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Generous SUNY Canton Alumnus Paves Path for Success in Canino School Concrete Lab

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Carthage native and 1972 SUNY Canton graduate Donald F. (Don) Garrett and his wife Jamie Rhoads Garrett have made a substantial charitable gift to help future generations of students in the Canino School of Engineering Technology.

The Garretts have pledged $100,000 to the SUNY Canton College Foundation, Inc., securing naming rights for the Civil Engineering Technology lab in Nevaldine South Room 110. Classroom space commonly and colloquially referred to as the concrete lab was renamed the Don '72 and Jamie Garrett Civil Engineering Technology Laboratory on Saturday, Oct. 9.

Donald Garrett stands inside the newly-named Don '72 and Jamie Garrett Civil Engineering Technology Laboratory.
Donald F. (Don) Garrett, a SUNY Canton Civil Engineering Technology alumnus stands inside the newly-named Don '72 and Jamie Garrett Civil Engineering Technology Laboratory in Nevaldine Hall.

“With 100 years of technology experience, SUNY Canton is on the cutting edge of this field providing students with a solid set of skills and strong career possibilities,” said SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran at the naming ceremony honoring the Garretts. “Your accomplishments are a perfect inspiration for today’s students who can look to your success and dream of what they can do if they follow in your footsteps.”

Don graduated with an Associate of Applied Sciences degree in the Civil Engineering Technology program and worked for Syracuse-based Perfetto and Whalen Construction Corp. In 1977, he relocated to Naples, Fla., and went on to launch D. Garrett Construction, Inc., in 1981. The company specializes in all aspects of construction for private golf and country clubs.

“This is a celebration of achievement in addition to generosity,” said Vice President for Advancement Tracey L. Thompson. “Don was able to maximize his SUNY Canton education and has subsequently become one of our premiere donors. We cannot thank both Don and Jamie enough for supporting the future of the college.”

Ben York thanks Donald F. Garrett and his wife Jamie Rhoads Garrett for their donations to the college.
SUNY Canton Mechanical Engineering Technology major Benjamin York of Auburn thanks Donald F. Garrett and his wife Jamie Rhoads Garrett for their donations to the college. York is the President of the American Institute of Steel Construction Student Chapter, and donations from Don’s company will go to support the student steel bridge.

The Garrett’s donation will support the Civil Engineering Technology program and the Canton Fund. In addition, Don’s company has pledged $50,000 over the next five years specifically to support the college’s American Institute of Steel Construction Student Chapter, which contains the competitors involved with the annual Student Steel Bridge Competition.

Associate Professor Adrienne C. Rygel, who teaches in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology program addressed the donors. “Alumni are an important part of our success, and now Don and Jamie are on our team. We truly couldn’t do it without your support.”

Several Canino School of Engineering Technology students who are scheduled to graduate in 2022 expressed their gratitude during the ceremony. “The AISC Steel Bridge Team has been a tremendously important part of my time here,” said Mechanical Engineering Technology Major Benjamin York of Auburn. “Your contribution will help us a lot. I appreciate your donation, and I’m sure everyone else on the team will as well.”

Don and Jamie Garrett pull down a banner to reveal a plaque bearing their name.
Donald F. (Don) Garrett and his wife Jamie Rhoads Garrett pull down a banner revealing the new plaque recognizing their donation outside of SUNY Canton’s Nevaldine South Room 110. The classroom previously called the concrete lab is now named in their honor.

Don is Chairman and CEO of the Lifestyle Management Group of Florida. He is the current owner of The Club at Gateway, a private 20-hole golf course in Fort Myers, Fla. He was a founding member of two banks, and he has been actively involved in a variety of corporate and civic organizations, serving as a former Board member of Synovus bank, the First Florida Bank, the Fifth Third Bank, and the YMCA of Collier County. Don is also the past president of the Naples Area Chamber of Commerce, the Contractor's Association of Collier County, The Pelican Bay Rotary Club, and The Easter Seal Society.

Don said his education prepared him for a variety of skills that he used throughout his career, including concrete testing, soil testing and concrete design.

“It’s hard to believe that I graduated almost 50 years ago,” Don said. “I have very fond memories of [SUNY] Canton. What I like the most about this college is the friendliness and closeness of the faculty and the students. This is a great college and I’m very pleased and honored to be able to help it grow.”

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.