Donor Profile: Cynthia Vance

November 13, 2018


Cynthia and Phil Vance’s son, Jack, had just started his freshman year at St. John Fisher College in 2014 when Phil became ill. He passed away just three months later.

Though Phil did not graduate from Canisius College, he was big Griffs basketball fan with long-time season tickets. Upon his passing, Cynthia made a generous donation to the basketball program to honor Phil. Her son’s experience at losing his father inspired her to do even more. Vance realized how the death of a parent could place a college student in difficult financial circumstances.

“I saw what my son had to go through and, while staying in school was not a financial problem for Jack, some of his friends related stories of having severe financial hardships when a parent died,” Vance explains. “I established the endowed scholarship at Canisius specifically to support students who are at risk of stopping school because of financial challenges.”

A partner in Jensen, Marks, Langer & Vance LLC – a wealth planning firm in Buffalo – Vance created the Cynthia E. Vance Scholarship Fund with an initial gift of $50,000. The fund has an open-ended structure to welcome additional gifts from other donors. Established in December 2017, the fund is already making a difference in the lives of Canisius students.

Vance shared the story of a special education major who faced the prospect of dropping out when her father – the family’s primary income provider – became ill and required surgery. Last spring, Vance’s scholarship fund enabled the student to cover her tuition for fall classes without interruption in her studies. Her scholarship has since helped two other students continue at Canisius following unexpected circumstances that left their families unable to afford tuition. 

A graduate of Michigan State University, Vance earned an MBA from Xavier University and graduated magna cum laude from the University at Buffalo School of Law. She currently serves on the Canisius College Board of Trustees.

“Having attended Xavier, I believe strongly in the value of a Jesuit education,” Vance concludes. “It really goes along with my value system of giving back and another reason I support Canisius.”