Orange Central 2014

October 17, 2014 § 2 Comments

Last weekend was Orange Central, Syracuse University’s Homecoming weekend…and what a spectacular weekend it was!



It was also a special time for the Class of 1964 to celebrate its 50th reunion…


Orange Central was also time to celebrate the Arents Awards, Syracuse University’s highest alumni honor.  This year we honored three distinguished alumni…

Richard Jones G’95, L’95

Angela Robinson ’78

Donald Schupak ’64, L’66


For more information on this year’s award recipients, please visit

On Saturday, No. 1 Florida State was in town to take on the Syracuse football team, and while the outcome of the game wasn’t what we had all hoped for, I think it’s fair to say that the Syracuse University Alumni Association Board and Alumni Club Presidents had a great time together in the Dome!


With over a quarter million living alumni world-wide, I am continually humbled by this opportunity to serve as your President of the Syracuse University Alumni Association.  And, if you couldn’t tell, I absolutely LOVE our alma mater!  So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you…thank you for this honor and privilege to lead THE BEST group of dedicated and passionate alumni.  There’s no other place quite like Syracuse University…where the vale of Onondaga meets the eastern sky…a wonderful place to call…home.



Too Tall to Serve as Otto

September 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

An Introduction to Syracuse University Alumni Association Vice President Andrew Laver
By: Andrew Laver ’01 VPA & Vice-President

Thank you, Laurie, for inviting me to guest blog and allowing me the opportunity to introduce myself to the Syracuse alumni community. I look forward to serving in my role as Vice-President of the Syracuse University Alumni Association (“SUAA”) and continuing to work with Chancellor Syverud, the Board and the alumni community to ensure that SU and the SUAA remains visible, relevant and one of the top universities in the nation.

Ever since I started to research colleges to attend in high school back in 1996, I knew that Syracuse University was the place for me. Instantly upon my arrival on campus in August 1997, I became entrenched in the SU community, running for office as part of the Mount Olympus government, applying for a job as an SU tour guide with the Office of Admissions, joining Z89 (89.1 FM, WJPZ) as a producer for the “Z Morning Zoo” and, most importantly, trying out for the position of our beloved mascot, Otto. Unfortunately, for the 1st (and last) time in my life, I was told I was too tall to serve as Otto, so I attended football, basketball and lacrosse games as a supporter (and not a mascot). That also gave me more time to become in various groups and clubs on campus and thrive in my on-air personality roles as a producer and disc jockey on Z89. After my sophomore year, I left Z89 and joined HOT 107.9 FM (107.9 FM, WWHT) as an on-air personality at one of Syracuse’s top-rated radio stations.

Through my four years on campus and with the support and guidance of JoAnne Phang, I was a paid campus tour guide for the Office of Admissions, working alongside Admissions staff and U100 representatives on a near-daily basis talking to and touring prospective students and their parents around our beautiful campus. I always received such wonderful feedback about the campus and the university after my tours and joked that if I had a nickel for every student that I convinced to enroll, I could have attended SU for free! I continue to represent the Admissions Office as an “Alumni Representative” and attend college fairs at local high schools to assist with local recruitment efforts as well as conducting in-person interviews of applicants.

In my junior and senior years as a Speech Communications (now Communication and Rhetorical Studies) major, I worked alongside Dr. Marlene Blumin from the School of Education as an undergraduate teaching assistant (“UTA”) in her CLS105 (College Learning Strategies) course. In this roll, I not only attended her bi-weekly lectures, but I also conducted my own one-on-one “tutoring” sessions with the students enrolled in the class. I was also one of Dr. Blumin’s UTA managers which allowed me the opportunity to work closely with the other UTAs, prepare their office-hour schedules and their weekly tutoring sessions. This was one of my first leadership positions wherein I actually had a group people “reporting” to me.

