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Sam '62 and Joann Castronovo

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A Gift in Honor of His 50th Reunion
Fall 2016

Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Sam Castronovo ’62 was encouraged from an early age to pursue higher education. His father, an immigrant from Sicily, instilled in Sam a belief that an education would create better career and financial opportunities. A high school counselor suggested Sam consider MIT for college, but he felt uncomfortable attending large classes taught primarily by graduate assistants. When he learned about Clarkson’s supportive community and small classes taught by full professors, Sam knew Potsdam was the place for him, despite never visiting campus. Sam quickly learned how cold the Potsdam climate could be when, in September of his freshman year, he left a white tee shirt and khaki pants out the window to dry, only to return to frozen clothes.

The initial shock of being away from home in a cold climate soon gave way to a love for the Clarkson experience. Sam joined Clarkson’s community becoming a member of Phi Kappa Phi fraternity and being inducted into Chi Epsilon. Since his dorm room was dead-center on his floor, his classmates gravitated towards his room and nominated him for floor president, a part of Student Council. Today, he still stays in touch with many of his classmates and fraternity brothers. While at Clarkson, Sam also met his wife, Joann Carrington, a student at SUNY Potsdam. They married in 1962 and together have three children.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Sam accepted a position with the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) in Rochester. A few months later, the Castronovos moved from Rochester to California where Sam worked for the California DOT for three years. To be closer to family, they relocated to Michigan where Sam transitioned to the Michigan DOT. There, the Castronovo family pursued further education. Joann earned a BA from Michigan State and an MA from Oakload Univeristy, both in education. Sam went on to earn both an MS and PhD in civil engineering also from Michigan State, all while their three children also pursued college degrees.

With 27 years of service with the Michigan DOT, Sam took an early retirement and began consulting with a small firm based out of Chicago, which was eventually acquired by AECOM. He proudly recounts that he opened the office and helped grow it from two employees to 65 by the time he left. After 15 years in consulting, Sam has officially retired from AECOM as a VP with a career designing and constructing roads, bridges, and transit infrastructure spanning a total of 49 years.

Reflecting on his long career, Sam says, “Everything I have is because of my career, which is based on my education.” That gratitude led Sam and Joann to fund the Famigghia Castronovo/Carrington Scholarship Endowment.  This endowed fund will benefit full-time undergraduate students. The first award will be made in fall 2017.  

Earlier, Sam and Joann funded a gift annuity that will be added to the scholarship when the annuity terminates. Their decision to establish a gift they could realize now in addition to the annuity was the result of a desire to see the impact of their philanthropy. Sam and Joann appreciated that the Annie Clarkson Society staff worked closely with them. They says that the staff “explained all of our options, and we went from there.”

When thinking about his philanthropy, Sam states that since he and his family have had their opportunities to pursue education, “why shouldn’t someone else?” Thanks to their support, Clarkson students will benefit from their generosity for years to come.