Alum leads $1M endowment with major matching gift

A $1 million campaign to endow a position for an internationally recognized climate expert at Paul Smith's College has been staked with a major matching gift.

Caroline Lussi, a 1960 graduate of Paul Smith's and a former college trustee, has offered a matching challenge of up to $500,000 to establish the college's first Endowed Chair in Lake Ecology and Paleocology, the first recipient of which will be Curt Stager.

Lussi has pledged $500,000 if the college can raise an additional $500,000. More than $250,000 has been contributed so far. Both Paul Smith's College and the Adirondack Foundation are accepting donations.

Lussi's family owns and operates several businesses in Lake Placid, including the Crowne Plaza Resort, the Lake Placid Club and Lake Placid Marina. The family also co-owns the Hampton Inn & Suites in Lake Placid with business partner Phil Saunders.

After spending several years as a competitive downhill ski racer, Lussi returned to Lake Placid as a young woman to pursue an education close to home and chose Paul Smith's College.

"The faculty there pushed me like crazy to do more," Lussi said. "I've always appreciated the professors because they helped me improve my thought process."

"Dr. Stager is an absolute treasure," she added. "Other universities have tried to recruit him, but he loves the Adirondacks and Paul Smith's College. He's the type of professor who asks for more from his students. When it came time for me to give back, I wanted to do something to make the college even better. An endowed chair will allow Dr. Stager's work to continue regardless of whether grant money is available. The more the endowment grows, the more he can do with his students and his research. Paul Smith's College should be recognized as having a leading role when it comes to water quality issues and the environment. We have an excellent professor right here in our backyard."

John W. Mills, president of Paul Smith's College, said Stager's commitment to undergraduate education makes him particularly deserving.

"One of the things that makes a Paul Smith's education special is the individual attention our students receive from faculty members who are invested in their success," he said. "Curt Stager is living proof of that, and we're very fortunate to have him here."

Stager, a professor of natural science, has taught at Paul Smith's since 1987. His dedication to undergraduate education led to his selection as 2013 New York Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

"This endowed chair will help us to address timely and important questions about the unique landscape of the Adirondack Park, its residents, and its climate at a time when change is making answers to those questions more valuable than ever," Stager said. "The 3,000 lakes and ponds in the Adirondack Park are not only a key part of the history of the North Country - they also preserve much of that history, as well. This rich archive, dating back centuries to millennia, is written not in paper and ink but in layers of fossil-rich mud on the lake floors. As a faculty member at Paul Smith's for more than 25 years, I've been fortunate to be able to use sediment coring techniques with my students and with colleagues from all over North America to study what such lakes may have to teach us."

Stager's research on ancient climate patterns has helped inform the discussion of what direction modern climate change may take. His 2011 book on the subject, "Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth," received international attention. His voice can be heard every Thursday morning on North Country Public Radio's "Natural Selections."

For information on how to give, contact Cali Brooks, executive director of Adirondack Foundation, at (518) 523-9904, or Ray Agnew, vice president for college advancement at Paul Smith's College, at (518) 327-6317.

About Adirondack Foundation

Adirondack Foundation, founded in 1997 as Adirondack Community Trust, is a community foundation serving the Adirondack region of northeastern New York. Adirondack Foundation inspires donors, builds partnerships and mobilizes resources to support the needs of communities, nonprofits and individuals. Adirondack Foundation is the largest private grantmaker in the Adirondack region, focusing on five broad program areas: education, culture, human well-being, environment and community vitality. Adirondack Foundation works proactively to identify current and emerging issues in three key areas – community vitality, connectivity and healthy environment – and develops the resources to address them. Adirondack Foundation maintains Adirondack Gives, a crowdfunding website for Adirondack region nonprofits. Visit www.adirondackgives.org. For more information about Adirondack Foundation, call (518) 523-9904.

About Paul Smith's College

At Paul Smith's College, it's about the experience. We are the only four-year institution of higher education in the Adirondacks. Our programs, in fields including hospitality, culinary arts, forestry, natural resources, entrepreneurship and the sciences, draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. For more information: www.paulsmiths.edu.

 
 
 

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