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News > AFAI Stories > AFAI: Susan C. Saxer '71

AFAI: Susan C. Saxer '71

“How can anyone pass up on that opportunity?” Beaver College helped Susan C. Saxer '71 reach her 'full potential'—now, she's helping Arcadia students do the same
Saxer felt compelled to make it easier for students to have transformative educational experiences.
Saxer felt compelled to make it easier for students to have transformative educational experiences.

When Susan C. Saxer ’71 arrived at Beaver College as a 17-year-old, she admits she wasn’t exactly “raw clay.” The valedictorian of her high school, she brought with her to college a natural affinity for math and science. But, she says, the personal attention she received from her Beaver professors provided a critical boost to launch her career in economics and finance.

“There were a few women in the class of 1971 that the mathematics department head accelerated into upper-class courses, even though we hadn’t taken the fundamental college courses,” Saxer says, recalling she felt surprised but motivated by the administrator’s decision.

“I am so grateful that I was in an environment with students, faculty, and an administration that didn’t subtract from my abilities but instead augmented and enhanced my ability to reach my full potential. I was enriched in the process.”

Saxer’s Beaver experience created a firm foundation from which she assembled a list of impressive career accomplishments, including an MBA from Drexel University, over 30 years as a vice and senior vice president for Mellon Bank Corporation, and a successful second career as an owner of two firms in which she was a consultant and advisor. No matter where her career took her, Saxer maintained close ties to her alma mater, serving as president of the Alumni Association, a class officer, and as a Trustee, chairing the finance and audit committees. 

Throughout her years of service to Arcadia, she is grateful that, despite the university’s growth, its faculty still provide their students with the same kind of personal attention and investment that made such a difference in her life. Yet, through her conversations with current students and the administration, she learned that many students had taken on the burden of significant loans and financial hardship to attend Arcadia. Some students were also struggling to meet basic needs once they enrolled.

As a result, Saxer felt compelled to make it easier for students to have transformative educational experiences like hers, now and into the future.

“I always felt that when I got to a point where I had the willingness and capacity to give significantly, I wanted to sponsor a scholarship,” she says. “Finally, when I retired from corporate life, the time had come. I said, ‘OK, I’m ready to do this.’”

In 2015, she made her first gift to create the Susan C. Saxer Mathematics, Honors, and Economics Scholarship, which provides financial support for students who have completed at least two semesters of study in those programs. Then, in 2019, she supplemented her endowed fund through the university’s Arcadia Financial Aid Initiative (AFAI), which offered donors a 1:1 match to establish new or supplement existing endowed scholarships. This year, Saxer started a second scholarship in her name through AFAI to benefit students seeking degrees in STEM fields. That particular gift created Arcadia’s 100th endowed scholarship fund — a significant milestone in Arcadia’s strategic efforts to provide financial aid for more students.

“I am a woman of faith, and as a woman of faith, my purpose in being here is to give. When one gives, the reward is almost always greater for the person who is giving rather than the person who receives the gift,” Saxer says.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saxer only recently met one of her first scholarship’s recipients in person. At a scholarship dinner, Saxer says, the student wowed her with his combination of accomplishments in the classroom and on the tennis court, as well as his kindness. The meeting underscored for her the importance of supporting Arcadia’s next generation of students.   

“I say the same thing over and over, which is that the best investment I’ve ever made is in helping someone else realize their potential,” Saxer says. “Some way, somehow, that person will do something that may not benefit me directly, but will benefit others. How can anyone pass up on that opportunity?”

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