Upon graduation from SU, I returned home to the Philadelphia region and attended law school for one year. After my first year of law school, I decided that it was not the right place for me so I worked for a few law firms in the area. Shortly after leaving law school and looking for a career change, I became heavily involved with the Syracuse University Philadelphia Alumni Club (“SUPAC”) under the leadership and guidance of then-president Sekia (Strange) Jackson. Sekia and the Board quickly saw the drive and passion I had for both SU and SUPAC and I was asked to serve as vice president, a position in which I served in from 2006 until 2008. In August 2008, I was voted in as president of SUPAC, a position in which I served until 2010 when I handed the reigns over to our current leadership. Since 2010, I have remained deeply involved with SUPAC in an advisory role to club leadership, and I am still in charge of various large-scale events throughout the year.

Time for a plug—if you are not already a member of or involved in your local/regional alumni or specialty club, please click this link to find the club closest to you and JOIN NOW! The regional alumni clubs are the local “troops on the ground” for SU and the SUAA and have amazing events planned throughout the year. They are a great place to network professionally and socially, meet new friends with common interests (SU) and can help you find a local place to watch a SU sporting event. Many clubs also host cultural events, speaker series and events for incoming and recently graduated SU students. Club leaders are local volunteers who serve as board members, officers, and committee members. These clubs are a great way after matriculation to stay connected to the SU community.

OK, stepping down from my soapbox now…

With encouragement from then-SUAA President Brian Spector and past SUAA president Larry Bashe, I formally joined the SUAA Board in 2012 after serving on various committees in an ex officio role for a few years. After joining the Board, I was appointed Chair of the Awards Committee in 2013, a position I continue to hold. Earlier this summer I was elected Vice President of the SUAA Board of Directors and my term ends on June 30, 2015.

As for my personal life outside of Syracuse University, my wife Jennifer and I live in Voorhees, New Jersey—a short drive from Center City, Philadelphia—with our 3½ year old son, Ethan who I’m obviously grooming to be part of the next Generation Orange. I am currently a Business Development Manager for a full-service law firm in the Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE offices. I am also President of the Legal Marketing Association’s Metropolitan Philadelphia Chapter . In my “spare” time, I enjoy spending time with my family, cheering for Syracuse and all of the Philadelphia sports teams and visiting the Jersey Shore on summer weekends. I also take every opportunity possibly to talk-up my positive experiences at SU, my love for the Orange at events for Admissions as well as at other regional events for other SU schools and offices and finding others that bleed Orange.

I have had the honor and privilege to meet and work with a number of talented and passionate SU alums over the years and look forward to continuing to serve you in my role with the SUAA into the future. Always remember—“Knowledge crowns those who seek her.”

What does it mean to be Syracuse Alumni?

July 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

It is with great pride and respect that I would like to introduce my friend, Mark Verone, as a guest blogger. Mark was elected President-Elect of the Syracuse University Alumni Association (SUAA) last month, and he will officially take over as President on July 1, 2015. Thank you, Mark, for all that you do for our alma mater. The future of the SUAA is in great hands…


What does it mean to be Syracuse Alumni?

By: Mark Verone ’95 NEW & President-Elect

Growing up in East Syracuse, New York meant that SU was always this magical place on a hill where young people and experienced educators cultivated a new crop of alums. I never imagined that one day I would be one of those alums, and I hadn’t pondered the concept while I was attending Syracuse. Maybe I avoided the idea because it signaled that the end was in sight – the idea that school was over. After 21 years of structured learning the end was near and it was time to “grow up” and start my life. Syracuse University had always served as my safety blanket. I admit that I felt a deep sadness after graduation. Sadness about my next step in life, a new chapter that involved financial independence and freedom to make decisions about my career and to shape my life outside the safety zone of college. I was officially a Syracuse University graduate and was fortunate to have a good job lined up out of college. However, the concept of being an alumnus had not quite settled in yet. Maybe it was fear or maybe I managed to surround myself with an SU Safety Blanket to ease my transition.

