College receives $1 million gift to endow finance professorship

Marcia Belmar WillockSUNY Oswego received the largest gift, exclusive of bequests, in its 145-year history, when Marcia Belmar Willock of the class of 1950 this month pledged $1 million to Inspiring Horizons: The Campaign for Oswego.

The gift will endow the Marcia Belmar Willock ‘50 Professor of Finance, Oswego’s first endowed professorship. Revenue from the gift will be used to provide enhanced funds for a faculty position in the accounting, finance and law department of Oswego’s internationally accredited School of Business.

“Marcia Willock’s gift will make a lasting difference in the life of this institution,” said President Deborah F. Stanley. “As a student, Marcia was a leader on this campus. Now, her generosity will help make the Oswego experience even better for generations of our students. We are extremely grateful.”

Willock’s gift will enable the School of Business to move the finance program forward to establish a stronger presence in the areas of investment processes and banking, according to Dean Lanny Karns.

The Marcia Belmar Willock Professor of Finance endowment will allow the college to recruit, retain and sustain exceptional faculty, who will engage in research and entrepreneurial activities.

“Our students will have the opportunity to take more specialized courses, which will allow them more career opportunities in the financial service industry, an important part of the New York state economy,” said Richard Skolnik, chair of the accounting, finance and law department.

Willock noted, “If Oswego had offered a course in banking or money management, I probably would have worked my way into it sooner or later, but it wasn’t there.” Oswego’s business programs began in 1969.

Campaign co-chair Bernie Henderson called the gift “pace-setting,” saying, “It proves the place Oswego holds in the hearts of people who have experienced it—how important Oswego is to them.”

Willock said she is happy to give back to her alma mater. “Anyone who has spent four years at Oswego should realize that they owe Oswego,” she said. “Without the background that Oswego gives, you don’t have a platform to dive off, as far as education goes.”

Thanks to her generosity, future generations of Oswego students can be inspired by Willock’s story.

After graduating from Oswego, Willock taught school on Long Island and then joined the Marine Corps, attaining the rank of captain. She had been inspired by the World War II veterans she knew on campus to do a study of the difference between civilian and military education. In the Marine Corps, she met and in 1952 married her husband, Col. Roger Willock, who passed away in 2004. They have one daughter, Victoria.

As a young bride in an era when few women worked outside the home, Marcia Willock looked for something to engage her intellect. She found it in a women’s investment club she started in Princeton, N.J. After helping dozens of women make their fortunes in the stock market, Willock is perpetuating that help through her gift to Oswego.

After 30 years, the group she started in Princeton is still going strong and Willock remains a member.

When she moved to Maine, one of the first things she did was to start a similar group, the Learning Investors of Portland, and is still an active member.

An elementary education major at Oswego, Willock was always looking for new challenges and remembers requesting the formation of a modern dance class, which brought renowned choreographer Martha Graham to campus in the program’s second year. She also enjoyed participating in theatre productions and working with wood in an industrial arts course.

Willock’s “adopted” family in Oswego was the family of Albert and Catherine Canale and their children, Michael, Mary, Joseph, John, a 1950 graduate of Oswego State, and Benjamin, who graduated from the college in 1951. Willock remembers that she and Joseph Canale put on theatrical shows between 1946 and 1950 to raise money for local charities.

“Throughout her life, Marcia Willock has exercised a lively intellect, enjoying a multiplicity of passions and interests,” Stanley said. “Her motto is ‘Learn by Doing,’ and her success and vigor will continue to inspire Oswego students who learn of her through this gift.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Million-dollar support: Marcia Belmar Willock recently pledged $1 million to SUNY Oswego to endow the Marcia Belmar Willock ‘50 Professorship of Finance, Oswego’s first endowed professorship. She is shown with a portrait of her late husband, Col. Roger Willock.

CONTACT: Kerry Dorsey, 315-312-3003

(Posted: Aug 25, 2006)