Nancy and Don Auster Memorial Dedication and Walk/Run Scheduled for Sept. 30


The SUNY Canton College Foundation, Inc., will be hosting a special event to celebrate the life of Canton residents Distinguished Professor Emeritus Nancy R. Auster and her husband, Donald, a St. Lawrence University faculty member, at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30.

During the ceremony, the Auster family will unveil a memorial bench overlooking the Grasse River near the footbridges behind campus. Parking for the ceremonial dedication will be in Lot 1.

Nancy Auster and family
Family Connections – The Auster family will help the SUNY Canton College Foundation, Inc., unveil a memorial bench by the Grasse River on Saturday. Pictured (l to r) are Carol J., Donald, Nancy R., and Ellen R. Auster at the 2013 SUNY Canton Honors Convocation.

“Don and Nancy spent virtually every morning running and later walking on this SUNY [Canton] loop for decades,” said Ellen R. Auster. “We are so deeply grateful to honor our parents this way and hopefully provide some joy and serenity for everyone who knew them.”

Following the ceremony, a memorial walk/run will commemorate the Austers, who were avid runners. There is also a celebration of life service at 2 p.m. the same day at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Canton.

“This is a wonderful and fitting tribute to our parents’ legacy,” said Carol Auster. “My parents enjoyed nature and being outdoors. This bench is where others can rest and take in the beautiful scenery.”

Nancy earned her bachelor’s from Barnard College and her MBA from Indiana University. Then in 1966, Professor Auster began her career at Canton Agricultural and Technical College (SUNY Canton) and served 25 years as a faculty member in the Social Sciences Department, where she taught Economics. She was one of two faculty members who initially developed a new constitutional form of government, now known as the Faculty Assembly, and serving as the governing body at the college.

Austers Remembered – Pictured are the late Donald and Nancy R. Auster at the 2013 SUNY Canton Honors Convocation. The annual event was named in honor of Nancy, a faculty member, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, and founding member of the college’s governing body.

She was the first person to receive the College Council’s Distinguished Faculty Award and the first SUNY Canton faculty member to earn the statewide SUNY-designated Distinguished Service Professorship. She was the first woman elected to the SUNY Faculty Senate from SUNY Canton, the first faculty member from a two-year college, and the first woman from any college or university in the SUNY system to be elected President of the statewide governing body. She served as the United University Professions (UUP) contract negotiator and received the Union’s Professional Excellence Award.

Professor Auster joined the SUNY Canton Hall of Fame in 2012, and the 2013 Honors Convocation was named in her honor. She passed away, surrounded by her loved ones, on October 14, 2022.

Her husband, Don, predeceased her on December 6, 2021. They were married for 75 years. Don was a U.S. Army veteran who served as a medic in Bermuda during World War II, which cultivated his lifelong interest in medicine. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Hofstra University, his master’s at Columbia, and his doctorate in Sociology from Indiana University.

The Austers relocated to Canton in 1957 when Don became a Professor of Sociology at St. Lawrence. He was an innovative teacher and an early supporter of gender equality. Don pioneered the development of courses focused on gender. Throughout his career, he actively mentored students and gave them the confidence to pursue their dreams. He was a noted feminist who actively supported his wife, Nancy, in her career and recreational interests. He also encouraged his daughters and granddaughters to embrace their full potential and chase their aspirations. He retired in 1987 with 30 years of service.

Both Nancy and Don were formidable runners. They participated in numerous races each year and often won medals in their age category. Don participated in road races into his late seventies, and then supported Nancy’s running into her mid-eighties, always cheering her on and being the enthusiastic videographer. In total, Nancy competed in several hundred races, including the Ottawa, Ont., marathon. She won the USA Master’s Long Distance Running Track and Field Women’s 5K national title in her age category four times.

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.