celebrated a $1 million contribution from alumna Theresa Patnode Santmann on Wednesday, the largest gift in the nearly 100-year history of the institution.
Santmann, of Babylon, is a health care advocate and entrepreneur. The college’s School of Health Sciences has been named for Santmann and her donation will establish endowed scholarships and support faculty research within the health sciences and bioscience programs.
“Farmingdale provided me with an excellent education and helped shape my success in the healthcare industry,” said Santmann. “I continue to be amazed at the transformation that has taken place over the last few years and the growth of the research enterprise.”
At the announcement on Wednesday, local officials, college council members, students and faculty gathered outside of Gleeson Hall to unveil the newly named building in Santmann's honor.
Santmann received her nursing degree from Farmingdale State in 1969, a few years after purchasing a rental property in Babylon, which she converted into an adult home. Her late husband, John, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and was her first patient. She later built and operated Little Flower Nursing Home in East Islip and Petite Fleur Nursing Home in Sayville. In 1993, Santmann invented and patented a walker with a folding, pivoting seat.
“Theresa Santmann is a person of extraordinary generosity, both in her financial support of Farmingdale over many years, and with her time and effort,” said Farmingdale State College President W. Hubert Keen. “Clearly, she recognizes Farmingdale’s value as an investment, and I couldn’t agree more. We are critical not only in meeting the educational needs of the region’s students, but also as an engine of economic development.”
Her gift will create four scholarships spread over the programs in nursing, bioscience, dental hygiene and medical technology, and will also support faculty research and the enhancing of student resources.
Farmingdale has the largest and oldest dental hygiene program in the region, dating to 1946 and the bioscience program has grown from 30 students to 300 since beginning in 2003.
Previously, Santmann has donated funds for a 9/11 memorial on the Farmingdale State campus, laboratory improvements, nursing faculty awards, and landscaping projects. She was honored at the Farmingdale College Foundation’s annual Business Hall of Fame Gala in 2010, was named Farmingdale’s Alumna of the Year in 2005, was recognized as one of Long Island’s Top 50 Women by the Long Island Business News three times and received an honorary doctorate from Dowling College in 1999.
With more than 7,000 students, Farmingdale is the largest of SUNY’s colleges of applied science and technology and has experienced a
“What better time for such a gesture than as we approach our 100th Anniversary to be celebrated during the 2011-12 academic year?" President Keen said. "It’s just perfect.”