Lynn E. Browne, of Batavia, will be the first recipient of the Genesee Community College Foundation's new Alpha Medal of Service, a prestigious honor to be bestowed annually on an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and service to the College, Foundation President Norbert J. Fuest announced today.
The Alpha Award will be presented to Mr. Browne during commencement ceremonies May 21.
Mr. Browne is receiving the award to recognize exceptional volunteer service and philanthropic support over the last decade, Mr. Fuest said. A member of the Genesee Community College Foundation Board of Directors since 1996, he has served as Treasurer and Chair of the Foundation's Finance Committee since 1997.
Under his leadership, the Foundation's assets have risen from about $750,000 to $2.4 million. Mr. Browne was a central figure in most of the Foundation's key initiatives over the last ten years. He was instrumental in guiding the growth of the Foundation's endowment fund, and acquiring and managing Foundation-owned student housing. He has been intimately involved in every Foundation fund raising campaign over the last decade, and has made substantial personal donations in support of fund raising efforts.
"It doesn't matter whether the need is large or small, Lynn is always there," Mr. Fuest said. For a long time, Mr. Fuest recounted, Lynn checked the status of the endowment fund on a daily basis. "He watched out for the Foundation's limited funds as if they were his own," he said. "When it came time to raise funds in support of the Conable Technology Building, Lynn was first in line. When the need for the student union presented itself, Lynn was back in line, and this time promising that he would do whatever it took to line up other support."
Mr. Browne's unwavering commitment to College Village - purchased by the Foundation in 2001 - has resulted in numerous physical and programmatic improvements, as well as full occupancy. "Residents of College Village have Lynn Browne to thank for many of the good things that have happened there over the last 4 Â½ years," Mr. Fuest said.
Mr. Browne's generous financial support complements his enthusiasm and active volunteer efforts, said Mr. Fuest - and most directly affect students. Citing his generosity, "generously into the six figures," according to Mr. Fuest - Lynn Browne's contributions have not only helped the College build two buildings, but have helped students obtain higher education. Mr. Browne has been an active supporter of both the annual scholarship fund and the five-year endowment challenge program completed in 2004, resulting in a special endowment fund that helps deserving students alleviate financial hardship. After meeting students who had received scholarships, Mr. Browne decided to establish an endowed scholarship of his own - The Browne Family Scholarship Fund - in memory of his parents Lew and Rose, his late wife Phyllis, and his late sons Andy and Spencer. "Everything Lynn has done, he has done quietly and with great humility," Mr. Fuest said. "I am sure that many longtime friends of the College have never even met Lynn or realize the extent to which he has supported Genesee."
"On the day that Lynn receives the Alpha Medal, some students who walk across the commencement stage will be there because of this man's generosity and goodness," Mr. Fuest said. "He should be an inspiration to every member of the college community, and to every citizen of this region."
Mr. Browne was born in 1923 in Batavia, and graduated from Batavia High School in 1940, where he was 5th in rank in a class of 228. His father owned a clothing store for many years on Main Street. He attended the University of Pennsylvania where he obtained a business degree and met his future wife, Phyllis. The Browne's made their home in Philadelphia, where Mr. Browne worked in the garment industry and became active in community affairs. He eventually owned one of the nation's leading button distribution companies.
After the unexpected death of his wife more than 15 years ago, Mr. Browne decided to retire and return home - to Batavia. He settled in his family's Batavia home and within two years had immersed himself in a variety of community activities, including the Genesee Community College Foundation. One of the Foundation's board members had invited him to serve as a volunteer on a committee. From that point on, Mr. Browne's involvement with Genesee Community College - and his love of the College - grew, said Mr. Fuest. "He joined the Board and has served on every Foundation committee," he said. "He attends the great majority of all Foundation committee meetings, whether he is a member or not."
The Alpha Medal of Service is a nine-inch crystal tower emblazoned with the seal of the College. Its base bears the name of the recipient. Mr. Fuest asked members of the Foundation Board to nominate extraordinary benefactors of the College for the first Alpha Award. "Within two days, five people called and said that Lynn should be the first recipient."
# # #
Please note: A photograph of Lynn E. Browne is available at the following Internet address:http://marketing.genesee.edu/images/Browne_Lynn.jpg