Former Basketball Player Pledges $250,000 to UB

Release Date: March 28, 2001

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Ronald W. Schlenker Sr., a University at Buffalo alumnus and former basketball player, has pledged $250,000 to the Division of Athletics for a scholarship fund for student athletes.

Schlenker lived on Lisbon Avenue near UB's South Campus in the '40s and '50s, until the death of his father when he was a teenager, which forced his family to relocate several times. "Those were some rough times," remembers Schlenker.

He credits his former basketball coach at UB, Len Serfustini, for securing scholarships and donations that enabled him to attend UB and play basketball while pursuing a bachelor's degree.

"'Serf' taught us, on the court and off, to have a high degree of humility and honesty, which helped me learn life lessons, and be successful after graduating," said Schlenker. "Playing basketball showed me how to work within a team, and how to establish real goals and achieve them."

"We are very grateful for Ronald Schlenker's continuous support of his alma mater," said UB Athletics Director Bob Arkeilpane, "and we are greatly appreciative of his commitment to provide young scholar athletes a place to foster their academic and athletic pursuits."

Schlenker, who played for three years on the university's varsity basketball team, received a bachelor's of arts degree in geology and geography from UB in 1960. He credits his UB education as being instrumental in helping him run a successful business for 30 years.

"It is very difficult now for a person to succeed in life without a college education, I wanted to ensure that education for someone who otherwise might not have received it," said Schlenker.

With details still to be worked out regarding the qualification criteria, Schlenker was very clear on the purpose of the Ronald W. Schlenker Sr. Endowment Scholarship Fund: "I designed it for student athletes because that's how I made my way through UB. While attending the university, various alumni in the athletics program made my college education possible through donations and scholarships."

After graduating in 1960 and spending two years in Texas, Schlenker returned to Buffalo to work for Spaulding Fiber in Tonawanda. Eventually, the company transferred him to Minnesota. In 1967, Schlenker opened his own business, Schlenker and Associates, to represent manufacturers of printed circuit boards, wire, cable and fiber optics. In 1997, Schlenker sold his business to four employees.

Schlenker now lives in Wayzata, Minn., and Naples, Fla., enjoying retirement and consulting part-time.

His gift is part of UB's $250 million campaign, the largest ever conducted by a public university in New York and New England. Although it's the fifth major fund-raising campaign conducted by UB, it's the first national/international campaign, the first university-wide campaign and the first to be alumni-driven with campaign volunteer leaders from all over the country. Funds raised will be used to enrich academic programs, support students ranging from undergraduates to post-doctoral students and to enhance university life.

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