Supporters Like You

Read about supporters who are transforming students’ lives through Christ-centered learning.

Richard G. Staley ’62

Grove City College’s central academic building was rededicated on May 14 as the Staley Hall of Arts and Letters in honor of distinguished and generous alumnus Richard G. Staley ’62.

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The hall’s new namesake said he was humbled. “Growing up in the Allegheny Valley, I could never have dreamed of the impact this college would have on my life, nor that I would be successful enough to one day give back in this way,” Staley told a crowd of well-wishers at the dedication ceremony.

A native of Natrona Heights, Pa., Staley is the founder of Flavor House, Inc., a West Coast-based developer and manufacturer of unique flavors found in many popular products.

Last year he donated $4 million to Grove City College via appreciated stock and real estate – the largest unrestricted gift in the College’s history. Unrestricted gifts enhance the ability to manage both the challenges of today and the strategic opportunities of tomorrow, from scholarships to unanticipated expenses, such as those related to the pandemic. Additionally, making his gift via appreciated stock and real estate allowed Staley to avoid capital gains tax on these assets.

Staley is one of the College’s most generous supporters. Previous gifts in support of entrepreneurship and the sciences are recognized by a named laboratory in STEM Hall and the Richard G. Staley ’62 Visionary Entrepreneurship Lecture Series.

To recognize his willingness and ability to provide a strong financial foundation for the College’s future, the Board of Trustees approved renaming the Hall of Arts and Letters for Staley. Built in 2002, the hall is a classroom and academic office building on the east side of campus that serves as the home of the Alva J. Calderwood School of Arts and Letters.

“Buildings represent so much more than the bricks and mortar that they are,” Grove City College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 said. Staley Hall of Arts and Letters is the home of the College’s humanities core, a place where students from every major take classes in civilization, literature, and history and gain the knowledge to develop wisdom and a worldview. “A lot of lives have been transformed in classrooms in this building,” he said.

McNulty hailed Staley’s success and generosity. “He took the fruit of his great accomplishment and brought it back to his alma mater,” McNulty said.

“It brings me great joy to know that the principles of faith and freedom are being preserved in this building and that future teachers, ethical business leaders, innovative entrepreneurs, and more will continue to be equipped here for many years to come,” Staley said.

Alexander Slavcoff ’27

Born more than a century ago in Bulgaria, Alexander Slavcoff ’27 (1900-1983) came to Grove City College via New York, where he arrived nearly broke and took on any work he could find, and Youngstown, Ohio, where he worked in various jobs and learned English – at the age of 20 – with a class of eighth graders.

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Twenty years later, he had graduated from medical school and was on his way to building a successful urology practice in Harrisburg. With his wife, fellow Grover Dorothy Strain ’29 (1908–1993), he raised two children – Louise (Slavcoff ’56) Baird and John Slavcoff ’60 – and began a family legacy of philanthropy and service to the College.

Dr. Slavcoff achieved the American dream through hard work, thrift, and enterprise, but he could not have made it without the help of others. His journey to America and education presented huge financial challenges for a hard-working young man from a poor village who, when asked once by a loan officer what collateral he had, answered: “I own the clothes I am wearing.”

A $200 loan from a family friend in Bulgaria who had found success in America financed Dr. Slavcoff’s journey to the U.S. He worked his way through Grove City College, but it would cost a lot more than he could make working at a greenhouse to get through medical school. After he was turned down for a loan at one bank in town, a banker from the other took a chance on the ambitious immigrant and co-signed the note.

In 1930, with the country in the depths of the Depression, jobs for a new college graduate like Dorothy Strain were scarce and Slavcoff, a penniless medical student with a growing debt of $11,000 – a little more than $200,000 today – might not have seemed like a good prospect. Even so, she accepted his proposal. It was the beginning of a 54-year love affair of a marriage.

As Dr. Slavcoff finished medical school, went to work at a state hospital and later into private practice, paying off the medical school loan was a priority. By 1946, it was done and the Slavcoffs began “paying it forward” by sending care packages to Bulgaria. In the 1950s, the family developed deeper ties to Grove City College and started sponsoring international students. Dr. Slavcoff served on the Board of Trustees, a role his daughter and granddaughter Allyson (Baird ’88) Sveda would later share.

“Dad’s appreciation for the opportunities he had been given to achieve his ambition … and the values he saw expressed at the College when they spent time on campus combined to make him want to help other immigrants go to Grove City College,” John Slavcoff said in a letter outlining his parents’ legacy.

“Alexander Slavcoff’s life was a pattern of hard work followed by unanticipated opportunities and reward,” his son observed. Dorothy, he said, “was part and parcel of everything Dad did.”

The Dr. Alexander Slavcoff ’27 and Dorothy Strain Slavcoff ’29 Memorial Scholarship Fund is one of more than 400 named scholarships available to Grove City College students, two-thirds of whom receive financial aid through the College.

