$25,000 gift for The Commons

Sydney Smith Hicks ’69 has pledged $25,000 for the Career Center in The Commons, in honor of her parents, David W. and Elizabeth A. Smith.

Sydney Smith Hicks

The Commons opened during the spring of Hicks’ freshman year at Cornell College. Before that, students ate in one of two residence halls, separating the student body in half. Once The Commons opened, however, life on campus changed.

“It was an eye opener for everyone,” she said, “because we had a chance to mingle with people from across campus. The Commons provided space for us to do a lot of things that weren’t possible in the dorms or the classrooms.  The Career Center activities in the updated Commons will enhance the future careers of all of the students.”

Then, as now, students spent part of nearly every day in The Commons, whether eating, having class, attending lectures or simply hanging out with friends. Peter Wilch, vice president for Alumni and College Advancement, said the gift demonstrates the continued importance of The Commons today.

“The Commons continues to be the hub of community life for the campus,” Wilch said. “Sydney’s gift will allow the college to bolster the career center and will benefit Cornellians for generations.  We are grateful to Sydney for her tremendous generosity to Cornell’s students.”

Hicks began her career at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, became a Chief Economist at a commercial bank, and for the last 15 years has been in technology companies, becoming CEO of VECTORsgi and now serving as Executive Chairman of the Board of DeviceFidelity, Inc., a dynamic, transformational payments company.  She credits her liberal arts background received at Cornell as key to her varied career.  She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Cornell College, and master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Washington University in St. Louis.

This gift is part of Cornell College’s comprehensive campaign Extraordinary Opportunities: The Campaign for Cornell College. The Commons $13.2 million renovation and expansion will increase the building size by 28 percent to accommodate enrollment growth and modern student life activities. The plans call for sweeping changes to the building’s upper-level entryway, along with a two-story addition on the back. A spacious entry, a new career services center, and a larger and more prominent bookstore will greet visitors. Other changes include open, airy lounge spaces and private dining and meeting rooms and classrooms.   The campaign concludes on June 30, 2010, and will enhance the student experience by providing increased support through the endowment, upgrading facilities, and enhancing the academic program.

For more information about the campaign or to make a gift, visit cornellcollege.edu/campaign or contact Peter Wilch, Vice President for Alumni and College Advancement at 319-895-4315 or pwilch@cornellcollege.edu.