SUNY Oswego's popular summertime educational enrichment program will touch the lives of many more schoolchildren for generations to come, thanks to a $1 million gift from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation to expand the institute and rename it the "Sheldon Institute for Barbara Shineman Scholars."

SUNY Oswego professor emerita and alumna Dr. Barbara Palmer Shineman helped establish the Sheldon Institute 40 years ago this summer. She personally developed its curriculum for young students and delivered teacher training for those leading the institute's programming each year. The institute currently serves 130 children in 2nd through 10th grades during its annual two weeks of academic and cultural programs.

The gift to the Oswego College Foundation, from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation that Barbara Shineman established in her late husband's memory, will generate $40,000 annually -- more than doubling the program’s operating budget, enhancing the learning experience, growing its reach and increasing access through need-based scholarships.

“I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to Barbara -- one of our most loyal and dedicated alumni and an exceptional teacher," said college President Deborah F. Stanley. "For four decades, she has contributed to the institute’s success through her curriculum development and her unwavering support of the children, sharing in their excitement at learning new subject areas and encouraging their hands-on, minds-on exploration of diverse subjects. We thank the Shineman Foundation for its investment in that most precious of resources -- our children.”

At its most recent meeting, the SUNY Board of Trustees approved the Shineman Foundation's gift to rename the program, on recommendation of SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson.

SUNY Chairman of the Board H. Carl McCall said, “Dr. Barbara Shineman has given SUNY Oswego so much -- inspiring her students to be great teachers, and us all to participate in service to the greater community. Dr. Shineman’s commitment is seemingly limitless, guiding the Shineman Foundation to provide truly transformative resources that strengthen the Oswego community and the region.”

Chancellor Johnson said, “Housed on the SUNY Oswego campus, the Sheldon Institute was established by Dr. Barbara Shineman to create a challenging and innovative learning experience for regional school-aged children. It stands today due in large part to her ongoing commitment and financial support. It is an honor to recognize her with the naming of the 'Sheldon Institute for Barbara Shineman Scholars' at SUNY Oswego.”

Growing demand

Stanley noted that applications for the institute grow each year, as children and parents hear about its exemplary model for advancing educational experiences across disciplines in a summer setting. The Shineman Foundation gift will enable addition of a second session, enrollment of more students, creation of new and expanded offerings in diverse interest areas, generation of more opportunities for the college's undergraduate and graduate students to work as teachers and teachers' aides at the institute, and more.

Dr. Barbara Palmer ShinemanThe gift and the institute's naming are timed to honor Barbara Shineman on her 90th birthday in April. A SUNY Oswego School of Education graduate in 1965 and master's degree recipient in 1971, Shineman, after earning her doctorate at Syracuse University, taught at SUNY Oswego in curriculum and instruction until her retirement in 1989. Her associations with the Campus School and the Sheldon Institute, in particular, have provided her with years of fond memories.

"I am so honored to support the foundation's gift," Barbara Shineman said. "I love the Sheldon Institute. I am thrilled to be a part of this vital program's past and its future. I know there are parents who would love to have their children attend but who can't afford it, and the opportunity to expand the institute and its resources will allow more students to attend. And I like that this program is something that SUNY Oswego's own teachers-to-be can continue to contribute to, perhaps  in greater numbers."

The Shineman Foundation's chair, Kathy Fenlon, said the expanded Sheldon Institute for Barbara Shineman Scholars is the kind of community-building, educationally rich project the foundation encourages.

“The mission of the Shineman Foundation is to be a catalyst for change, and this is a true example of that promise,” said Kathy Fenlon, chair of the foundation’s Board of Directors. “This widens the educational opportunities for children in Oswego County during the summer months, and is a wonderful way to honor Barbara Shineman, who has been with the institute since its early days.”

The Sheldon Institute has for nearly four decades honored the legacy of college founder Edward Austin Sheldon, who was recognized around the world as a visionary in teacher education. Originally conceived as a program for gifted and talented students nominated by their 4th- through 6th-grade teachers, the Sheldon Institute initially offered classes in art, biology, creative communications, electronics, industrial arts, math and music. At its founding in 1978, students participated in two subjects per two-week session.

Children at the Sheldon Institute explore the greenhouse atop the Richard S. Shineman Center.

Photo caption: Children at the Sheldon Institute for Barbara Shineman Scholars explore the greenhouse atop the Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation during a recent summer program.

In the early 1980s, the format changed to an all-day, two-week program, expanding to reach youths in 2nd through 10th grades who come from varying abilities, life experiences and backgrounds. In 2015, the Tarandi Foundation -- established by the late Oswego physicians Ravindra and Manjula Shah -- expanded opportunities for children from low-income families with a $50,000 gift to establish the Sheldon Institute Endowed Fund.

Today, hands-on projects in cooking, martial arts, wellness, and the arts excite the imaginations of students, reduce "summer setback" and help combat childhood obesity. For older children, such classes as computer animation, aerodynamics, robotics, renewable energy, video production and game design lead to a deeper understanding of mathematics and scientific concepts, which lays the foundation for our young people to strengthen their skills in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines.

Experiences at the institute also familiarize children with the SUNY Oswego campus, and plant the seeds of thought for a future college education.

The Shineman Foundation's gift to the Oswego College Foundation follows by five years a $4 million grant -- and an additional $1 million gift from Barbara Shineman -- to name the Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation, create an endowed chair in chemistry, and provide educational and cultural opportunities, including science programs and faculty research and initiatives.