CANTON -- A successful entrepreneur who has had a profound impact on the Akwesasne-St. Regis Mohawk Reservation and SUNY Canton is the recipient of the College's 2011 Distinguished Alumnus award.
Guilford 'Gil' White, class of 1968, will receive the prestigious honor at SUNY Canton's President's Gala on Thursday.
"Gil's leadership has benefited both the Akwesasne-St. Regis Mohawk Reservation and the SUNY Canton community," SUNY Canton President Joseph Kennedy said. "He had the foresight to see the potential for education and economic growth on the reservation and took the necessary steps to ensure a higher quality of life in his community. We are proud to honor him with this award as a small token of our appreciation for his continued work on the reservation and with the college."
White graduated from Massena Central High School in 1956 and was an ironworker on the St. Lawrence Seaway as well as Washington, D.C. and Boston. In 1966, he went to SUNY Canton where he pursued a degree in construction technology. While attending the college, he worked during vacations and helped build what is today's campus.
After graduating from SUNY Canton, he earned his bachelor's degree from Utica College of Syracuse University in construction management and went on to work with the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Ironworkers Union in Washington, D.C. White was chosen to create and administer a new program assisting local unions and contractors across the United States in the implementation of Equal Employment Opportunity programs.
He returned to the Akwesasne-St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in 1983 after realizing the economic potential that high stakes bingo could have on the community. He and his partners operated the Mohawk Bingo Palace until 1995 when he diversified his business to real property and development holdings and construction projects. His efforts helped bring Class 3 Casino Gaming to the reservation.
In addition to his entrepreneurial endeavors, White and his family published a nationally recognized native people's newspaper called the People's Voice.
"Gil White is a true leader in his community and SUNY Canton's community," said Vice President for Advancement David Gerlach. "He joined the Foundation Board of Directors in 2010 and he is most deserving of our Distinguished Alumnus Award."
After joining the board, White established a scholarship in memory of Professor Ross C. Hudson, who inspired him to continue his education and prepare him for a successful career.
White serves the greater community as a member of the Massena Rotary Club. "Gil is a believer in the Rotary's motto, 'Service Above Self,'” said John A. Murray, a fellow member. "He is generous in sharing his time, talent and treasures with others and has always been supportive of community and international projects. He is an exemplary community member and SUNY Canton alumnus."