Le Moyne says goodbye to the house worthy of a president

So where will all that money go?


After months on the market, Le Moyne has finally sold the five-bedroom DeWitt manor purchased in 2012 as a presidential benefit. Priced at $495,000 the house was sold to David and Grace Joseph on Feb. 26, according to Onondaga County real estate records.

Nestled on 5016 Worthington Way, the swanky Waterford Woods home was originally purchased for former president Fred Pestello and his family. It was meant to serve as the official residence for all non Jesuit presidents. That was until current president Dr. Linda LeMura decided she was quite alright staying in her sedgwick home.

With a gourmet kitchen, cherry finished library and 3,736 square feet to relish in, the house was sold to the college for $575,000. It was purchased with the help of a considerably generous gift from Noreen Reale Falcone and her husband Michael J. Falcone, who have now given permission for their generous support to go towards another purpose–which has yet to be determined. So, although $80,000 was lost on the property, Le Moyne has now gained back a nice sum of money.

The decision to buy the property upset many students and faculty members who thought the funds would be more beneficial if put towards something else. The general consensus was that its purchase did not cohere with the college’s priorities. However, Director of Communications Joe Della Posta clarifies that providing a house for Le Moyne’s president is commonly practiced among higher education institutions. He says the real loss isn’t that it was purchased in the first place, it’s that so much money was lost because of the recent downturn in the housing market.

“Costs associated with housing for lay presidents is a common practice. We take into account all the elements of the employment conditions in the marketplace, not only salary,” said Della Posta. “The College makes decisions like these based on a number of factors–the Board, which oversees the hiring of the president, offered this benefit as part of an overall compensation strategy, one that they felt was necessary and prudent for Le Moyne.”

When the house was first bought, senior Brigid Heslin was just a freshman, and she remembers the Le Moyne community’s anger about the purchase because there was a lot of unhappiness surrounding Pestello’s presidency and the residence seemed like another unnecessary place to put money. With tuition rates rising, purchasing the property didn’t seem like an appropriate choice. “It was just kind of upsetting because you see that you’re paying so much money to be here and then their asking for that much more, it was just frustrating to see that,” said Heslin.

Although the senior communications major admits to not knowing that much about Le Moyne’s budget and where money is allowed to go, she’s happy the college will be gaining it back and hope it goes towards the more neglected departments like the Communications and Criminology departments.

As of now, Le Moyne does not know where the money will go.