UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – 1.9 million dollars was gifted to the SUNY Polytechnic Institute from the family of the late Francis A. Wilcox. This is the largest individual donor gift in the school’s history.

One million dollars will be used for the Francis A. Wilcox scholarship which will provide critical financial support to SUNY Poly students who demonstrate merit and, or, financial need. The scholarship will give preference to students enrolled in the college of engineering.

“What we find quite often is that just a little bit of a boost in terms of a scholarship that reduces the cost of attendance a little bit can really make a difference for attracting a student to poly,” said Dr. Tod Laursen, the institute’s acting president.

The remaining $900,000 will be used to support the renovation of four electrical and computer engineering technology laboratories and the purchase of new, state-of-the-art equipment. Electrical engineers will likely be the largest beneficiaries of these labs but the school offers technology training and engineering programs in mechanical and civil fields as well.

Laursen said, “That combination of technology training and engineering training is pretty unique in engineering colleges, but it really requires laboratories. That type of education is not theoretical. It’s not hypothetical. People need to get their hands on new devices, new systems, learn how to work with them and the experience just won’t be the same without that.”

The institute will also make updates within the school’s admissions building to improve student labs and workspaces in the College of Engineering. The second floor of Kunsela Hall will be renamed the Francis A. Wilcox engineering and technology wing.

Francis A. Wilcox is decorated veteran whose generosity in Utica goes far beyond the $1.9 million donation recently gifted to the SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Mr. Wilcox spent his life living in East Utica. During World War II, Mr. Wilcox served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in India. He worked as an electrical engineer at General Electric in both Syracuse and Utica, and upon his retirement he devoted his time to volunteer efforts in the city. Mr. Wilcox volunteered at the Utica public library and the Oneida county historical society. Many local colleges have benefitted from Mr. Wilcox’s financial contributions.

SUNY Poly hopes to see the updates being funded by the donation completed in approximately 18 months.