SUNY Poly receives record $1.9M donation

MARCY – SUNY Polytechnic Institute announced on Monday that its SUNY Poly Foundation will receive a total of $ 1.9 million from the late Francis A. Wilcox – the largest individual donor contribution in the history of the institution.

One $ 1 million gift will support student scholarships, and another $ 900,000 gift will help upgrade four electrical and computer engineering / engineering technology labs and purchase new, state-of-the-art equipment.

The Francis A. Wilcox Fellowship will provide critical financial support to SUNY Poly students who demonstrate merit and / or financial needs, especially, but not limited to, those enrolled at the College of Engineering, the SUNY Poly said in a statement. The gift, supporting the renovation of engineering laboratories with new, related resources, will seek to provide the hundreds of students who attend compulsory and elective courses in electrical engineering and engineering technology each year with a stable, advanced education that will turn their training into practical opportunities for industry.

In addition, the second floor of Kunsela Hall will be named Francis A. Wilcox Engineering and Technology Wing, in memory of Wilcox, who lived in the same neighborhood of Eastern Utica all his life and wanted to make an impact on students’ lives. He graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School before earning a bachelor’s degree from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master’s degree from Cornell University.

During World War II, he served in the Army Signal Corps in India and received a medal for good behavior, an award for a well-deserved unit and a medal for victory from World War II. As an electrical engineer, Wilcox worked at General Electric in both Utica and Syracuse until his retirement, when he volunteered at both the Utica Public Library and the Oneida County Historical Society. There he spent time helping people from all over the United States research genealogy and reconnect with family members.

Wilcox’s nephew, Kevin Keel, and his wife, Sue, realized the opportunities for them to make a powerful difference in the lives of SUNY Poly students when they visited the Utica campus and learned more about the institution’s top-level engineering programs. .

“My uncle saved and invested almost every penny he earned as an electrical engineer, accumulating a small fortune,” said Kevin Keel, who received a bachelor’s degree in business and public management from the institution in 1992. “He hoped to help universities and colleges in many ways. ways. After visiting the campus of SUNY Poly Utica, my wife Sue and I saw a great opportunity to help others by giving them these gifts. This is completely logical and connects its past with the future not only of SUNY Poly, but also with the future of the city of Utica. My family is honored to be a part of both. “

“SUNY Poly is deeply grateful to Mr. Wilcox and Kevin and Sue Keehle for their transformational commitment that will enable SUNY Poly to provide inspiring and invigorating scholarships as well as leading engineering resources to students,” the Acting President of SUNY Poly said. “Todd A,” Lorsen said. “We are delighted to receive these generous donations, which will not only allow current and future students to receive world-class engineering education, but will also remind us all how one person can make such a strong impact on the lives of so many people. I look forward to walking around the wing of Francis A. Wilcox and seeing how exciting projects are being formed, and I hope others will see these gifts and be inspired to build on the generosity of Mr. Wilcox and his family. “

“On behalf of the SUNY Poly Foundation, we truly appreciate this most generous support from our institution and students from Mr. Wilcox and his family,” said Stephen Tetty, Chairman of the Board of the SUNY Poly Foundation. “These investments improve our engineering programs, promote exciting student experiences and provide first-hand knowledge of the latest engineering equipment to support alumni success in our rapidly changing world.”

The $ 1 million gift from Wilcox and Keehles to the SUNY Poly Foundation, which created the Francis A. Wilcox Fellowship, will cover the cost of qualified students attending SUNY Poly, which will help make SUNY Poly education even more -accessible, while providing students with the resources needed to achieve academic and later career success.

The transformation of the wing of Francis A. Wilcox Engineering and Technology Wing at Kunsela Hall is expected to take about 18 months, with repairs and equipment that will create, update and / or increase: The Laboratory for Electronic Systems and Circuits, with equipment supporting experience training in basic course works; The digital laboratory, with equipment and capabilities related to automotive systems and energy storage; together with Expanding and updating the Communication Lab to include Internet of Things (IoT), 5G wireless and software-defined resources; and An update to the Capstone Senior Laboratory, which includes a variety of engineering equipment, as well as opportunities for conferences and team meetings.

This largest individual personal gift helped stimulate the SUNY Poly Foundation’s fundraising efforts this fiscal year – the largest support received since the Foundation’s inception in 1974. The overall contribution to the financial year 2020-2021 is expected. to increase by over $ 1 million, a record number, thanks in large part to the generosity of Mr. Wilcox and Kevin and Sue Keel.

“These are historic gifts for SUNY Poly, and we thank Mr. Wilcox and Keehles for their generosity,” said RoAnn Destito, President of the SUNY College Council. “The gifts set off exciting renovations and updates to create world-class engineering labs and resources, but they also set the bar for providing students with the most affordable education and advanced skills possible, opening up career opportunities here, in the Mohawk Valley and beyond. “

Dr. Michael Carpenter, interim dean of SUNY Poly College of Engineering, said: “It was a great pleasure to learn from Kevin and Sue Keel about Mr. Wilcox and his rich history in the Mohawk Valley. Similarly, given this story, it was a great occasion with Kevin and Sue when we shared a vision for SUNY Poly’s College of Engineering and its long journey to impact and serve as a resource for the Mohawk Valley and New York State. We are extremely grateful for the generosity and commitment of the Wilcox family to enable SUNY Poly to achieve these goals. ”

To learn more about SUNY Poly’s fundraising efforts and to pledge your support, visit