SummerMagazine_2014_final - page 22-23

summer 2014 | St. Lawrence University Magazine 21
20 summer 2014 | St. Lawrence University Magazine
very semester, I challenge my student interns, “Name
me one thing you will do in the rest of your lives
that doesn’t involve communication in one form or
They’re stumped.
Indeed, communication is the one skill most common to every-
thing, and everyone. So it’s fitting that it receive special atten-
tion at a liberal arts university such as St. Lawrence, in the form
of a dedicated program and a professorship, both established by
the Maurer Family Foundation.
Maurer Professor of Speech and Rhetoric
Kirk Fuoss endorses the importance of com-
munication agility. “Enhancing students’
ability to communicate effectively is one of
St. Lawrence’s most fundamental objectives,”
says Fuoss, who teaches in the Department
of Performance and Communication Arts
(PCA). “I am struck time and again by how
committed my faculty colleagues across the
campus are to achieving this objective. I have also been struck by
how committed alumni are to this goal, none more so than Gil
Maurer ’50, whose very generous gift made possible the work of
the University’s Rhetoric and Communication Program.
“Previously, faculty with expertise in oral and written commu-
nication assisted faculty in other departments with the teaching
of these fundamental skills,” Fuoss explains. “However, because
those faculty members had full-time teaching loads, the extent
to which we were able to engage in this work was necessarily
limited. The creation of the Maurer professorship in speech and
rhetoric was instrumental in alleviating this stumbling block.”
By way of alleviation, Fuoss leads faculty development ses-
sions and offers oral communication instruction to students
in settings such as First-Year Program colleges. Last spring he
piloted a project aimed at “assessing first-year students’ oral
communication skills, a project that next year will be expanded
to include all first-year students,” he says.
‘Five percent better on their feet’
Gil Maurer ’50, left, and Ann Maurer with
President William L. Fox ’75 in May 2013.
Alex Smith ’12
Maurer Family Foundation advances oral communication development
at St. Lawrence with program and professorship.
By Neal Burdick ’72
–Gil Maurer ’50
A student today should not
graduate without a skill in oral
presentation at least equal to the
writing skills colleges have
so long demanded.
hose skills are supremely important to Maurer, retired
executive vice president/chief operating officer at the
Hearst Corporation, where he remains as a consul-
tant and director. “We live in an oral as well as a visual age,”
he says. “Having thought about it for a long time, I arrived at
this proposition: ‘Mr. College President, think of your most
direct competitor for the students you most desire. Concede
that your institutions are alike in every way, except one. If your
graduates, no matter their major, no matter their life pursuit,
were only 5 percent better on their feet, do you have any doubt
that in a generation they would disproportionately occupy the
corridors of power?’
“We are not describing a speech program here,” Maurer contin-
ues. “Every college has a speech department. We are describing
a sea change in the college curriculum; implicit is the idea that
a student today should not graduate without a skill in oral
presentation at least equal to the writing skills colleges have so
long demanded. A chemistry or math major should be equally
as articulate as an English, history or government major.”
And thus did St. Lawrence’s Rhetoric and Communication
Program and Maurer professorship in speech and rhetoric come
to be. “St. Lawrence is in the lead in this 21st -century (com-
munication) world,” Maurer says. “I hope that in some small
way our success with this program will inspire other thought-
ful St. Lawrence alumni to support the faculty in cooperative
endeavors that will advance the understanding of the academy
and the superior education St. Lawrence offers.”
In Other News
John Meagher Endowment Fund
Continues to Climb
To ensure that students with documented disabilities and
accessibility needs continue to meet their fullest potential,
St. Lawrence University seeks to raise $1,000,000 to estab-
lish the John Meagher Endowment Fund to support its
Office of Disability and Accessibility Services. Several
alumni, parents and friends have made generous commit-
ments to this important effort, and the fund total is
currently at about $300,000. For more information:
Chad Tessier,
or 315-229-5519.
Endowment Funds Sought for
Beta Temple Restoration
Having secured over $425,000 in commitments, the
University plans to commence construction this fall on the
Beta Theta Pi Temple. Some $100,000 of the $500,000 goal
will establish an endowment that will provide for future
maintenance and enhancements of the temple. Donors
committing $5,000 or more will be recognized as members
of the “Wooglin” Group, while all other donors will be
recognized on a list titled, “Once a Beta, Always a Beta.” For
more information: Tom Pynchon,
315-229-5519, or Allen Splete ’60,
Sustainability Semester Program Endowment
The Sustainability Semester (
ability-semester) embodies St. Lawrence’s commitment to
reflective thinking and experiential learning. Foundation
grants and generous alumni funded the first two years of
the program. To ensure the continuing excellence of this
important endeavor, St. Lawrence seeks to raise $2 million
to endow it. For more information: Sue Regier, sregier@ or 315-229-5915.
KDS Alumnae Fund Growing
Since its inception about two years ago, the KDS Alumnae
Fund has received over $60,000 in gifts and an additional
$14,000 in multi-year pledges. Almost 25 percent of the
goal of $250,000 by the house’s 50th anniversary in 2019
has been reached. KDS sisters have fully met the dollar-for-
dollar $25,000 challenge match made by Chris Koski ’79
and Hilary Valentine ’89 at the fund’s inception, allowing,
among other projects, expansion of and renovations to the
upstairs bathroom and window coverings throughout the
house. For more information: Kim Hissong, khissong@ or 315-229-5837.
Over two days in April, some
1,856 alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff and friends came together
in hopes of
accomplishing a goal St. Lawrence has never reached before.
Between noon on April 23 and noon on April 24, 1,637 donors made gifts in our first-ever
Spring SLU Forward
24-Hour Challenge, setting a new school record
for the number of gifts received in a 24-hour time period (by 690
donors!). In the following hours another 219 Laurentians helped close the gap so we could ultimately reach our goal.
Thank you to our current and former Alumni Council members for committing $200,000 to the challenge and
inspiring so many Laurentians to
Spring SLU Forward!
Reasons to Celebrate!
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