Ellen Leverich ’90 returned to her alma mater to increase individual and private support for Geneseo.
By Carol Marcy
As an alum leading philanthropic efforts for the College, Ellen Leverich ’90, vice president for college advancement and executive director of the Geneseo Foundation, knows what makes Geneseo — Geneseo.
“Geneseo is a place that nurtures community and connections and inspires an understanding of responsibility to self and the world,” says Leverich. “We are strong individuals and as a community are even stronger: willing to make sacrifices, become leaders, and roll up our sleeves to make changes for good.”
Leverich returned to her roots in February 2020 to make a difference for the College. Shortly after she started her new role, she faced the COVID-19 pandemic and its complex and new challenges. She has drawn on her nearly 30 years of experience in higher education and nonprofit philanthropy, most recently as associate vice president at Bloomsburg University Foundation in Bloomsburg, Penn., and director of development at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy in Richmond, Va.
Leverich shares with us challenges, goals and triumphs in efforts to ensure the success of Geneseo and future generations of students.
Q: What has changed most on campus since you were a student? What has stayed the same?
A: “It feels very familiar to be back on campus. The dorms, academic buildings and College Union are largely the same, and Main Street is pretty similar. Aunt Cookie’s, where I worked my junior year, is still open, and so is the Idle Hour and Kelly’s. On campus, the biggest change is represented by the Integrated Science Center, built in 2016.
Red Jacket Dining Hall’s total renovation in 2018 received national recognition for its sustainability-minded design and is definitely a big change. During its renovation, 31 percent of all materials used were recycled, and more than 65 percent of all waste generated during construction was recycled.
Most importantly, though, the spirit of Geneseo has not changed. The students, faculty and staff still work together in an earnest effort to contribute to the common good and make our world better. During the past year of the pandemic these efforts were clear, from the leadership of Geneseo First Responders spearheading the COVID testing initiative to the incredibly creative and nimble response of faculty converting in-person course content to digital content.”
Q: What do you hope to accomplish for the College?
A: “It’s my goal to increase private support for our students, faculty and campus. As a SUNY college, Geneseo has historically relied on the State of New York for much of its funding. With significant reductions in state allocations, we need private resources — philanthropic gifts — to ensure that Geneseo maintains its reputation of excellence. I also aim to strengthen the power of the Geneseo network and increase alumni involvement with students in the classroom, as mentors and through internships.”
Q: What are some of the ways Geneseo alumni and friends make a positive impact?
A: “Geneseo has always been dependent on alums and friends working in support of our mission. Supporting the College with their time, talent and treasure is key. That includes volunteerism, mentorship through our career program and financial support of our students and programs. Our career advisor network connects alumni with students for career conversations, resume reviews and mock interviews. As we plan for Geneseo’s 150th anniversary celebration this fall, there will be opportunities for alums and friends to become involved. Last year, we had more than 1,000 alums participate in the Alumni Book Club, Campus Chats and other Geneseo online connections and opportunities.”
Q: What are the College’s most important philanthropic needs?
A: “Scholarship support for students has never been more important. Making the Geneseo experience accessible to all qualified students is our top priority. It is also important to acknowledge that we are operating in an ever-changing, unpredictable landscape. Changing demographics, the COVID-19 pandemic and roller coasters of the New York State budget create a seemingly untenable financial planning landscape. Gifts to the general fund or “greatest needs” play a critical role by helping the College respond to unanticipated challenges and opportunities.”
You can support future Geneseo students. Every donation, no matter the size, makes an impact. Giving opportunities also include leaving a legacy by making an endowed gift through a named scholarship or program fund. Named endowments ensure that support is available for generations of students and secures the future of Geneseo in perpetuity. Make a contribution at go.geneseo.edu/give. For more information about endowments, contact Ellen Leverich at email@example.com or 585-245-5626.