My mom was a life-long learner long before that term had ever been coined. Even throughout her retirement she read the New York Times daily, listened to National Public Radio, watched several news shows a day, and continued to read about the periods of history she had focused on in her teaching days.

Applicants for working papers at Department of Education Bldg. Boston, Mass, October 1909

A a lifelong learner, she was passionate about the power of education. And as the first generation in her family to attend college, she understood all too well how it opened up possibilities that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

Her students, teaching, and education were central to who she was. During her memorial service we joked about how, even in retirement, she continued to teach people that she encountered everywhere (laundromats, campgrounds, grocery stores), even when they didn’t think they needed instruction.

After her retirement, my mom watched in concern as tuition costs for higher education rose, especially those for public higher education. I remember her distress about the decreasing state support for public universities: NY State tax dollars now provide only about 12% of the support for the total budget at the State University of New York at Oneonta– these trends resulted in a huge decrease from the support levels of about 80% that characterized public higher education 20 years ago.  It was clear to her that tuition levels had risen significantly to fill the budget gaps left by decreasing state support. As a result, she was very concerned that access to higher education was becoming even more limited for those from the middle and working classes.

SUNY Tuition Over Time

So after my mom’s death, given her passion for students and education, it was never a question for our family that a scholarship to support the values that she championed would be an important way to solidify her legacy. I know that she would be pleased to be able to make college possible for students confronting significant financial barriers posed by the cost of tuition.


Interested in Donating to the Scholarship?

Checks can be made out to the “College at Oneonta Foundation” memo: “Dr. Joan Iversen Memorial Scholarship”-mail to: Office of College Advancement, 308 Netzer Admin Bldg, Oneonta, NY 13820.

To give to the scholarship online, go to the College at Oneonta Foundation Giving Page and choose “Other” under Designation for Funds and specify “Dr. Joan Iversen Memorial Scholarship” in the text box after “Other.”

The College at Oneonta Foundation will be updating me periodically about who has given. But I would love it if there weren’t a lag in receiving that information. So if you’ve given and would be willing to let me acknowledge your gift online in some way (full name, first name only, anonymous, or whatever) please send me an email at smythnj at gmail dot com.

~ By Nancy Smyth, Dr. Joan Iversen’s daughter, on behalf of Jack Iversen and then entire Iversen-Smyth clan.

Photo credits: #1: from the US National Archives on Flickr, and #2: by Stephanie Amesse on Flickr