilling and transformative experience I did.”


Giving back is important to DeForest. The idea of inspiring younger adults, not yet near retirement, to think about benefiting a charity is something that she does in her fundraising role as assistant dean of development for the Boston University School of Social Work. She also educates others about the different ways to have an impact through planned gifts, such as naming your alma mater as an insurance beneficiary.

Ray recently established The Scott J. Ray Memorial Endowed Scholarships in the Arts through a blended gift that includes an outright gift and a bequest in his will. The first three scholarships have been awarded this year to students in theatre, dance and musical theatre.

Ray was inspired to give to Geneseo by his experience as a professor and by his parents, who were both educators. They established a library book endowment at the college where his father had served as president. Ray says his scholarships allow students more time to concentrate on their studies, particularly in the arts. “We expect a great deal of time from students for rehearsals and performances,” he says. “Anything that helps them have that time available is very good. I always planned to do something for Geneseo because I taught there for 33 years — something that would make my name continue on.”

To learn how to include Geneseo in your estate plan, visit or contact Christopher Smith, director of development, at or 585-245-5705.