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For Immediate Release
November 27, 2007

For more information, contact
Nicholas Mascari

Hunter Institute on Young Children Established

Gift Supports the Study of Early Childhood Education

Press Release Photo President Halstead; Wil and Judy Hunter; Kathleen Peterson-Sweeney, director, Hunter Institute; Christine Murray, dean, School of Professions

Brockport, NY – Pre-school aged children will be the benefactors of the newly established Hunter Institute on Young Children at The College at Brockport.

Established with both a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) and a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA) from Willard and Judith Hunter, the Institute will focus on the numerous issues that pre-school and elementary school teachers face daily. “We purposely funded this Institute with a CRT and a CGA so we can be involved in its inception and growth while guaranteeing its long term future and success” said Mr. Hunter.

“Young children will benefit greatly thanks to the generosity of Wil and Judy Hunter,” said College at Brockport President John Halstead.

“We hope the work of the Institute will result in a better understanding of how young children learn and how to help them in the classroom. Pre-school education is critically important to a child’s future. If we can teach young children to be comfortable in the classroom, they will gain significant self esteem and will be able to accomplish virtually any goal they set for themselves, academically, physically and socially,” said Judy Hunter, a pre-school teacher for 20 years at the Ogden (NY) Community Christian Pre-School until her retirement in 1999. Judy is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, Class of 1965.

Wil Hunter is the retired president and CEO of Optem, a Rochester-based custom optical instrument design and manufacturing company he co-founded in 1984 following a 19-year career with Bausch and Lomb Inc. He has been active in many of The College at Brockport’s activities, having previously funded the restoration of the Department of Theatre’s piano and having donated a confocal microscope accessory to the Department of Biological Sciences. He has been a member of The Brockport Foundation Board since 1990, serving as its chairman from 2001 to 2003. Wil is a graduate of Dickinson College, Class of 1963.

For its initial program, the Institute will conduct a one-day conference for educators, faculty and college students focusing on early childhood education. The conference, intended to become an annual event, will address critical issues in childhood education, such as supporting the home environment to foster education, identifying challenges to learning in young children, and insuring healthy environments for learning. The Institute also will foster collaboration between the College at Brockport and the early childhood professional community. Longer range plans call for the creation of a college-level, credit-bearing course.

Funding also will support an annual student assistantship for a College at Brockport student to work within the Institute.

Kathy Peterson-Sweeney, PhD, associate professor of nursing, will be the first director of the Hunter Institute. She has been on the faculty of The College at Brockport since 1985, teaching in the area of pediatric nursing. She also is a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital and has more than twenty-five years experience in pediatric nursing. She also served as a curriculum specialist for the Childhealth Education Program for child care providers, funded for many years by the United Way of Rochester.

“My goal as director of the Hunter Institute is to create an interdisciplinary approach to issues of young children that will enable faculty to collaborate on common areas of interest and to share that knowledge with early childhood educators and child-care providers throughout the greater Rochester region,” she said.

The College at Brockport, State University of New York
350 New Campus Drive * Brockport, New York 14420-2931
(585) 395-2754 * FAX (585) 395-2723 *

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