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VanArsdale                 (David White photo)

$2.5 Million VanArsdale Gift is the Largest in SUNY Geneseo History; Will Fund College’s First Endowed Professorship

GENESEO, N.Y. – State University of New York at Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl announced Friday night, Sept. 25, 2009, that Charles L. “Bud” VanArsdale, former president of the Bank of Castile, has made a gift commitment of $2.5 million to endow the first professorship in the college’s 138-year history. The gift is the largest ever made to Geneseo. 

Speaking at a Geneseo Foundation recognition event, Dahl said the gift will fund the Charles L. “Bud” VanArsdale Endowed Chair for Entrepreneurship and Small Business in the School of Business. Geneseo will be one of only two SUNY four-year colleges with an endowed chair at this level. 

“We are enormously grateful for Bud’s extraordinary gift,” said Dahl. “It is truly a transformational moment in Geneseo’s history. The college is solidly woven in western New York’s business fabric and this professorship will greatly enhance our ability to reinforce the economic foundation of this region.”

The gift to Geneseo is the latest in a long history of support by VanArsdale and his late wife, Marjorie, whom everyone knew as “Mardi.” The VanArsdales established the Charles and Marjorie VanArsdale Scholarship for International Studies in 1999, which helps international students study at Geneseo. In 2008, the college awarded VanArsdale an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree for his life’s work in service to others.

“Bud’s gift is a benchmark for Geneseo in affirming the quality education students are receiving at the college,” said Jack Kramer, chair of the Geneseo Foundation Board and a 1976 Geneseo graduate. “His commitment strongly validates Geneseo’s stature as a nationally recognized liberal arts college. He has the heartfelt thanks of all members of our board.”

VanArsdale said he chose to support Geneseo because of the college’s many contributions to the region.

“Geneseo is one of the area’s largest employers, has outstanding academics and produces great alumni,” said VanArsdale. “I’m so impressed by Geneseo.  If I can help the college, I want to do it.”

VanArsdale called the gift an investment in students and the region.

“You don’t have to work for General Motors or Texaco to come up with a bright idea,” he said.  “Get these students enthused to work in small business.  That’s where the future of the country is.”

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher praised VanArsdale for his commitment to higher education.

“SUNY is very grateful for Bud’s generous gift, which I am certain will inspire other private supporters to invest in the College at Geneseo and SUNY," said Chancellor Zimpher.  "The gift supports a full-time faculty position, which will ensure a quality educational experience for Geneseo students now and in the future. These SUNY students will be ready as graduates to act as entrepreneurs and start small businesses, create more and better jobs, expand the tax base and improve the community's quality of life.  Congratulations to President Chris Dahl and his staff, and many thanks to Bud VanArsdale for continuing to add to his legacy of philanthropy at Geneseo," she said.

 VanArsdale served as director of SUNY Geneseo’s Small Business Development Center for several years after his tenure as president of the Bank of Castile.  He worked his way up to the bank presidency in 1979 after returning from World War II to work in the bank’s supply room. As president, he became the ultimate community banker, helping residents in Livingston County purchase homes and launch businesses.  

 VanArsdale was instrumental in relaunching American Rock Salt Company in Livingston County, which the previous owner closed in 1994 following a flood. VanArsdale heeded a plea to preserve the miners’ jobs from Joe Bucci, the company’s current vice chairman of production and general operations and a 1967 Geneseo graduate. VanArsdale responded by securing funding and American Rock Salt is now the largest rock salt producer in the United States, employing nearly 300 people.