For Immediate Release — Friday, June 24, 2005
Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
Van E. Quaal, Retired SUNY Geneseo Administrator, Dies at 80
GENESEO, N.Y. — Van Earl Quaal, vice president emeritus for business affairs and finance at the State University of New York at Geneseo who oversaw the college's period of major expansion, died June 22 in Clifton Park, N.Y. He was 80.
A native of Ishpeming, Mich., Quaal was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star during his service in Europe as a U.S. Army sergeant during World War II. He served in the 102nd Division/104th Infantry from 1943 to 1946 and was director of the 405th Infantry Regimental Band, a 55-member band that performed in parades in France. Quaal, who loved classical music, played the piano and woodwinds.
Van Quaal came to Geneseo in January 1966, after serving for nine years as associate dean of instruction for SUNY College at Buffalo. Geneseo President Robert W. MacVittie, who had worked with Quaal in Buffalo, brought Van Quaal to Geneseo to serve as the college's director of business affairs. In 1970, Quaal was promoted to vice president for business affairs and finance, a position he held until he retired in 1985.
Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl said Quaal helped shape the college into what it is today. On Thursday, Dahl ordered the college's flags be lowered to half-staff in memory of Quaal.
"In his 19 years of service, Van left an indelible mark on our college. If Bob MacVittie was the master builder of SUNY Geneseo, Van was certainly the main architect," said Dahl. "The campus we know today took shape under his guidance. He was an indefatigable administrator who cared deeply for the college and its employees. We are deeply saddened by this loss."
Before entering the field of higher education, Quaal worked as a staff announcer at a commercial radio station, in his family's furniture store in his hometown, with a concert artist's booking agency and for the J.C. Penny department stores. He also set up displays for the National Ski Museum, located in his hometown.
In his early career, Quaal worked as a teacher in the Stephenson, Mich., public schools and as a member of the Research Committee of the Michigan Education Association. He then worked as an assistant dean in the College of Education at Wayne State University in Detroit from 1953-57.
At Geneseo, Quaal managed an annual operating budget exceeding $13 million and a staff of more than 750 employees in areas ranging from purchasing and research grants to facilities planning and maintenance to campus security. In addition, he worked closely with student affairs and academic divisions on matters such as student billings, residence hall repairs and faculty expenses.
Quaal was a part of the SUNY system throughout much of its rapid growth in the 1950s and '60s. During his tenure at Geneseo, Quaal was responsible for the financial and business operations of the college and oversaw the construction of the residence halls and most of the academic buildings that make up Geneseo today — some 30 buildings in all.
Quaal received his doctorate in the administration of higher education in 1959 from Wayne State University, his master's in history in 1952 from the University of Michigan and his bachelor's in 1950 in business administration from Northern Michigan University.
Dr. Kenneth H. Levison, vice president for administration at Geneseo, said his predecessor was the consummate professional, always keeping a positive attitude while guiding the college through its major growth and financially challenging times.
"One could not have hoped for a better colleague and friend. He had established a strong organization before he left, was respected universally by faculty, staff and the community, and was always willing to give advice, when called upon," said Levison. "His ever-present sense of humor, sly wit and good spirits buoyed us all. Van knew every one of his employees and was always ready to chip in to help, whether it be driving a snowplow during bad snowstorms or coming to campus in the middle of the night to let some one into an office. He guided the college through a tremendous period of growth and through difficult fiscal times with a steady hand. He was one of a kind and will be missed."
In 1997, the college established the Gloria and Van Quaal Outstanding Quality Service Award through an endowment with the Geneseo Foundation in honor of the Quaals' many years of devoted service to the college and Geneseo community. The Quaals were active members of the Rotary Club of Geneseo and the Geneseo Presbyterian Church. When they moved, they became members of the Shenendehowa United Methodist Church in Clifton Park.
In addition to his wife, Gloria, to whom he was married for 58 years, Quaal is survived by two sons, David (Karen), of Burnt Hills, N.Y., and Randell J. (Susan) of Arnold, Md.; and four grandchildren, Erik, Elizabeth, Ryan and Jacqueline.
Calling hours will be held from noon to 2 p.m., followed by a funeral service at 2 p.m., Sunday, June 26, at the Gordon C. Emerick Funeral Home, 1550 Route 9, Clifton Park, N.Y. 12065. Memorials may be made to the Gloria and Van Quaal Outstanding Quality Service Award, c/o the Geneseo Foundation, SUNY Geneseo, Erwin 202, 1 College Circle, Geneseo, N.Y. 14454.