New donation funds a multi-million dollar challenge

The Paul Smith’s College Board of Trustees and president, in consultation with longtime philanthropists Joan and Sandy Weill, have decided that the college will not appeal a ruling made earlier this month in the matter of a petition relative to a naming gift that the college had filed with the New York State Supreme Court.

“Despite our continued confidence in the merits of that proposal, we believe that an appeal would ultimately be counterproductive for students, alumni, faculty and staff,” said E. Philip Saunders, chairman of the Paul Smith’s College Board of Trustees.

“We are eternally grateful for the Weill’s significant offer of support and interest in the college,” said Cathy S. Dove, president of Paul Smith’s College. “Their generous offer made it clear how many people in our community are passionate about the college, and we believe that there’s nothing more important now than strengthening those bonds of support.”

Even though the court’s decision resulted in the college not being able to accept a $20 million naming gift from the Weill family, their offer and the ensuing community discussion has resulted in others stepping forward. The first major donation as a result of this effort has been received. A family with long-standing ties to the region has pledged a Coming Home Challenge gift to encourage financial support from a broader number of people.

Through Dec. 31, all donations to Paul Smith’s College will be matched on a variable scale from a $1-million challenge fund. The family’s pledge will be renewed annually through 2019 for a total of up to $5 million as long as the college community shows strong participation. Details can be found on the college’s website.

“We believe in the lasting impact that education can have on individuals and their families, the necessity of the work that is being done at Paul Smiths College for our environment and the importance of the college to the economic viability of the Adirondack region,” stated a representative of the donors, who wish to remain anonymous. “It’s our hope that this matching challenge will inspire all members of the Paul Smith’s College community – whether they are students, alumni, families, employees, Trustees or Adirondack neighbors – to come together and demonstrate the importance of the college, the individual significance of each student’s experience and our collective commitment to participating in the college’s long-term health.”

“Just as we experienced incredible generosity from Joan and Sandy Weill, we now have new donors stepping up to help in such a critical way,” Dove said. “We have a lot of hard work to do, but I believe in our community and know that we’re charting a strong future for Paul Smith’s College.”


At Paul Smith’s College, it’s about the experience. Paul Smith’s, which was founded in 1946, is the only bachelor’s degree-granting 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.