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09-28-1999

Bertrand H. Snell Hall: The "new Snell" At Clarkson

Potsdam, N.Y.  -- Clarkson University’s new academic building which is currently under construction will be named for the late New York Congressman and longtime Clarkson trustee, Bertrand H. Snell, in recognition of a major gift commitment by Mrs. Harold W. Cheel, his daughter.

“We are thrilled with Mrs. Cheel’s gift. She has, once again, done something so very important for us,” said Clarkson University President Denny Brown. Helen Snell Cheel was also the major benefactor in the Cheel Campus Center project, which is a $14 million combined student center and 3,000-seat multipurpose arena, completed in 1991. “It is also very satisfying to know that the Snell name will always be with us as it should be, considering the profound influence the Snell family has had on Clarkson since its beginnings.”

“Clarkson has always meant a great deal to me and members of my family, so it is most gratifying to assist in this important endeavor,” said Mrs. Cheel. “My involvement in bringing The Campus Center to reality has brought me great satisfaction and much joy. I feel that it has added significantly to the appearance of the campus and to student life.”

The new academic building on the Hill campus is a $14 million priority in The Campaign for Clarkson, a $70 million comprehensive fund-raising effort which was publicly announced in October 1998. To date, $11 million has been raised toward the building, and $35 million has been raised toward the $70 million goal. Philanthropic gifts and grants to the University for the fiscal year ending June 30 also surpassed $10 million.

The new Bertrand H. Snell Hall will be 92,000 square feet of state-of-the-art learning environment. It will house The Schools of Business and Liberal Arts, and three innovative centers for learning – The Center for Excellence in Communication, The Shipley Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, and The Center for Global Competitiveness. “There will be no other building like it that brings such a multi-disciplinary focus to our academic program,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Anthony Collins. “The combination of cross-curricular, leadership, and teamwork opportunities which will take place there will allow for a learning environment that is unmatched.”

When the new building is completed for the fall 2000 semester, Clarkson will have achieved its longstanding goal of complete academic consolidation on the Hill. Downtown Snell Hall-- named after Congressman Snell and his wife Sara-- will continue to house some of the University administration. Clarkson plans to relocate the administration to the Hill campus in the future, which will make the downtown building available for a new enterprise and a new name.

“Mrs. Cheel is an extraordinary woman who has continued the legacy her father began so many years ago at Clarkson,” said Vice President for Institutional Advancement Michael E. Cooper. “The Cheel and Snell family names are synonymous with Clarkson, and will become even more closely identified with the institution as a result of Mrs. Cheel’s magnificent expression of generosity. Bertrand H. Snell Hall on the Hill campus is a fitting name for a one-of-a-kind facility which will deeply impact Clarkson students from every curricula for generations to come.”

Bertrand H. Snell was born in 1870 in Colton, New York, joined the Board of Trustees in 1911, and served as a member for the next 47 years. From 1920 to 1945, he was chairman. A statesman of national fame, he served 24 years in the House of Representatives, and as Republican Minority Leader for eight years. In 1917, he introduced the St. Lawrence Seaway Bill, and is the namesake of the Snell Lock.

In 1927 Congressman Snell and his wife Sara Merrick provided funds to complete the athletic fields at Clarkson which bear his name, the first element in the development of the Hill campus. Between 1953 and 1958 he arranged for and funded the transfer of Snell Hall to Clarkson when the Potsdam State Teachers College moved to its Pierrepont Avenue location.

Mrs. Cheel graduated from the Emma Willard School in Troy, N.Y., The Crane School of Music, and received a B.S. from Columbia University. She has been active in countless philanthropic and educational projects and is an honorary member of the Board of Trustees of Emma Willard School, where she funded a music building and swimming pool complex.

Mrs. Cheel’s late husband, Harold W. Cheel, was a graduate of Yale, successful builder, and residential developer of Cheelcroft in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. The sculpture “Portside” by David Black, located between The Cheel Campus Center and The Center for Advanced Materials Processing building, is a gift from the estate of their son, Bertrand Snell Cheel. Mr. and Mrs. Cheel also gave generously to the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey, where Mrs. Cheel was born.

In 1995, Mrs. Cheel received an honorary degree from Clarkson for “her lifelong loyalty to Clarkson, her profound generosity as a benefactor, and for her magnificent contributions to the quality of campus life at the University.”

Clarkson University is an independent institution located in northern New York in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. The University has 2,745 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in programs in its schools of Engineering, Business, Science, and Liberal Arts.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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