Nineteen years ago, I officially started my career in New York City. I was living in a 5th floor walk-up apartment on the upper east-side that I shared with friends that made-up my first SU Safety Blanket. I was living with my college buddy Jordan and his girlfriend at the time, also an SU alum. Then there was a small network of my fraternity Brothers Roger, Peter and a whole cast of characters that were starting our lives in the Big Apple. Sure we hung out at the Lubin House on Thursday nights for “must see” TV and SU priced drinks in the former lounge. We also made sure that first fall after graduation to drive upstate for homecoming. We even made occasional weekend trip to visit friends who were still finishing their junior and senior year at SU. Sure, I was no longer a student, but I surrounded myself with that SU Safety Blanket in NYC.

Even when I moved back to Syracuse to work for WSYR, my connection to SU was part of my job. My SU Safety Blanket provided me with a paycheck to hang out on campus for SU football and basketball games. When I moved to Lexington, KY, it was hard to keep my SU Safety Blanket alive in Wildcat country, but I still had a shrine in my apartment. It was much easier when my career took me to Chicago. This time my SU Safety Blanket introduced me to my wife Rachelle. It was four years after I graduated and career moves that located me in the mid-west before I realized what it means to be a Syracuse Alumnus. CONNECTIONS! As alumni, we all have a common connection to SU and a unique bond to each other. While we all experienced SU at different times and with different people, we all share this common bond. These connections are a collection of lifelong experiences and memories that cannot be broken. These days Social Media has enhanced the way I stay connected to my SU Network of friends – it has become my Digital Safety Blanket.

Nineteen years ago, I would not have dreamt of being on the national SU Alumni board, let alone serving as President-Elect. My current SU Safety Blanket involves being part of a group of dedicated SU ambassadors for 250K living alumni around the globe. I am honored to serve this global community as a voice and champion for all SU Alumni. The SU Alumni Association Board of Directors is an outstanding and diverse collection of mission-minded alumni and I am proud to have them as my SU Safety-Blanket. There is still time to make some SU connections with SUccess in the City Orange Networking events in Atlanta, South Florida, Chicago and San Francisco along with an Alumni Networking event in Denver.

About Mark Verone:

Mark is a 1995 graduate of the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Mark started his career in the radio business where he held key marketing roles at Metromedia International, Cox Radio, Jacor Broadcasting, Clear Channel Radio, and Point-To-Point Marketing. At Clear Channel, he pivoted his career and transitioned to digital advertising operations which led to a global Partner Marketing Operations role at Orbitz Worldwide and his current position running Advertising Operations and Content Management for Gogo, a global leader of in-flight connectivity and a pioneer in wireless in-flight digital entertainment solutions. Mark and his wife Rachelle, (also an alum), are very active in the SU Alumni community. Mark currently serves as President-Elect of the national Syracuse University Alumni Association Board of Directors and hosts the Chicago area sendoff event for new students. Mark resides in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago with his wife and their two sons. 6 and a 1/2 year old Andrew’s safety blanket is a stuffed Piglet and 2 and a 1/2 year old Christopher is a stuffed Winnie the Pooh.

Syracuse University Women’s Lacrosse…Always Number 1 in my heart!

May 29, 2014 § 1 Comment

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to start this blog. I knew I wanted to talk about the Syracuse University Women’s Lacrosse team, but I had writer’s block. And every time I started to write something, I would delete it. As a Newhouse grad and former radio news journalist, this was frustrating. Frustrating because this topic was something that I loved to talk about. I thought the right first words would come easily, but it just wasn’t happening. So, after several failed attempts, it became apparent that I needed to step away from my computer, and that’s exactly what I did. So, while doing the laundry, yes laundry, that’s when it hit me…I would write a letter. A letter to Liz Harbeson…a senior on the SU women’s lacrosse team, a starting defender, #5. A Syracuse University scholar-athlete who also just happens to be my next door neighbor, a close family friend, a former babysitter and someone who I have known since she was 10 years old…


Dear Liz,

I’ll never forget that day when you came over to my house to tell me that you had made your decision regarding college. You had chosen Syracuse University! You’d think that I had just won the lottery the way I was carrying on. I was just so excited and proud of you that I could hardly contain myself. I really enjoyed talking with you about all things “Syracuse” that afternoon, and even then, I could feel our bond growing that much stronger and closer. I’ve found that Syracuse University has a way of doing that to people. Later that day when I tied some orange and blue balloons to your family’s mailbox, I felt like a kid again. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take a step back in time to reminisce about my college days. Liz…can it really be more than five years ago since you shared this wonderful news with me? Where has the time gone?

