We often say that Cazenovia College creates experiences and friendships that last a lifetime. One alumna is showing that to be steadfastly true through a recent gift to the College which she made at the age of 99.

Jeanne Moore Cordts grew up locally, just a few miles west of the College on her family’s Pompey Hollow farm. In 1940, she was accepted to attend Elmira College to pursue a teaching education, but an unexpected change in her family’s finances upended that plan. A summer storm devastated the family’s apple crop. It was the income source the family had long planned as the means to pay for Jeanne’s college education.

Jeanne wasn’t sure she’d be able to attend college at all when then-Cazenovia College President Burritt Harrington called on the family. He offered Jeanne a place in the class, a work-study job, and a scholarship that would make college possible after all. She applied, was accepted, and graduated with her associate degree in 1942. She greatly enjoyed the environment the College offered, her chance at the first step in her education, and an educational pursuit that kept her close to home yet allowed her to enjoy many campus activities and make lifelong friends. Her days there were particularly enjoyable, she reflects, because she was new to dating then, but had a College boyfriend she really enjoyed studying with, going to dances with, and the pair often visited the family farm. They dated for several years, but World War II intervened, and they went separate ways.

Jeanne went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees and pursued a doctorate as well, an endeavor that led to her meeting her future husband. As a young couple, they eventually moved to Maryland to take jobs with Frostburg State Teachers College.

Recently, reflecting on how the College president’s offer and act of generosity changed her life, Jeanne decided to pay it forward. She visited campus in December with her son to present the College a gift of $25,000, funds that will support student scholarships. She plans to visit the College in May for a dedication ceremony for The Jeanne Moore Cordts ’42 Study at Witherill Library.

She has previously awarded a small scholarship, the Jeanne Moore Cordts ’42 Academic Excellence Scholarship, which is awarded to a returning student who has exhibited academic excellence by maintaining a minimum 3.25 grade point average. She and her husband also present a scholarship at Frostburg State University, where both taught for years. However, with this gift to Cazenovia College, Jeanne said she wanted to do more. She has reflected on how all five children in her family, subsisting on a farmer’s income, consistently needed to work at jobs and work hard to apply for scholarships every year, in order for all to attend college. And Cazenovia College served Jeanne’s family well, she said. In addition to the doors her own scholarship and college pursuits opened, her father attended Cazenovia Seminary from 1910-1913, and an aunt and uncle attended the school as well.

“I will always remember the kindness of the scholarship and work-study offer extended by the president to aid in my college education, and how his visit quelled much of the financial and emotional damage from the hailstorm,” Jeanne recounts. “As it turned out, I was very happy to go to Cazenovia at the time, and I’ve been very appreciative ever since because I was given a chance to do something that might never have happened otherwise, and as it was it changed the course of my life.”

Now, at the age of 99, Jeanne says she reflects on the course her life has taken and is “mindful and appreciative of such individual and timely acts and their enduring effects…[and] my hope is that the Jeanne Moore Cordts ‘42 Scholarships prompt others to be generous and kind toward those in need, much as President Harrington did for me eight decades ago.”

The College is naming a study room in the Witherill Library in her honor and plans to display two upstate New York-themed original paintings created by her brother, the artist Dr. Roger Moore, as a tribute to commemorate the family’s involvement with the College.