Alumnus, Wife Leave Lasting Legacy to Assist Students with Disabilities

January 27, 2015

The legacy of a Syracuse University alumnus and his wife is creating a lasting mark for students with physical disabilities and the entire campus, nine decades after he first stepped onto campus.

The James S. Blesh Fund will meet a critical need to support students pursuing their education, both individually and to improve the campus environment for students with physical challenges.

The endowed, permanent fund was established by a $1.2 million estate gift from Morrell ’24, ’28 and Harriet Blesh, in memory of their son, James. S. Blesh.

The fund will provide scholarship aid, modification of physical facilities, special aid or assistance, or any effort deemed most necessary to make education possible for qualified students with physical disabilities. It is the first endowment gift to provide scholarships to qualified students with physical disabilities.

While at Syracuse, Morrell Blesh pursued degrees in arts and sciences and engineering and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Blesh, who was a member of Tau Beta Pi Honorary Engineering Fraternity and Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity, was employed by General Electric. Morrell died in 1993 and his wife died in 1996.

Morrell and Harriet Blesh provided the gift in gratitude for the opportunity Syracuse University provided to Morrell in his pursuit of higher education.

“This funding will provide an enormous amount of support for students with disabilities now and in the future—for both helping provide the best possible campus environment and in support of their higher education goals,” says Office of Disability Services Director Paula Possenti-Perez. “We focus on empowering our students and targeting the design of our environment to best serve all students. This endowment will continue to build on Syracuse University’s proud tradition of advancing people with disabilities.”