I remember when you left home. I couldn’t wait for you to be on campus and experience life as a college student on “The Hill”…and I was hoping, really hoping, that you would enjoy SU as much as I did.

Through the years, I’ve had the pleasure of watching you grow into a beautiful, kind, compassionate, confident and graceful woman. Your parents did an outstanding job raising you, Liz. You are very blessed.

Fast forward to this year, your senior year at Syracuse. You spent this past semester finishing up with your studies in the School of Education. And on the field, your team went 18-2 in the regular season! Plus, to top it off, on Senior Day in the Dome you scored your first career goal! A game-clinching effort that got you lifted onto your teammates’ shoulders and got you mentioned in the local newspaper. I only wish that I had been there in person to see this and help celebrate with you.

As you prepared for post season play, you were busy finishing up with finals and attending your convocation in Manley. Congratulations, Liz! Sorry you had to miss your graduation day in the Dome. I was hoping you would be able to hear my commencement speech. Oh well, maybe I can read the speech to you and your family this summer!

After securing the No. 2 seed in the tournament and winning your first two games, it was off to the Final Four! What an exciting time for you, your teammates and coaches. I enjoyed watching Friday’s semifinals game and seeing you advance easily into the championship game. The stage had been set. And the team played with the strength, poise and conviction of a true champion. And you battled valiantly all the way to the very end. Liz, I hope you and your teammates could feel the love and encouragement coming from the SU section. Your team’s “Don’t Quit” attitude was simply awe-inspiring. I’m just so sorry that the game didn’t turn out the way you and your team had hoped it would.

After the game, my heart broke when I embraced you on the sidelines. I was so sad because I knew your journey at Syracuse was over. And I especially felt for you and the other seniors on the team. But, I have to tell you something Liz, your class was something special. The culture of winning that you have instilled in this program is part of your amazing legacy. And that is something that can never be taken away from you. You should be very proud of all that you have accomplished at Syracuse, both on and off the field. Congratulations, Liz! I love you, lots…


Two Degrees of Otto – Syracuse University 2014 Commencement

May 17, 2014 § 1 Comment

Ladies and Gentlemen…

I would like to present my guest blogger…the one, the only, Ira Berkowitz!



Two Degrees of Otto – Commencement 2014 Report

For Linda and me, May 11, 2014, marked the end of an era. We are no longer the parents of an active SU student as Zach now joins the family of SU alumni. However, life as an SU alumnus goes on and on and on and…..

If anyone doesn’t know, I graduated from SU in 1982, Linda in 1983, Allie graduated in 2011 and Zach this year. Starting July 1st, I will start my 10th year as President of the Syracuse University Northern New Jersey Alumni Club (SUNNJAC).

But lets get back to graduation weekend, a whirlwind weekend if ever there was one. As with any weekend at SU, we are always running into the members of our extended SU family and once we hit the hill, it doesn’t take very long. About an hour after checking into our hotel, we were sitting in Faegen’s when the first familiar SU face walked in, our friend Jonathan Hoster.

After lunch, it’s off to see all my friends in alumni relations (and you know who you are), a quick check-in with Kathleen Joyce in Engineering (who has the coolest office at SU) and a meeting with Ariel DuChene (also in Engineering) to discuss a future event in North Jersey. Walking back to the hotel I ran into Deryck Palmer, a member of the SU Board of Trustees, who has been a great supporter of our club having hosted the past 3 (or is it 4?) new student send-offs.

Back at the Hotel Skyler, we are having drinks with friends from North Carolina, who also have a child graduating, when my phone rings. It is Colleen Bench, Director of the Parents Office, who wants to come by and say hello, especially to Allie who is one of the many students that Colleen has helped out over the years. As I’m fond of saying, I’d convert to Catholicism if they’d let me nominate Colleen as a saint.

