SUNY Poly Foundation Announces $75,000 in New Donations to Establish Endowed Scholarships to Foster Student Success

The SUNY Poly Foundation is announcing a total of $75,000 in donations from three sets of individuals to establish merit-based scholarship programs and further defray educational costs for undergraduate students attending SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly). Overall, the scholarships, detailed below, aim to ensure that students who have a history of strong academic efforts, financial need, and who come from historically underserved or marginalized communities  will still be able to find success as they engage with SUNY Poly’s hands-on programs to build toward exciting, in-demand careers.

In addition, an anonymous donor has provided additional funds to match up to $25,000 in donations made during SUNY Poly’s annual Day of Giving, scheduled for April 14, 2022.

“I am inspired to see the SUNY Poly Foundation receive these funds to establish three endowed scholarships, each of which will positively impact high-achieving students who could benefit from financial support in order to complete their degrees,” said SUNY Poly Acting President Dr. Tod A. Laursen. “I am grateful to family and friends (including SUNY Poly faculty and staff) of the late Professor Michael Hochberg, Drs. Naseem and Salahuddin Qazi, and SUNY Poly Chief Operating Officer Mike Frame for not only providing tangible support to facilitate student success, but for also inspiring others to participate in SUNY Poly’s growing culture of giving. These donors provide excellent examples of how our own community answers the call to meet the needs of our students, and I encourage others who may be inspired by this generosity to show how they too can make a difference in students’ lives.”

“I am extremely grateful to everyone who has provided funding to establish these incredibly important endowed scholarships, which will allow SUNY Poly students to reach beyond barriers to accomplish their dreams,” said SUNY Poly Foundation Chair Stephen Teti. “The SUNY Poly Foundation is always proud to enable career readiness, and the generosity underpinning these scholarships is likely to inspire others, including SUNY Poly faculty, staff, and alumni, to give—no matter the size—to make a difference in the lives of countless SUNY Poly students.”

The Robert and Mary Ford Scholarship Fund

With the intent to provide scholarship support to help students experiencing unforeseen financial hardship address unmet needs, including housing or books, for example, the Robert and Mary Ford Scholarship Fund is not only aimed at supporting success for students of all backgrounds, it has also been established to further encourage SUNY Poly’s faculty, staff, alumni, and others to give from within SUNY Poly’s own family. SUNY Poly Chief Operating Officer Michael Frame has pledged $25,000 to create this endowed scholarship, named in honor of his grandparents, as a way to help students achieve their full potential and encourage additional financial support from others to advance SUNY Poly’s critical academic mission.

This fund will provide inspiring awards to promising students who face financial barriers to educational success at SUNY Poly. More specifically, it is intended to support new students enrolled in the On Point for College (On Point) initiative, which,  since 1999, has served students at SUNY Poly and in a number of surrounding Mohawk Valley counties by providing access, helping them to stay in college, as well as offering career services. Since that time, On Point has served hundreds of SUNY Poly students, including Giovanni Harvey, SUNY Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Ambassador and former Student Government at Utica President, whose story was recently featured by the Washington Post article, “When a sudden, small expense threatens an entire college career.”

The Robert and Mary Ford Scholarship Fund undergraduate awardees will be selected by the SUNY Poly Foundation Executive Director and On Point for College Utica Director based on a preference for awardees being enrolled through On Point for College and having strong academic achievement, as well as exceptional promise to complete their undergraduate educational degrees.

The Michael and Valorie Hochberg Scholarship

SUNY Poly Foundation has also received an endowed scholarship in memory of the late Dr. Michael Hochberg, Professor of Biology and Chemistry. The Michael and Valorie Hochberg Endowed Scholarship of $25,000 has been funded by his family, with significant support from faculty and staff at SUNY Poly. Upon Professor Hochberg’s passing in 2021, his family directed all donations be made to the SUNY Poly Foundation to continue Dr. Hochberg’s legacy of uplifting students. 

