The Privitera Scholarship and the American Dream

Salvatore (Sam) Privitera, BS ’88.

Salvatore (Sam) Privitera, BS ’88

Unlocking potential and empowering the next generationn of engineers through a scholarship endowment.

Salvatore (Sam) Privitera, BS ’88, chief technical officer at AtriCure, Inc., recently made a profound impact on the future of education through a substantial scholarship endowment. The generous gift of $750,000 from Privitera and his family, leveraged by the SUNY University Center Endowment Challenge, reflects not only a commitment to giving back but also a heartfelt dedication to nurturing the dreams of future students.

Privitera earned his degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 1988, and his story deeply resonates with the ethos of the American dream. Born to immigrant parents and raised in Buffalo near UB’s South Campus, Privitera navigated his educational journey with determination and grit. Though he grew up in modest circumstances, his family valued and prioritized education, setting the stage for a remarkable trajectory. 

“Education was always an important imperative for my parents, and while they had limited opportunities—and very limited means—they invested in my sisters and me,” he says. “UB was a chance for me to get a great education without further burdening my parents [with heavy tuition costs]. I got to go to the school they saw every day. It was a full circle moment.”

The Salvatore Privitera Scholarship Endowment stands as a testament to the Privitera family commitment to providing opportunities for those facing financial barriers, especially students with a similar background to his own. The scholarship will prioritize students with a demonstrated need for support and those who are children of immigrants, acknowledging the unique challenges they may encounter.

“This is a way of creating a little bit of equity, helping those individuals who don’t have the same financial wherewithal,” Privitera says. “This program helps give students the financial stability to concentrate on their studies and the mentorship to create a community that will give them the confidence they need to be successful.” 

One distinctive aspect of the scholarship is the mentoring component integral to its structure. Designed to foster a sense of community and support, the award will fund four students each year, spanning from freshman to senior. Juniors and seniors will take on the role of mentors, guiding and assisting their younger counterparts. This mentoring approach aims to create a supportive network within the SEAS community, enhancing the overall educational experience for recipients. 

Sam Privitera's bold impact

This is a way of creating a little bit of equity, helping those individuals who don’t have the same financial wherewithal."

Because the Privitera family took advantage of the SUNY endowment challenge program, they were able to turn the $500,000 gift into $750,000 with the State’s $250,000 matching contribution. “The matching program was an impetus for me and my family to do it now and even to go much bigger because the program gives us a chance to influence many more people through the life of the endowment than it would have otherwise,” he says. “I want to encourage others to take advantage of the endowment match program. This is a special opportunity to really help more people.”

Privitera has expressed gratitude for the opportunities his education provided him, and he emphasizes the importance of giving back to others to ensure they have similar chances, if not more. His dedication to mentorship is not confined to the scholarship’s structure; it is also a personal commitment he fulfills by making himself available to scholarship recipients.

Privitera’s connection to Buffalo remains strong and the scholarship reflects his, and his family’s, desire to give back to the community that shaped him. As he looks forward to the scholarship’s impact, he envisions a ripple effect of success and support. By empowering students with financial assistance, mentorship and a sense of community, he hopes to create a legacy that extends beyond individual accomplishments. 

“My wife, Mary Beth, and I were joking that this is the largest investment we’ve ever made as a family, more than we’ve ever spent on a house, more than we’ve spent on anything. My wife didn’t even bat an eye; she said ‘Let’s do this. How many kids to do we get to help?’”  

Published February 28, 2024