Friday night it’s dinner at Gentile’s, where we are joined by Binh Huynh (SU Summer College) and his loverly bride Julie Walas (SU iSchool), who we met when they started representing SU at our club send-offs. One of the great things about being an involved alumnus are the wonderful friends you make on the SU staff and faculty. Binh and Julie also dined with us for Allie’s graduation, and Linda and I were honored to be at their wedding last May.

At the table next to us was my friend Caryl Shapiro and her family. Caryl and I not only graduated from SU together, we graduated from high school together and have known each other since we were 13. Caryl’s son Ben is ’14, daughter Eve is currently in Whitman and her mom attended SU for 3 years. Lived in Sims Hall back in the day. And that was just Friday!

The highlight of Saturday was Zach’s convocation in Manley Field House. Zach was a Falk School student, and David Falk himself was in attendance. Of course, all eyes were focused on the gentleman seated next to him….Michael Jordan, whose daughter was also graduating from Falk that day. Zach happened to be sitting one section over from Mr. Falk and MJ but in the same row, so he was able to get a few pictures of the two of them which he texted me during the ceremony. At least there were no distractions (sarcasm font!).

One of my favorite moments of the weekend happened just after we arrived at the Dome on Sunday morning for graduation. As we were walking to our seats, Allie ran into Howard Saks (SU ’51) and his family. Howard is active in the SoCal Orange Alumni Club, as is Allie. Was so great to see how happy Allie was to run into a friend from LA and how happy Howard was to see her. Orange alumni across the country and across generations. It was a real “Ira moment” and as we all know, the Orange never falls very far from the tree.

And of course, no weekend at SU is complete without a sighting of everyone’s favorite Whitman Senior Development Director, Joanne Gocek. Remind me someday to tell you about the day Linda and I spent with Joanne and her husband Ed traipsing around all the best foodie places on the lower east side of Manhattan. Pickles, bagels, knishes, pastrami, with lots of beer mixed in. Ed happens to be about 6’6” so it’s always a challenge to keep up with him when it comes to beer, and I still have never come close!

I could go on about Saturday and Sunday and all the people we saw, but I think you get the picture. Commencement 2014 on Sunday was a great event filled with many SU friends. Our new Chancellor spoke beautifully. Our very own SUAA President Laurie Taishoff inspired the new alumni to get involved and stay in touch with their SU roots, although I didn’t get the shout out I was expecting and so richly deserve (I guess I just have to settle for seats in a comfy Carrier Dome box). Commencement speaker David Remnick was funny, engaging and gave students great insights to the world they are about to inherit as adults.

At the end of they day, being part of the Orange Nation boils down to one thing – the people who you share it with. As I said in a previous SUAA President’s blog, it’s 2 Degrees of Otto, something I am happy to say Linda and I have passed down to the next generation of Orange alumni.
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You may leave Syracuse University, but Syracuse University never leaves you!

April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

IMG_6713It is with great pride and admiration that I would like to introduce my guest blogger – Danielle Matfess. Danielle is a member of the SU Alumni Association Executive Committee and is the Social Media Committee Chair. She received her undergraduate degree from SU last year, and come May 11th, she will receive her graduate degree from SU. Congratulations, Danielle! I look forward to sharing your special day with you…


Dear Seniors,

Graduation is finally upon us. I expect for most of us there were times when it seemed like this day would never come. Yet, now that it’s here I can’t believe how fast time has flown! Our days as students at Syracuse are quickly coming to a close…and a part of me is incredibly sad about it. But there’s another part of me that is excited, because like I always used to say, “If I wasn’t having so much fun being a student, I’d want to be an alumna!” See, the thing is, you get to do so many cool things as alumni of Syracuse. Whether it’s reunions, alumni clubs, or the general awesomeness that is Generation Orange, there’s no shortage of perks to being alumni. And I want you to know all about them.

