MVCC honors late donor who left $3 million to the school

Mohawk Valley Community College renamed a campus building on Tuesday, Sept. 17, to honor a generous donor who left $3 million to the college in his will, the largest donation in the school’s history.

Posted: Sep 18, 2019 10:02 AM
Updated: Sep 18, 2019 10:55 AM

UTICA – Mohawk Valley Community College renamed a campus building to honor a generous donor who left $3 million to the college in his will, the largest donation in the school’s history.

Electrical engineer and decorated veteran, Francis Wilcox, died in 2011, naming MVCC as a beneficiary in his will. To recognize his gift to the school, faculty and students gathered Tuesday as the Information Technology Building on the Utica Campus was renamed Francis A. Wilcox Hall. 


Photo courtesy of MVCC - From left: Frank B. DuRoss, vice president for community development and executive director of the MVCC Foundation; Kevin Keehle, nephew of Francis A. Wilcox and executor to his estate; Marilyn Keehle, sister of Wilcox; Sue Keehle

MVCC intends to use the funds from the donation for student scholarships.

“With the value that Francis put on education, all this money is going towards scholarships. This is not for brick and mortar, this is to help our students,” said Frank DuRoss, executive director of the MVCC Foundation.

Of the $3 million, $2.5 million will go toward the Wilcox Memorial Endowed Fund, supporting two full-tuition scholarships. This will include the Presidential Scholarship and Exceptional Student Scholarship, which are merit-based awards that benefit more than 70 high school graduates each year. The Presidential Scholarship allows students graduation in the top 10 percent of their class to attend MVCC free of tuition.

The remaining $500,000 will be split in half to contribute to continuing education and updates at MVCC.

The first half will be used to establish the new Francis A. Wilcox Memorial Adult Student Scholarship, which will be endowed. This will provide financial assistance to students 25 and older who live in the state and have at least a 2.0 GPA.

The other $250,000 will be used to create the Wilcox Family Fund, to be used for the for additional technological and academic needs at the college.

“This is a truly transformational gift that will change the lives of so many students, and the fact the gift adds to our endowment assures the impact will endure into the future,” said MVCC President Randall J. VanWagoner.

Wilcox was born in Utica and graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his master’s degree from Cornell University.

He also served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in India during World War II and was the recipient of the Good Conduct Medal, the Meritorious Unit Award, and the World War II Victory Medal. After his service, he worked as an electrical engineer with General Electric in Utica and Syracuse. In retirement, he volunteered at the Utica Public Library and the Oneida County Historical Society.

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