Members of the Gancas family celebrate a 2014 graduation

Cornell matters every day to Robyn Gancas ’08 and her brother Jonathan Gancas ’14—you can see it in the office they share at 221 Properties, the real estate company they founded in Austin, Texas.

“Above my desk I have my Cornell degree, and above his desk he has his Cornell degree,” Robyn said.

Both siblings received their degrees from the School of Hotel Administration, now part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. Robyn used her hospitality education in food and beverage, in hotel work, and in finance before joining Jonathan in his single-minded pursuit: real estate.

“The Hotel School was a really great program, [especially] the combination of real-life integration plus the business background,” Robyn said. “It served both of us really well past graduation.”

Cornell also made a deep impression on their parents, Rod and Karen Gancas. Like many Cornell parents, they visited Ithaca often while their kids were in school, falling in love with the campus and city, and also with the friendly, hardworking Hotel School students.

But even after Robyn and Jonathan, the oldest two of their four children, graduated and moved into careers, the positive impression remained with them. When the family decided on philanthropic contributions this year, the Hotel School was at the top of the list.

“We are always looking for causes that mean a lot to us that we can give back to,” said Karen, who also recently drew the family into supporting an orphanage in Uganda.

“Cornell really struck a chord,” Robyn added, “not just with Jonathan and me, but also with our parents because it was such an important partner in our lives.”

With Robyn instrumental in advising them, Rod and Karen Gancas endowed a scholarship at the Hotel School with a preference for a student with a disability. The gift was augmented by matching funds from the Cornell SC Johnson Challenge, part of the gift that named the College of Business.

The family hopes the scholarship, which will be awarded for the first time in fall 2018, will help recipients make the most out of their Hotel School education and their Cornell experience, said Karen. “I want them to enjoy it. I want to make their lives easier.”

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