The first thing you have to know is that just because you’re not on campus anymore doesn’t mean you need to suffer Orange withdrawal. Syracuse has alumni clubs across the country and around the world. You can find your local club here: When I move to NYC I am absolutely going to join the Big Apple Orange Club! Alumni clubs provide a great opportunity to meet other Orange grads in your area, wherever you end up. And then you’ll have a guaranteed group of friends to watch SU basketball games with.

Another of the best perks of being an alumnus is a little known secret: campus catering saves the best food for the alumni events. If you have the opportunity, you should definitely head back to campus for Orange Central in the fall (which is when quite possibly the best weather ‘Cuse ever experiences happens, so that’s another perk). Orange Central features a ton of events for alumni…including tailgates, reunions, and more. Even better, most of them involve really good food. And for us recent graduates, there will be the presentation of the “Generation Orange” young alumni award at a special Generation Orange event. Now, you might be wondering, “What is Generation Orange and why do I care?” Generation Orange is all about graduates of the past ten years, aka US! You should totally check out their twitter @SUGenOrange (shameless plug), as they share a bunch of cool information relevant to young alumni, like Generation Orange events, alumni spotlights, and more. Coming up for Generation Orange are the ‘SUccess in the City’ events being held in several cities around the country this summer. These events are perfect for those of us moving to a new city and wanting to build our career networks.

Speaking of careers, don’t forget that Career Services is here to help us navigate the twists and turns of wherever our career path takes us, even after we graduate. So, if you need some career advice, join ‘CuseConnect on LinkedIn, Skype with Career Services, or attend one of the many career-based alumni events SU holds. And one day, when you make manager, or partner, or vice-president, or CEO, I hope you think about reaching out and helping another SU graduate and #HireOrange.

There are so many great things about being Syracuse University Alumni, but what I want you to remember most of all is this. You may be leaving Syracuse, but Syracuse isn’t leaving you. We bleed Orange and that’s for life. Every one of us is now part of one large, crazy, Orange family. And just like family, SU has your back no matter what. Leaving can be scary, and I can’t promise that you’ll never struggle. But when you need a hand, or someone to watch the game with, or just want to visit and catch up, we’ll be there 100%.
So go ahead and feel sad. Take a moment and think about everything you have accomplished here. Think about the friends you’ve made, the late nights, the early mornings, and all the moments that led you here, to graduation. You’re leaving an incredible place and heading into uncharted waters. It’s hard to say goodbye. But when you’re done feeling sad, get excited. Being a student at SU may have been some of your best years ever, but trust me, being SU Alumni is going to be equally as awesome!
Congratulations Class of 2014! I’ll see you on the other side ;)


Syracuse University Philanthropy Week

April 3, 2014 § 1 Comment

This week, Syracuse University is celebrating “Philanthropy Week” with a variety of events on campus. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Phanstiel Lecture and Orange Circle Awards. The lecture featured Andrew Lunetta, a graduate student in the master of public administration program in SU’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Lunetta is founder of Pedal to Possibilities, a program that provides bicycles to the homeless in Syracuse. His presentation “Philanthropy: Who Says It’s a One-Way Street?” was inspirational as well as thought provoking.


Two years ago, after Lunetta returned to Central New York from a 3,200 mile cross-country bike trek to raise money for the Brady Faith Center in Syracuse, he decided to lease a home in the city of Syracuse and share it with homeless men who were making their way out of the shelter system. Two years later, the program is still going strong, and Lunetta is hoping to offer more housing options and more bikes for the homeless in years to come.


The Orange Circle Awards, which recognize members of the SU community who have done extraordinary things in the service of others, honored Thomas Blumer G’82, e5m (Every Five Minutes), Christopher Meek ’92 and Mary Gilmore Smith ’29 G’38. For more information on these outstanding and deserving award recipients, please visit  


Since 1870, our alma mater has produced philanthropists who have given their time, talent and treasure to improve the lives of others. Today is “Thank-A-Donor-Day” at Syracuse University. So, thank you to all of you who have generously given to SU!



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