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  • Sydney Umstead

The Person Behind Science Hall Commons

By: Sydney Umstead, News Editor

If you’ve been to Science Hall Commons, you’ve probably seen the last name “Stranczek” written on the walls. 

Maybe you’ve never stopped to consider who this “Stranczek” person is, however, a look into the past of Diane and Chester Stranczek will bring you some answers but, might also leave more questions that are begging to be answered by the Canisius administration. 

These questions could include something like: “Why would we dedicate our Science Building to someone who allegedly purposefully contained the city’s water supply?” and “If Canisius found out about this after the donation, why did they not change the name and reject the money?” 

Stranczek, who was a former board member at Canisius and honored in the naming of Science Hall Commons also spent time working as a mayor. You may be asking what did he do as mayor and why does it matter? 

The man attributed to our Science Hall Commons Building had a story released by several news sources, including CBS News alleging that Stranczek had been conducting a “scheme” to mix the “contaminated water with cleaner but pricier water.” 

The Chicago Tribune stated Chester Stranczek was the mayor of Crestwood, Illinois from 1969 until Aug. of 2007. An article from “Environmental Protection” states that on June 9th of 2009, a lawsuit was filed against the former mayor and the “former certificated operator of the Crestwood Supply,” Frank Scaccia. The article states that the case alleges that the two had failed to “provide assuredly safe water to its customers and for knowingly providing false information about the water supply to residents and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).” 

Following this, “Crestwood now maintains that it stopped using water from the well as a source of drinking water as of October 2007.” Moreover, “The Village permanently abandoned, capped, and rendered the well inoperable on March 20.” 

In Sept. 2007, The Buffalo News published an article discussing how Stranczek and his wife Diane donated one million dollars to Canisius 

Due to Strancek’s declining health in 2013, CBS News reported that Judge Joan Gottschall stated that “she understood Stranczek's own deteriorating health made filing charges against him impossible.” Chester Strancek died in 2015 however, the two individuals involved Theresa Neubauer and Scaccia were both sentenced to receive two years of probation. 

Gottschall had called one of the charged people, Neubauer, “a low-level soldier,” implying that Strancek was the ringleader of the operation. Furthermore, prosecutors of the case noted that they believe “Stranczek wanted to score political points by pointing to low village water rates.” 

This is not to imply that this is the current administration’s fault, however, I think there should be more transparency from the former college regarding the people donating. My biggest question is why this was never addressed or rescinded in any way. 

Science Hall Commons is officially known as “the Chester HON '01 and Diane Stranczek Commons” with the first renovations being done in August of 2012, as per the Canisius University website.

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