Page 24 - Marist Magazine Fall 2012

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ohn Scileppi has achieved a lot between
delivering the valedictory to his Marist
class in 1967 and celebrating his 45th reunion
this past September. He earned MA and PhD
degrees in social psychology from Loyola
University in Chicago and undertook a
41-year college teaching career. As a young
man, he founded an innovative school
in Chicago and served as academic vice
president of the Oglala Sioux Community
College on the Pine Ridge Reservation in
South Dakota.
At Marist, he attained the rank of full
professor and, among other leadership roles,
served as director of the MA in psychology
program and chair of psychology during his
39-year tenure at the College. The recipient
of two coveted Marist honors, the Faculty
Service Award and the Outstanding Teacher
Award, Scileppi stepped down from full-time
teaching this past spring. He is writing his
sixth book and hopes to teach some classes
in community psychology this spring that
would include a trip to Ghana.
Then there is his full personal life. He
and Dr. Lynn Ruggiero, a psychologist and
Class of ’76 alumna, have been married 30
years and are the proud parents of Luke, 22.
Contributing To Preserve
the Marist Spirit
The professor’s involvement with commu-
nity organizations includes service with the
Anderson Center for Autism, Rehabilitation
Programs of Dutchess County, and Compeer,
a program of Mental Health America. He
is also a volunteer at the local library and a
lector and special minister at Regina Coeli
Parish in his hometown of Hyde Park, NY.
In a recent interview, Scileppi spoke
about his start at Marist, noting with charac-
teristic enthusiasm, “I ammost happy when
alumni write to tell me the great things they
are doing in the field.” This backdrop gives
some context as to why he has been and
continues to be a generous donor to Marist.
What drewyou to the field of psychology?
I had really great mentors at Marist—Dan
Kirk, Ed O’Keefe, and Bill Eidle. All three
were both caring and demanding. They
frequently set high standards, and many of
my classmates and I strove to meet them.
Proportionally, a high percentage of our psy-
chology majors that year went on to attain
PhDs—over half of us. I thought psychol-
ogy offered a great way to help people and
to change the world.
What brought you back to Marist, and
what was it like then?
In 1973, Dan Kirk wrote to me about
the new Community Psychology Graduate
Program and he invited me to teach in it. I
jumped at the opportunity. At the time, all
faculty and staff knew one another. There was
a strong sense of community on campus, and
of the value of service to the larger commu-
nity. Also each student was treated holisti-
cally as a full person. The faculty frequently
helped to organize and participate in student
activities. I recall religious discussion/hiking
weekends at Hunter Mountain, initiating
honor societies and clubs of various kinds,
sponsoring lectures and socials, etc. These
activities were done as a natural part of the
College’s value climate.
Why did you start supporting theMarist
Fund, some 30 years ago?
I believe strongly in Marist College! It
has been my alma mater and where I have
focused the bulk of my energies as an adult.
In addition, when foundations evaluate
which proposals to fund, commitment to
the institution by faculty, staff, and alumni
is a criterion highly valued. After all, why
should they support a college if the college
community is not doing so?
What prompted you recently to initiate a
charitable gift annuity at Marist?
I am at a point in my life when I want to
make a major contribution. The charitable
gift annuity makes this easy to do. My cur-
rent style of life is not adversely affected by
this contribution. Instead of keeping the
money in a bank account paying a relatively
low rate of interest, I can donate the funds
to Marist and at my age receive a nearly 5
percent annual return for as long as I live.
Those slightly older than me will get a higher
rate of return.
In addition, I will receive a tax break
for a portion of the contribution. True, the
contribution goes to the College when I die,
but I don’t expect to have much need for it
then. Of course, I have other funds to pass
on to my wife and son. I expect that when
reviewing my financial situation after my full
retirement in two years, I may find myself
able to make another charitable gift annuity.
A final incentive: donations made prior to
December 31 of this year make me eligible
to become a Founding Member of the newly
established Marist Legacy Society.
What would you say to others that might
encourage them to look into this form
of giving?
Paraphrasing a classic typing course
assignment, “Now is the proper time for all
good alumni and staff to rally around Marist
B y S ha i l e e n Ko p e c
Shaileen Kopec is Marist’s senior development
officer for planned giving and endowment support.
Dr. John Scileppi, professor of psychology
Al Nowak/On Location
M a r i s t
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