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Scott Simonds 90 and Patricia Fonzi

Scott Simonds 90 and Patricia Fonzi

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 will provision.

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 them.

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 path.

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 experiences more.

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 trips.

"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 Student Affairs.

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."