“It brings me great joy to know that the principles of faith and freedom are being preserved in this building and that future teachers, ethical business leaders, innovative entrepreneurs, and more will continue to be equipped here for many years to come.”

-Richard G. Staley ’62, Grove City College Supporter

Don McConnaughy ’63

“There are lots of places to invest your resources these days, but I think it’s wise to consider a Charitable Gift Annuity. It’s the least I could do for all the difference Grove City College has made in my life.”

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From an early age, Don McConnaughy’s ’63 first love was emergency medical services. When the fire whistle blew, he would run down the alley to open the doors for the firemen. Don was driven to help others and continued to do so through his high school and college years. 

He ended up at Grove City College in most part due to the fact that a distant relative was an alumnus and had returned as a professor of economics, Robert Anderson ’57. “Grove City College was my only choice, and I’m really glad it worked out,” said Don. And he found Grove City College to be supportive of his desire to serve others. “The College allowed the phone company to run a line with a bell into my room so I could be notified for medical service calls.” 

Don has so many fond memories of campus and the people. It was relatively close to his home in Beaver, Pa., and he really liked the personal interaction as opposed to simply just being another number. After graduation, Don spent time in the accounting field with Owens-Illinois Inc. before taking a detour to end up as Chief of Emergency Medical Services for the City of Maumee, Ohio where he and his late wife lived. 

 

These days Don relies on the GeDunk magazine to bring back good memories and give him a glimpse into how the College is changing.  “There are a lot of uncertainties facing us today, and the fact that Grove City College does not accept any federal funding is a big reason why they are where they are today and why I continue to support the College,” said Don. He feels today’s graduates are prepared to navigate the world they will face.

When he was contacted by an Advancement Office staff member, Don was ready to become part of supporting the College and provide himself with monthly income. “There are lots of places to invest your resources these days, but I think it’s wise to consider a Charitable Gift Annuity. It’s the least I could do for all the difference Grove City College has made in my life.” 

John Giesmann and Lois (Giesmann ’68) Strycula

“Christian faith was integral to their education, not just an after-thought or empty promotional rhetoric,” said John. “The College prepared our kids for great careers, and it also expanded their world, encouraged them to live lives of service to others and positioned them for the joy of a lifetime of learning.”

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Grove City College was a good neighbor to Carl and Mildred Giesmann. Having grown up just outside Grove City, Carl and Mildred raised two children here: John Giesmann and Lois (Giesmann ’68) Strycula. They operated Carl’s photography studio, located near the corner of Broad Street and College Avenue and lower campus, from 1963 until his retirement around 1980. Years later, Carl and Mildred decided to establish the Carl and Mildred Giesmann Scholarship Endowment at the College with a legacy gift through their estate.

Carl and Mildred were leaders in the Scotch Hill United Presbyterian Church just a few miles east of town.

 Watching closely as the College fought against the intrusion of the federal government while remaining committed to the Christian faith of its founders, Carl and Mildred saw over time that the College was serious about providing an authentically Christian education for its students. 

“It was through the cumulative daily actions over a long period of time that the College showed faithfulness to my parents,” said son John.  

John, a Westminster College graduate who recently retired after a successful career as a higher education administrator, and his wife, Susan, fittingly have two children who both graduated from Grove City College, Matthew ’13 and Anna (Giesmann ’15) Li. 

“My parents’ faith was always very important to them and Grove City demonstrated over time that Christian faith was integral to their education, not just an after-thought or empty promotional rhetoric,” said John. “The College prepared our kids for great careers, and it also expanded their world, encouraged them to live lives of service to others and positioned them for the joy of a lifetime of learning.”

Education was highly valued in Carl’s family growing up. After graduating from Grove City High School in 1933, Carl went to work at Cooper Bessemer to help provide for his family in the Great Depression after his mother had passed away. Mildred was able to earn a teaching certificate from Slippery Rock Normal School and later taught in a one-room schoolhouse within sight of her parents’ farmhouse. Years later, Carl had the opportunity to serve on the Grove City School Board.

“They felt, and I have always felt, that Grove City was a great place to live, to raise a family, to grow up,” said John. “The College was a significant part of that great community.” 

Carl and Mildred Giesmann had a good neighbor in Grove City College and left a lasting legacy through their scholarship endowment. John and Susan, now the parents of Grove City College alumni, have chosen to continue this family legacy by contributing to the family’s Carl and Mildred Giesmann Scholarship Endowment. 

“Even though we aren’t Grovers, we see the great value of a Grove City education in so many ways in our children and in our daughter-in-law, Amber (Durkee ’13),” said John. “Susan and I are thrilled that Matthew and Anna chose Grove City, and we’re pleased that my parents chose this way to support the College.”

“There are a lot of uncertainties facing us today, and the fact that Grove City College does not accept any federal funding is a big reason why they are where they are today and why I continue to support the College.”

-Don McConnaughy ’63, Grove City College Supporter

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