Smalls continue legacy with $4 million gift to sciences

Richard and Norma Small, already the most generous philanthropists in Cornell College history, have extended their legacy with a lead gift of $4 million for the college’s science facilities project. 

Richard and Norma Small
Richard and Norma Small

Cornell’s $35 million science project will more than double the college’s STEM space with the construction, already underway, of the four-story Russell Science Center and renovations of West Science and portions of Law Hall. In just under two years, the college has exceeded $32 million in gifts toward the project, the primary focus of a new campaign, Greater > Than.  

“Richard and Norma have given much of their lives and their resources to leading and strengthening Cornell,” said Cornell College President Jonathan Brand. “The college is deeply grateful for their generous gift to the science facilities project. With this gift they make an even more profound difference on the Hilltop.”

Richard Small ’50, a life trustee and past Cornell Board of Trustees chair, and Norma Thomas Small, an honorary Cornell trustee and alumna, have been lead or major donors on every Cornell capital project since 1985. Their support extends to every aspect of the campus, from the Small Multi-Sport Center to the Thomas Commons, and encompassing fine arts, residence halls, the library, and academic buildings. They established an endowed faculty chair, as well as the Small-Thomas Lecture Series “Dreams of Peace: Visions of the Future” with a goal of building a community where people of all cultures and religions enjoy respect and the ability to develop understanding and support of one another.

As a Cornell student Richard Small was invited to be on the wrestling team that became the national champions in an era before the NCAA had three divisions. Small later became a conference wrestling champion and is a Governor’s Associate of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

“My appreciation of being able to be part of that great team and being able to wrestle the following years is the basis of my loyalty to Cornell College,” said Richard Small, who resides with Norma in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Attending Cornell changed my life. Few Cornell College students have come from wealthy families, so those of us who can must do as much as possible for Cornell.”