POTSDAM, NY (05/04/2018) The State University of New York at Potsdam officially dedicated the College's academic hub as the Lougheed Learning Commons in an emotional ceremony this afternoon.
The SUNY Potsdam campus community gathered along with invited guests to honor Donald (Hon. '54) and Kathryn Kofoed Lougheed '54, who have made transformational gifts to support applied learning at the College. The Lougheeds were visibly choked up as they shared their appreciation, upon receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.
"I'm reminded of a story that I used to read with my children, 'The Little Engine That Could.' Well, we were fortunate in our lives that we 'could,'" Kathy Lougheed said. "I'm speechless. I never thought in college that it would turn out like this! … It's just a wonderful privilege to do something like this and help so many young people. We are blessed."
The Lougheeds have pledged a historic gift commitment of $5.25 million to support applied learning initiatives at SUNY Potsdam -- the largest donation the College has ever received.
Don Lougheed jokingly chided his wife as he took to the podium, saying "It's all your fault." He reflected that what has been most touching for him and his wife has been to meet the professors and students and hear about the projects that they have planned, and the educational experiences that will be made possible, thanks to their gifts.
"Thank you to the faculty. You are going to make it happen," Don said, before offering -- only half-jokingly -- to hug everyone there.
Large new contemporary signs have been posted on both sides of the building, reflecting its new name and the changing focus of the facility, as it has become over the years an academic crossroads for the campus.
"Kathy and Don, as the largest donors in our College's history, not only is the size of your gift historic, but its impact -- your impact -- is historic. You are literally changing the landscape of our campus and the academic offerings we are able to provide. With this gift, you are writing the next chapter in SUNY Potsdam's history, as we chart our third century," said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Bette Bergeron.
The Lougheeds' family and friends traveled to campus for the dedication ceremony. New York State Assemblywoman Addie Jenne and State Assemblyman Marc Butler '74 also joined in the festivities. SUNY Associate Provost Carey Hatch also attended, as did a number of alumni, faculty, students and community members.
The Frederick W. Crumb Memorial Library, housed within the building, will maintain its name and lasting legacy. In addition to Crumb Library and the Lougheed Center for Applied Learning, the Lougheed Learning Commons is also home to the Center for Creative Instruction, the College Makerspace, the Honors Lounge and Minerva's Café.
"Today, Kathy and Don are building upon a legacy started nearly 70 years ago by Dr. Frederick W. Crumb, the College's eighth and longest-serving president. Many recall Dr. Crumb's student-centered philosophy, built upon his faith that the students would guide the institution," President Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg said. "Dr. Crumb's son, Peter [Crumb '64], who joins us this afternoon, said it best. He shared that the establishment of the Lougheed Learning Commons reflects his father's philosophy -- that the library should be the heart of campus, and that administrators should allow the students to show them what they need."
The Center for Applied Learning -- located on the first floor of the facility -- was officially renamed as the Donald and Kathryn Lougheed Center for Applied Learning during the ceremony, also in honor of the donors' generous support.
The Lougheeds' new gift includes $3.12 million in an outright cash donation, plus a $2.13 million bequest, which has been codified in their estate plans. The gift will be used to support faculty and staff activities that improve their ability to facilitate student participation in high impact and applied learning activities. Funds will also be used to directly support students' involvement in applied learning activities, such as internships, study abroad, research, field experiences, creative projects, service learning and entrepreneurship.
The new gift commitment is in addition to the Lougheeds' previous giving to the College. Prior to their applied learning gift, they have donated a total of $2.3 million in support of scholarships and the LoKo Arts Festival, which they established in 2012.
"Kathy and Don Lougheed have raised the bar with their generosity," said Potsdam College Foundation Board President Lynne Boles '74. "Not only is this gift the largest in College history, but the Lougheeds' lifetime giving now exceeds $7.4 million! While the numbers are certainly exciting, I think I speak for my fellow trustees when I say that to be able to see these gifts in action is one of our greatest rewards."
In recognition of the Lougheeds' unmatched generosity and unwavering support, the SUNY Board of Trustees and the SUNY Potsdam College Council both voted in November 2017 to name the Lougheed Learning Commons after the couple. College Council Chair June O'Neill (Hon. '99) read from the official naming resolutions in honor of the Lougheeds at the ceremony.
"When gifts of this size are received, it requires that we coordinate approval at both the campus and SUNY level. I had the pleasure of being in the room when both the SUNY Board of Trustees and the College Council approved this naming… It's not every day that we get to name buildings, so rest assured that these were very good meetings," O'Neill said.
Following the ceremony, which opened with musical selections by a saxophone quartet from The Crane School of Music, guests took in a showcase of projects that have been funded thanks to the Lougheeds' generosity.
The featured faculty projects included a mindfulness education initiative for future teachers, a TEDx SUNY Potsdam event and the purchase of new geographic information science equipment. Four students also shared their experiences with opportunities made possible by the Lougheed Center for Applied Learning, including Celia DiRenzo '18, Austin Raetz '18, Sarah Petrichick '20 and Antonia Nicorvo '18.
About the donors:
Kathryn Kofoed Lougheed '54 graduated from The Crane School of Music with a degree in music education, just as the new campus was being built. She went on to teach elementary and junior high vocal music in Greenwich, Conn., and Bryan, Texas, and later worked as a private piano teacher and assisted her husband with his growing business. Kathy volunteered as a docent for 28 years at the Blanton Museum of Art, located at The University of Texas at Austin, where she conducted tours of the exhibits for both adults and children, resulting in her receiving an excellent education in art history. Kathy was also a docent for the Austin Lyric Opera, and spent time visiting schools to teach children about operatic works in conjunction with educational performances.
Donald Lougheed (Hon. '54) left Columbia University after three years to join the U.S. Air Force, where he became a flight instructor in propeller and early jet aircraft during the Korean War. After Don completed his military service, the couple settled first in Rochester, N.Y., where they raised their children, Scott and Alison, and in 1963, began a successful career building automobile and recreational vehicle dealerships in New York. During this time, Don became a founding member of the National RV Dealer Association and served as its president and later as chairman of the board. After moving to Texas, Don built three of the largest RV dealerships in the United States, in addition to developing several mobile home and RV parks. In retirement, Don enjoys building his antique car collection.
Kathy and Don divide their time between their summer home in Northville, N.Y., and spend winters at home in Austin, Texas. Since establishing the Lougheed-Kofoed (LoKo) Festival of the Arts in 2012, they have gone on to become the largest donors in SUNY Potsdam history. In recognition of his dedication, Don was named an honorary member of his wife's Class of 1954 during Reunion Weekend 2013, and the couple was presented with the Distinguished Service Award from the SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association in 2016.
For more information about the Lougheed Learning Commons at SUNY Potsdam, visit http://www.potsdam.edu/learningcommons.
About SUNY Potsdam:
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America's first 50 colleges -- and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit http://www.potsdam.edu.