College names scholarship endowment fund in honor of late Black Studies chairwoman

The State University of New York at New Paltz has renamed its Minority Recruitment Program (MRP) Scholarship Endowment Fund after the late Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis, a longtime professor at the College and chairwoman of the Black Studies Department.

Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis

In honor of her many efforts in support of students of color during her 36 years as a professor and mentor at the College, the fund will now be known as the Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis Memorial MRP Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Wade-Lewis, who died of cancer on Dec. 30, 2009, was a cherished member of the College faculty and will be remembered for her many contributions, including nurturing the College’s Black Studies Department, now celebrating its 40th year.

The MRP Endowment Fund was originally created in 2000 to provide scholarships to current and future students of color who are academically focused and have substantial financial need.

To date, the endowment campaign’s goal to raise $1 million by December 2010 has realized more than $45,000 in outright gifts and pledges, according to Onika Jervis ’93, who has been involved in the MRP Endowment Campaign from its inception, and who has been an integral part of the volunteer committee organizing fundraisers, working with the development office and with Wade-Lewis to communicate the need for these funds.

Jervis said that Wade-Lewis was both a generous supporter of, and passionate fundraiser for, the fund.

“The MRP Scholarship Endowment was one of [Dr. Wade-Lewis’s] personal missions that she took with her everywhere – to all her family, personal and community friends and partners,” said Jervis. “She was known to write personal letters and e-mails asking for donations for this cause.

Wade-Lewis was known and respected for her strong commitment to student success and to that end helped establish the Scholar’s Mentorship Program, a highly successful and nationally acclaimed networking initiative on campus that connects faculty/staff mentors to student protégés. Wade-Lewis guided and inspired hundreds of students to success at New Paltz and beyond.

College President, Steven Poskanzer said that Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis left an indelible mark on the institution. “I shall always think of Margaret as part of the glue that held this college together. She was a force for social justice, a voice for compassion and a beacon of educational opportunity. She leaves an undying legacy that now falls to all of us to follow her example.”

The renaming of the Minority Recruitment Scholarship Endowment in honor of Wade-Lewis is a celebration of her life’s work, passion and dream and will help her legacy live on, Jervis explained. “Alumni who give and assist with fundraising do it because they can remember being in a her class, sitting in her office or listening to one of her speeches at a campus wide function, and it is my feeling that they would not want to see her kindness, her lessons, or her struggles go to waste, but rather live on.”

Individuals interested in contributing a tax deductible gift in memory of Dr. Wade-Lewis to the Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis Memorial MRP Scholarship Endowment can do so by contacting a SUNY New Paltz Foundation Gifts Officer at (845) 257-3239 or by visiting and then proceed to the upper right corner of the page and click on "make a gift.” You must write in "MRP Endowment" in the line that asks where to direct your gift.