This scholarship fund will provide awards for undergraduates enrolled in biology; associate’s degree to bachelor’s degree in nursing (RN to BSN); and/or the dual degree (1+2+1) nursing partnership program with St. Elizabeth College of Nursing—and who receive a merit scholarship from SUNY Poly while maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Dr. Hochberg began working at SUNY Poly in January 1974 with an interest in studying biochemical pathways in Neurospora crassa, a type of red bread mold, and how it related to reproduction and circadian oscillations, in addition to the Peptidoglycan Lattice chemical structure in the cell walls of gram-negative bacteria in an aqueous environment using biochemical and neutron scattering experimental techniques. He served as the Interim Dean for the College of Arts & Sciences in 2002. As a professorhe reached countless students while teaching cell biology, genetics, advanced physiology, nutritional health, immunology, epidemiology, meteorology, and ecology.

The Dr. Naseem Qazi and Dr. Salahuddin Qazi Scholarship

A new $25,000 endowed scholarship has also been established by Dr. Naseem Qazi and Dr. Salahuddin Qazi, Professor Emeritus. This endowed scholarship will provide funds for undergraduate students enrolled in SUNY Poly STEM programs, with preference for those with financial need, a disability, and/or those who have a refugee background.

Dr. Naseem Qazi is a Professor Emeritus at SUNY Poly after having served as associate professor of electrical engineering technology (EET) for nearly 23 years, starting in 1984 when she was the only female Ph.D. in EET. Before this time, she served as an adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University. Naseem was actively involved in research in the areas of Electrical CAD and computer vision, leading to efforts to develop an improved process for the human eye to control a computer to facilitate independence for those with disabilities. She has several publications during her career and presented in professional  conferences. At SUNY Poly, she continued her pioneering efforts to support women in STEM by collaborating with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Naseem helped refugees in her free time, acted as an interpreter for them, and volunteered for the Utica Red Cross. Currently, she volunteers for charitable and technical organizations.

Dr. Sala (Salahuddin) Qazi is a Professor Emeritus at SUNY Poly after having served as a faculty member for nearly 30 years. During his tenure at SUNY Poly, he was chairman of the EET department, coordinator of the B.S program in photonics, and Director of the M.S. program in advanced technology, which he helped to develop. After retiring, he authored a book on “Standalone Photovoltaic (PV) Systems for Disaster Relief and Remote Areas,” published by Elsevier Inc. He is the recipient of several awards, including the William Goodell award for research creativity at SUNY Poly; he was recognized by the Mohawk Valley Engineering Executive Committee for engineering professionalism; and he forged closer relations with the IEEE Mohawk Valley section. Sala is still active in numerous research and philanthropic efforts. Recently, he made a joint presentation in a virtual workshop at the 18th International IEEE—HONET 2021 conference on “Smart Communities: Improving Quality of Life using ICT, IoT,” and also helped donate thousands of books to the Library of NED University of Engineering & Technology in Karachi, Pakistan.

Both current and new students are eligible to apply to receive the scholarship by visiting SUNY Poly’s main admissions scholarship web page.

Matching Funds for SUNY Poly’s Annual Day of Giving

In addition to the scholarship funds detailed above, SUNY Poly Foundation is also announcing that during its annual Day of Giving on April 14, 2022, a donor is encouraging others to support student opportunities by matching any financial gifts that are made to the Foundation—up to a total of $25,000. SUNY Poly’s Day of Giving is a 24-hour fundraising campaign encouraging alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of SUNY Poly to contribute in an effort to move the university forward and ensure students meet their educational goals. Unrestricted donations will provide the SUNY Poly Foundation with the flexibility to divert funds where they are needed most to achieve a strategic goal, support an emerging initiative, or address significant or unanticipated student and campus needs. 

Gifts of any amount are deeply appreciated and always impactful. If you would like to establish a scholarship at SUNY Poly, please contact Andrea LaGatta, Assistant Vice President for Development at For other gifts, please visit:

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