picture of outside of Buffalo State's Speech Clinic

Alumna Leaves $2.1 Million Gift to Speech-Language Pathology

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A recent gift from an alumna who received a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Buffalo State College will serve students in the department for years to come. 

Marie J. Marillo, ’56, left a $2.1 million endowment to the department, intended to be used to “support speech therapy education,” according to Susan Felsenfeld, associate professor and chair of speech-language pathology. The gift will allow the department to spend $75,000 annually for at least the next decade.

“The amount was pretty shocking,” Felsenfeld said. “For our discipline, and probably for almost any department, it’s very unusual to get a gift that large.”

Not much is known about Marillo except that she worked as a speech-language pathologist in the Buffalo area for more than 40 years. She died about 10 years ago, leaving the gift to be disbursed upon the death of her husband. He died last year, Felsenfeld said. The department is trying to find out more about Marillo. 

“I think what she was trying to communicate through this gift is that she wanted future students to have the type of training and the benefit of training that she received because she loved her career,” Felsenfeld said. “I think she wanted to ensure that future Buffalo State students would have opportunities to become speech-language pathologists, and she wanted to support that effort.”

The money will allow the department to do a number of things, Felsenfeld said. First and foremost, it will give SLP students the opportunity to learn in cutting-edge facilities, with the tools to pursue high-level training. That includes creating state-of-the-art teaching and clinical labs. The gift will also enable the department to increase the diversity of the population that SLP students serve on campus. The department runs a student-served, faculty-supervised Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic and will look to add more services to its repertoire. 

The gift will also provide opportunities for specialists to come to campus for trainings, for graduate students to attend conferences, and to bolster recruitment efforts, including stipends for first-year graduate students, called Marillo First-Year Fellowships.

As SLP faculty and staff members work to find out more about Marillo, they’re completely overwhelmed by her gift. 

“What she has decided to do really will have such an impact on so many,” Felsenfeld said. “Now probably 10, if not 20, years of graduate students are going to benefit because of her generosity.”