PAUL SMITHS - 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. "
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.