By James T. Mulder |

Syracuse, N.Y. — Onondaga Community College has received a $1 million donation to set up a program to support student volunteerism and community service.

Eric Allyn made the donation in honor of his wife, Meg O’Connell, OCC’s former interim president and chair of the school’s board of trustees.

The money will be used to create the “Meg O’Connell Center for Social Justice and Community Impact.”

The center will support students in volunteer and service-learning opportunities. OCC said students will use their undergraduate experience to support local efforts, gain work experience and use their expertise to improve the community.

The program will support 20 students annually. Students will receive stipends to help offset lost wages while they volunteer or perform service-learning. OCC said 80% of its students work 30 hours a week or more.

Eric Allyn is the great-grandson of William Noah Allyn, who co-founded Welch Allyn Inc., a Skaneateles-based medical device maker, in 1915. The Allyn family sold the company in 2015 to Chicago-based Hillrom for $2.05 billion. Hillrom was recently acquired by Baxter International for $10.5 billion.

The Allyn family has a philanthropic foundation which supports efforts to address poverty and related issues in Central New York.

O’Connell is executive director of the Allyn Family Foundation and leader of the Syracuse Urban Partnership which constructed and operates the Salt City Market at 484 South Salina Street in Syracuse. She’s involved in many civic organizations and community projects, including Blueprint 15, a plan to transform more than 1,000 units of public housing in Syracuse into a neighborhood.

“With this generous gift from my husband of 35 wonderful years, OCC will be able to continue to provide opportunities for its students to become the future leaders of our community – and I couldn’t be more honored and proud to be a part of it,” O’Connell said in a prepared statement.