PAUL SMITHS - Philanthropist Joan H. Weill will donate $1 million to Paul Smith's College for scholarships.
Audience members gave a standing ovation when college President John Mills announced the donation at the end of the college's graduation ceremony, held Saturday on the college's campus, in which Weill was the featured guest speaker.
The donation adds to the college's endowment, which stood at $19.3 million before the gift, according to a press release. The first scholarships under the $1 million endowment will be awarded for the fall 2013 semester.
Graduates wait to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas during the Paul Smith’s College commencement ceremonies held Saturday at the college’s campus.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Weill, a former president of the college's board of trustees and wife of former Citibank CEO Sandy Weill, has already been generous to Paul Smith's, with two major buildings on campus bearing her name.
But Mills said when introducing Weill during the graduation ceremony that her commitment to the school goes beyond the buildings. She's already contributed millions of dollars and countless hours to the institution, according to the college.
"The history of Joan and Sandy has been transformational for the institution," Mills told the Enterprise after the ceremony. "Their commitment is to help our students. As you know, student loans and student debt has become an issue, and they've stepped forward."
Student Government Association Awards
Staff: Courtney Bringley
Adviser: Russell DeFonce
Faculty: Bob Seidenstein
2012 Special Awards
Student Affairs Award: Morgan Mary Horwatt
Alumni Award: Evan L. Cook
Tokyo Alumni Award: Karen Kitada
President's Award for a sophomore: Karen Kitada
President's Award for a senior: Bethany Angeline Boyce
Paul Smith's College Outstanding Graduate Award for a sophomore: Harrison F. Turk
Paul Smith's College Outstanding Graduate Award for a senior: Mary Morgan Horwatt
In her speech, Weill told students how she was the first person in her family to get a college degree.
She also shared a number of lessons she learned from her mother, who died recently at 100-and-a-half years old. She encouraged students to try to be decisive, to be honest and to trust in people, to be passionate about their work, to set clear goals for themselves and to work on their important relationships, stressing the importance of face-to-face communication. She told the students how she and her husband of 57 years will have "chicken dinners," in which they have dinner and a discussion, whenever they have to make a big decision.
Weill stressed that students should get involved in their communities.
"Be involved and live in the moment - right now," Weill told the students.
She also told students to not be afraid of change because it can be good.
"Change is stimulating and exciting," Weill said.
She encouraged them to try things, even if they might fail. She told the story of when she and her husband were invited to the home of former President Gerald Ford in Vail, Colo., and her hair dryer blew out all the electrical circuits in the house, but afterward they were invited back.
"Learn by mistakes," Weill said. "Don't let them stop you."
Weill told the students she was proud of all of them, and of her relationship with Paul Smith's.
About 250 people walked in the ceremony Saturday in the college's 65th graduating class.
Weill also chairs the Alvin Ailey American Dance Foundation and the Women's Health Symposium at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, co-chairs the advisory committee of the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, and is honorary board member and president emeritus of Citymeals-on-Wheels.