Monday, 17 December 2012 16:14

Historic $5 million gift to name new science complex

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Pictured is a recent construction photo for the Richard S. Shineman Science, Engineering and Innovation Center at the SUNY Oswego campus, set to open in fall 2013. Dr. Barbara Shineman made a gift of $5 million for the project to be named in her late husband's name. Pictured is a recent construction photo for the Richard S. Shineman Science, Engineering and Innovation Center at the SUNY Oswego campus, set to open in fall 2013. Dr. Barbara Shineman made a gift of $5 million for the project to be named in her late husband's name. Photo by Jim Russell/SUNY Oswego

    Richard Shineman headshot A $5 million gift – the largest cash philanthropic gift in SUNY Oswego's 150-year history – will name the Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation, now under construction and set to open in fall 2013.


     Dr. Barbara Palmer Shineman (pronounced SHINN - uh - munn), professor emerita of education, made the gift of $5 million, which includes $4 million from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, in memory of her late husband, Dr. Richard S. Shineman, a seminal figure in the history of sciences at Oswego. He was the founding chair of the chemistry department and was a key player in developing the sciences facilities used at the college over the last half century.

     "Barbara and Dick have been longtime generous supporters of our college. They epitomize the loyalty and devotion of the entire SUNY Oswego community. But this gift is of another dimension. As the largest philanthropic gift in our college's history, it will mean many things to our students – from well-equipped science facilities to top-notch faculty," said Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley in announcing the gift.

     "We are tremendously thrilled and grateful. This gift comes at a key time, as we focus more than ever on educating students in the sciences and related disciplines. The work and recognition made possible by this wonderful and welcome act of generosity will put Oswego on the map in these fields," she added.

     In accordance with state education law and State University regulations, President Stanley, the Oswego College Foundation, SUNY Oswego College Council and SUNY board of trustees have approved recognizing this historic $5 million gift by naming Oswego's new science complex in Richard S. Shineman's honor.

     The gift will establish an endowment that will support an endowed chair in chemistry and educational and cultural opportunities including science programs and research and initiatives of the faculty of the Shineman Center.

     "It is always a point of pride when our campuses are given philanthropic gifts in recognition of the excellent education they provide to students in so many different fields of learning," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. "It is also an honor for campuses to be able to name facilities or scholarships after donors who have shown an exemplary dedication to the campus. Congratulations to SUNY Oswego on this much-deserved donation and many thanks to professor emerita Dr. Barbara Shineman and the Richard S. Shineman Foundation for their consistent support."

     "Dick would be overwhelmed by this . . . and very humbled," Shineman said, "He really had a great deal of respect for the college. When Dick joined the faculty in 1962, he was hired to help reshape the sciences at Oswego, so he would be so very pleased to see this state-of-the-art building, where all the disciplines will be under one roof."

     Dick Shineman was one of the founders of Oswego's chemistry program and its first chair, as well as part of a cadre of professors who helped design the science facilities in Snygg Hall. He earned an undergraduate degree from Cornell University, a master's from Syracuse and a doctorate from the Ohio State University.

     Barbara Shineman also has deep roots at Oswego, having graduated as a non-traditional student with an undergraduate degree in childhood education in 1965, master's in reading education in 1971 and a Certificate of Advanced Study. She earned her doctorate at Syracuse University.

Barbara Shineman taught at the Campus School, and when it closed, joined the elementary education department at Oswego, where she taught until her retirement in 1989.

     She directed the Sheldon Institute for Gifted and Talented Students and the Potential Teacher Program, and coordinated Swetman Learning Center advisement while continuing her work as a professor of elementary education in what is now the college's School of Education.

     "The college was a big part of our life together," Shineman said.

     After retirement, they would go on to be involved in the Emeriti Association, with Dick Shineman on the original board of directors and Barbara Shineman serving as president for seven years.

     Barbara Shineman served as the Annual Fund volunteer chair and was the recipient of the Oswego Alumni Association's Lifetime Award of Merit.

     During the college's first capital campaign, "Inspiring Horizons," she served as a member of the Presidential Campaign Cabinet. For more than a decade, she served on the Oswego Alumni Association Scholarship Committee.

     President Stanley presented her with a Presidential Medal at the 2007 Commencement Ceremony for her lifelong support to SUNY Oswego.

Philanthropy – especially giving to Oswego – has been extremely important to the Shinemans, both of whom served on the Oswego College Foundation board of directors.

     "The college was a very important part of (Dick's) life," said Shineman. "He had a very strong, committed, loyal feeling about Oswego – where it was going, what it was trying to do."

     The couple focused their giving on the college, providing nearly a million dollars in support during Dick Shineman's lifetime.

     "Dick and I always agreed about the tremendous importance of education. We always felt education is an enabler . . . it enables you to pursue your dreams and gives you the confidence in your ability to achieve success," Shineman said. "It follows that, the more resources the college has, the better it will enable students to reach for their dreams."

     Dick Shineman insisted on anonymity during his lifetime, although he acknowledged his support of the Freshman Chemistry Scholarship, with four awarded to incoming Oswego students each year. Barbara Shineman has supported Penfield Library, campus beautification projects and the School of Education, among other initiatives.

     "Dick's philosophy was 'It's wonderful to have money, but it's not something to hold on to.' You come into the world with nothing, and go out of it with nothing," Shineman remembered.

     That philosophy found its ultimate expression in the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, founded just before his death in 2010.

     The gift to SUNY Oswego is the first for the foundation, which aims to be a "Catalyst for Change," funding community programs in Upstate New York and especially Oswego County.

  To read about the life and legacy of Dr. Richard Shineman, check out OzLegacies at

  To read about the life and works of Dr. Barbara Shineman,  go to Life Full at

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