Largest donation in SUNY Oswego history to name science building

Dec 17, 2012

SUNY Oswego has received the largest donation in its 150 year history. The gift comes from a couple who have already dedicated much of their life's work to the university.

Barbara Shineman was a professor of education at SUNY Oswego for many years. Her late husband, Dick Shineman, was on the university’s faculty beginning in 1962, and was the founding chairman of the chemistry department. The five million dollar gift - donated in part from Barbara Shineman and partly from the foundation her husband created before he died - will go to the new science building on campus.

The SUNY Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation. The building is scheduled to open in fall of 2013.

Barbara says her husband Dick was a modest person and would not have agreed to have a building named after him while he was alive.

“He didn't feel he needed to have his name on anything,” said Shineman. “He would have thought of a lot of other people who were deserving because he was really quite a humble person.”

But she says he would be pleased that the money is going to enhance the study of sciences at SUNY Oswego.

“It encompasses a lot of departments that relate to science, all under one roof. It will be very meaningful for the future of the college and for students who come here,” Shineman said.

The donation will also go toward science programs and research, educational and cultural opportunities, and an endowed chair in chemistry.

SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley says the university will determine a particular discipline within chemistry that will be supported by the gift. And because endowed chairs generally last in perpetuity, Stanley hopes it will help attract other scientific research to the university as well.

“They help establish a particular hallmark for a program and that will do that for chemistry. Hopefully we will bring in a recognized and renowned scholar, someone who has established a research basis and can bring it to Oswego to help our students go forward,” said Stanley. “They will see life in a different way and see chemistry in a different way, having that person here.”

And according to Barbara Shineman, that’s just what her husband would have wanted for the school that became home to both of them over the years. Dick, she said, had a “really deep feeling for the college, education; for the community and the people.”

So much so that, she said, giving this historic gift just seemed like a “natural thing.”