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Helen Snell Cheel

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A Humanitarian Totally Devoted to Clarkson
April 2005

President Tony Collins announced in April 2005 a bequest to Clarkson University of approximately $27 million from the estate of Helen Snell Cheel.

Mrs. Cheel was the primary benefactor for the Cheel Campus Center, the Cheel Arena, and Bertrand H. Snell Hall, a world-class academic facility named in honor of her father. Of the final estate dispersal to Clarkson, $11 million was set aside to fulfill previous pledges for these projects. The additional balance of approximately $16 million in her final bequest was added to the Clarkson endowment.

"Mrs. Cheel was a beloved friend of Clarkson who derived great pleasure from the transforming gifts she made to the institution during her lifetime," commented President Collins. "Her extraordinary financial support of Clarkson was surpassed only by the extraordinary friendships she developed with so many individuals associated with the University."

Mrs. Cheel's nephew, W. Hollis Petersen, a Clarkson trustee, shared the bequest news during a visit with President Collins. Mr. Petersen commented, "It all started with my grandfather, Bertrand Snell, a very successful entrepreneur who lived in Potsdam for most of his life. He felt privileged to serve the North Country in Congress for many years. This responsibility spilled over into the local Potsdam community with his commitment to Clarkson during its formative years."

"My grandfather instilled this same sense of community in his two daughters, Helen and Sara. My aunt, Helen Snell Cheel, certainly honored this tradition and provided substantial support to Clarkson during more recent years. She was a true humanitarian totally devoted to Clarkson," Mr. Petersen added.

President Collins remarked, "This magnificent gift does not write the final chapter of Helen Cheel's generosity to Clarkson, but rather keeps the pages of her life with Clarkson forever open to reflect her compassionate spirit each year through the initiatives this endowment will fund as part of our ongoing evolution to excellence. Every future Clarkson student will benefit from Mrs. Cheel's boundless generosity."

Trustee Petersen added, "This is especially gratifying for me because I now wear two hats. As a family member, I was pleased to deliver the good news to President Collins; but also, as a trustee and member of the Investment and Budget committees, I can appreciate the enormous positive impact this gift will have on our campus."

At commencement exercises in 1995, Helen Snell Cheel received an honorary degree for her lifetime loyalty, her profound generosity, and her magnificent contributions to the quality of campus life at the University.

Footnote: Helen Cheel passed away in 2005. This article is published in thanks and admiration to a dear Clarkson friend.