Planned Giving

Alumna Says ‘Go for It'

Dr. Kathryn Sykes, Jeffrey Sykes and their mom, Sue Sykes

(L-R) Dr. Kathryn Sykes, Jeffrey Sykes and their mom, Sue Sykes

Gift Inspires Adults to Further Their Education
Suzanne Sykes and her late husband, Donald, founded Marpac Industries Inc. in 1967. Marpac manufactured plastic containers with offices in Waldwick, N.J., and manufacturing sites in New York, California, Oklahoma and Ireland. After selling the company in 1998, Sue enrolled at Ramapo as a returning adult student. She earned her degree in American Studies in 2006 and remains very active with her alma mater.

Sue participates in the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), which provides small business mentoring and training, and is a member of the Alumni Advisory Board of the Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies. She established the Sykes Family Scholarship to benefit other returning adult students who are pursuing American Studies at Ramapo.

Can you tell us about your background?
My early years were definitely somewhat below the "economic middle class" as were my husband's. Donald's parents borrowed money to send him to college, opening up incredible opportunities. When we were married in 1960, Donald's college education enabled him to pursue a career in chemistry. Hard work and strong motivation were required, but that diploma was the pivotal factor that changed our lives forever. When he took early retirement from his first career to establish our business, his chemistry background and my work experience as a secretary, bank accounting clerk and small business general manager came together to enable us to grow our $3,000 investment into a multimillion-dollar corporation with nearly 200 employees.

What was your motivation in attending Ramapo and establishing this scholarship?
As we neared retirement age, I began to feel that in spite of my success as his life and business partner all those years, I still had no exterior validation. With my husband's encouragement, I enrolled in a few college courses and became a part-time college student, while continuing as president of our company. It took 11 years, but I finally achieved that diploma in May 2006. I chose to make this endowment for a returning student because I would like to know that others may experience the feeling of accomplishment and subsequent opportunity that can only come with earning a precious college diploma.

What was your most memorable experience as a student?
The encouragement of the faculty was probably the most surprising and most meaningful for me. I had some initial concern about how I would be accepted by other students, but it had not occurred to me how the professors might feel about an older student. I was put at ease and never felt uncomfortable. On several occasions, professors told me that they appreciated my presence in their classes because it "changed the dynamics" and brought fresh perspectives. Needless to say, I was delighted. What advice would you like to pass on to other returning adult students? Above all, just go for it and enjoy every enriching class! And bring your kids and grandkids to your graduation. I did, and they loved it!

Editor's note: The first recipient of the Sykes Family Scholarship is Kristin Knudsen. Kristin was born in Bad Ischl, Austria and now lives in Hillburn, New York. She attended Marymount Manhattan College before enrolling at Ramapo and is a certified interior designer. At Ramapo, Kristin is majoring in literature and has a 3.95 grade point average.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to The Ramapo College Foundation a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to The Ramapo College Foundation, a nonprofit corporation currently located at , or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to The Ramapo College Foundation or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to The Ramapo College Foundation as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to The Ramapo College Foundation as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and The Ramapo College Foundation where you agree to make a gift to The Ramapo College Foundation and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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