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Gifts from BAE Systems, IBM and Kodak support Watson

By : Susann Thiel

BAE Systems Platform Solutions, IBM Corp. and the Eastman Kodak Company are helping to mark the 20th anniversary of the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science with gifts that encourage more underrepresented minorities to enter careers in high technology, maintain laboratories as state-of-the-art teaching facilities and recruit and retain an excellent faculty.

“Committed industry partners helped found the Watson School, and it has continued to receive their generous support throughout 20 years of growth and innovation,” University President Lois B. DeFleur said.

“The Watson School is a vital part of Binghamton University and a major asset to the community — especially to companies like BAE Systems that benefit from having access to such a large base of engineering talent,” said William Berical, vice president of engineering at BAE Systems Platform Solutions and chair of the Watson School Advisory Committee. In his capacity as chair, Berical played a key role in securing BAE Systems’ gift and those from Advisory Committee member companies IBM and Kodak.

“Technology has emerged as the driver of the world’s economy, and the Watson School will play an important role in preparing future generations to succeed in that environment. In that light, we consider this grant to be an extremely sound investment,” Berical said.

Half of BAE Systems’ gift of $100,000, along with Kodak’s gift of $10,000 will support greater diversity among students of engineering and computer science by providing resources for the Binghamton Success Program, as well as peer mentoring and exchange experiences for underrepresented minority students.

“The Watson School is dedicated to providing greater opportunities for underrepresented students majoring in engineering and computer science,” said Watson School Dean Charles R. Westgate. “These gifts will support programs that prepare our highly talented students of color for success in the workforce and for advanced study.”

Alumnus James Manchisi ’82 helped secure the gift from Kodak. Manchisi obtained his master’s degree from the School of Advanced Technology, predecessor of the Watson School.

“As a company headquartered in New York state, Kodak is proud to support our universities’ initiatives to provide quality educational opportunities for all of New York’s citizens,” said Manchisi, president of Commercial and Government Systems and vice president of Eastman Kodak. The remainder of BAE Systems’ gift will be used for instructional laboratory enhancements, and a $25,000 gift from IBM will assist the Watson School in faculty recruitment and development.

“This gift will greatly assist in supporting our newly hired faculty with their research, and advance our national reputation,” Westgate said. “We have been most fortunate in recruiting outstanding young faculty to the school, and it is vital that we help them succeed.” “IBM is pleased to support the growth of the Watson School in both size and stature,” said Diana Bendz, senior location executive of IBM Corp. in Endicott.

“Recruiting and retaining key faculty is essential to this growth.” Westgate said the gifts recognize the school’s advancement over its 20-year history into a leading engineering institution that plays a critical role in economic development throughout New York state and beyond. “I especially appreciate the generosity of our friends who face real challenges in today’s economy but who recognize the importance of this investment in the future of the school,” Westgate said.  

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Last Updated: 10/14/08