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Opportunity to Thrive: Gifts of support make innovation on
campus, access to education, possible.
By Susan Field
As Director of Student Affairs at Penn State York, ESU alumnus Scott
Simonds '90 understands the innovation and access to opportunity that
donations can afford a university and its students.
"Working in higher education, I know how important it is to have a flow of
money available. It allows a university to be innovative, to implement new,
great ideas, to make exciting things happen on campus," said Simonds, a
Secondary Education Social Studies major. "The world of higher education is
changing rapidly because of technology, and will continue to change. In
order to sustain, and be relevant, a university needs money."
When it came time for Simonds, and his wife, Patricia Fonzi, to write their
wills, it was an easy decision for Simonds to leave money to ESU through a
The couple, who are members of The 1893 Society, do not have children. They
chose to leave money to organizations or institutions that are important to
Simonds wants ESU to continue to flourish and benefit students long after
he's gone. He feels strongly about donating to maintain and accelerate
growth on campus, but also to provide students with access to education.
"The cost of education is the biggest stumbling block for students to
access opportunities," Simonds said. "I would never have the career I have
today if it weren't for ESU. If my money can help another student have the
same opportunities I had, it would be worth it."
Simonds' college experience was formative in helping direct his career
Originally from Waverly, N.Y., close to the border of Pennsylvania, Simonds
looked for colleges in both states. When he visited ESU, it quickly became
clear that he had found what he was looking for.
"From the moment I got on campus, it felt right to me," Simonds said. "I
liked the size and the location. I'm an 'outdoors person,' so to have so
many outdoor activities available right outside my door was perfect."
He enjoyed having access to Stoney Acres, ESU's field campus and recreation
site in Marshalls Creek, and the many ski resorts in the Pocono area.
Simonds enrolled in the Secondary Education major, but soon realized that
even though he liked his courses, he was enjoying his co-curricular
As a member of the University Programming Council, Simonds planned student
activities on campus. As a member of the Outing Club, he planned off-campus
"We'd go to Jim Thorpe for white water rafting, we'd ski at Camelback, hike
at Hawk Mountain. It was great fun and I was learning a lot," Simonds said.
"I was running meetings, planning trips, working with a budget. I realized
that I was getting the most satisfaction from those experiences."
He was also an orientation leader, guiding student tours on campus
throughout the summers. His senior year he was a resident advisor for the
International Floor of Minsi Hall, sparking friendships with people from
all over the world, some of whom he is still in contact with.
Simonds also worked at the student bookstore. This experience showed him
that every opportunity as a college student-even the ones that seem minor-
are important opportunities for growth and development of lifelong skills.
"It was a significant experience for me. The people I worked with were all
really supportive," Simonds said. "Any experiences students have on campus
can be formative."
Through his campus involvement, Simonds had the opportunity to work with
university staff that became mentors.
Bob Moses, an assistant dean of students at the time, (the former director
of Residence Life and Housing), the late Valerie Hodge, an assistant dean
and director of Orientation, (who went on to become a vice president of
Student Affairs), and Nancy Weaver, an assistant dean, (who became an
assistant to the vice president of Student Affairs), all had a great
influence on Simonds, personally and professionally.
"They started to talk to me about higher ed., and student affairs as a
career," Simonds said. "When I was questioning if I should change my major,
Bob encouraged me to finish my undergraduate degree in education and go to
graduate school to pursue higher ed. He told me I wouldn't regret it."
After graduating from ESU, Simonds attended Buffalo State University in
N.Y. He worked as a residence hall director and completed his degree in
Student Personnel Administration.
Following the completion of graduate school in 1992, Simonds worked at
Ithaca College and SUNY Brockport in Residence Life, meeting his future
wife at the latter.
Simonds then moved to Pennsylvania in 1995 to work at Gettysburg College in
Residence Life, before landing a position as Associate Director of Student
Affairs at Penn State York in 1998.
When a leadership position opened at Harrisburg Area Community College,
Gettysburg Campus, in 2009, Simonds seized the opportunity. He worked as
Dean of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management for nine years. In 2017,
he had the opportunity to come back to Penn State York, as the director of
Over the years, Simonds has stayed connected to ESU and his classmates,
including student orientation leaders that he worked with as an undergrad.
"If I'm ever near ESU, I always stop by, and I enjoy reading the Alumni
Herald," Simonds said. "Social media has made it easy to stay in touch with
folks. I like to travel, so if I'm in someone's neck of the woods, I will
reach out to get together."
He's also stayed in touch with Moses and Weaver.
"They feel very gratified that I followed this path," he said.
He and Patricia, who leads a non-profit organization, reside in York with
their two dogs. They enjoy being involved in their community, traveling,
gardening, and outdoor activities.
When it comes to giving back, Simonds hopes more people will generously
support the university they love.
"When you give back, you leave a legacy," Simonds said. "I'm happy to do
anything I can to help funding continue to flow and for the University to
continue to thrive long after I'm gone."
An IRA rollover allows people age 70½ and older to reduce their taxable income by making a gift directly from their IRA.