Out of major commitment, a major gift

Joan and Lawrence P. Castellani

"The entire Castellani family has had a long commitment to the community, and this is just one of the ways we show our appreciation for all that the community has done for us."

It’s a truism of institutional advancement: People who are generous with their time tend to be generous with their financial resources. It’s about commitment, and when you’ve invested a lot of hours and a lot of energy into an institution, you want deeply to see it continue to succeed.

That truth has proved itself with Lawrence P. Castellani, who has lent his business savvy to the University at Buffalo in a thousand ways, notably serving terms as chair of the UB Foundation and of the UB Council.

Now Castellani and his wife, Joan, have made a $1 million gift to the University, to be apportioned between the School of Law and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

The gift comes from the Castellani Family Foundation, and Castellani is quick to point out that it reflects the whole clan’s appreciation for UB, both in the community and in their own lives. Their daughter Julie Castellani Vardanis a 2003 graduate of the School of Law and has practiced in Turkey; their son Lawrence Jr. is a Colgate University graduate. Both are trustees of the family’s charitable foundation. In addition to their School of Law connection, Castellani’s younger brother, Dr. Daniel A. Castellani, a neurologist, is a graduate of the School of Medicine.

So the family’s gift, Castellani says, comes in gratitude both for UB’s two professional schools, and in recognition of the University’s influence for the good in Western New York and beyond. “When I served on the Foundation and the Council,” he says, “it was a humbling experience to see the difference that UB can make in the lives of so many people. It really was a wonderful experience.”

Another great part of that experience, he says, was “getting to know Bill and Carol Greiner, both personally and in seeing the fruits of their efforts and their commitment and their dedication to making the University all it could be.”

Castellani’s service on the UB Council – the primary oversight and advisory body to the University and its senior administrators – came during Greiner’s tenure as president, and he came away with one strong impression.

“He had such a sense of humor,” Castellani says. “But more importantly, throughout his career he had an unusual ability to see life through other people’s perspectives, particularly those who disagreed with him. He had that unique ability to say, ‘Let’s not get upset that they disagree with us, let’s think this thing through and do a better job of hearing them out.’ If more people would go through life with that ability, I think we’d all be better off.”

The School of Law’s portion of the Castellanis’ gift will support the William R. Greiner scholarship fund, which endows a scholarship at the School of Law for a meritorious student who exemplifies leadership ability, dedication to public service and commitment to the Western New York community.

The designation for the School of Medicine in large measure supports the work of the Gates Vascular Institute in appreciation for the work of its board chairman, Dr. L. Nelson Hopkins, a professor of neurosurgery.

“My family wholeheartedly supports this endeavor,” Castellani says of the overall gift. “My wife and I are very pleased to see the foundation make this commitment. The entire Castellani family has had a long commitment to the community, and this is just one of the ways we show our appreciation for all that the community has done for us.”