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 www.syr.edu.  

 

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!

 

Laurie

From the Top-Top-Top of Mt. Olympus

February 27, 2014 § 1 Comment

Hello Orange Nation!

I bring you a special guest blog by Mark Verone, Vice-President of the Syracuse University Alumni Association.  Enjoy…

Laurie

 

From the Top-Top-Top of Mt. Olympus…

2 major events happened in 1973.  The first was my entry into the world and the second was the birth of the Greatest Media Classroom on earth – WJPZ Radio.  Now in its 40th year of broadcasting, WJPZ has been one of the most successful student-run media establishments in the country.  I, along with fellow 1995 SU grads are also in our 40th year and it’s hard to believe that a student-run college radio station has been so successful. WJPZ was more than a college radio station, more than a student-run activity.  Z89 is a training ground for some of the best media professionals from my era and beyond that have walked the campus of Syracuse University.  The remarkable story of this 100 watt radio station that reaches the metro Syracuse radio market has been its commitment to education and “real-world” experiences that supplement the classroom experience.  If you want to get into the broadcasting business, WJPZ is the best and safest environment to hone your craft.  At the heart of this success is WJPZ’s commitment to a Top 40 programming format versus a play whatever you want block format.  This commitment to education teaches critical skills that can be applied to all areas of the media business and the professors are the students.

For most SU students, they either heard the rumors about this media classroom, discovered WJPZ while applying to SU or they got introduced to it during freshman orientation weekend.  Some actually made their decision to come to SU because of this “100 watt flamethrower” of a radio station.  Z89 was usually the loudest and most fun student activity table at freshmen orientation trying to recruit the next generation of broadcasters to join the Z Team.  For me, my introduction to Z89 happened in the 80’s when the WJPZ went from the AM dial and cable access to 89.1FM.  This remarkable transformation along with the full tumultuous history of WJPZ is told in a new documentary commissioned by the WJPZ Alumni Association.  “Greatest Media Classroom: The Story of WJPZ” premieres this weekend at the 29th annual WJPZ Alumni Banquet being held at the University Sheraton on Saturday, March 1st.  Students and alums from all over gather each year to celebrate and educate in this fun-filled weekend that is more like a family reunion than an alumni event.

Growing up in East Syracuse, NY, the history of WJPZ, started in 1985 when I first discovered this new radio station at beginning of the FM dial at 89.1.  I was not aware at the time that the station was the same age as me.  I was just a 12yr old kid who was more influenced by what I “saw” on the radio versus television.  I knew I wanted to get into broadcasting and I made it my mission to get into the S.I. Newhouse School.  And until I arrived at Syracuse University, I did not have a definitive plan of where my path would take me in the media business, but I knew all about WJPZ and wanted to be a part of Z89.  I can honestly say that WJPZ is the one place at Syracuse University where I met some of my closest friends and colleagues.  The bond of WJPZ Alumni is like a big extended family and to this day I encourage all freshmen from Chicago attending our sendoff event to check out the Greatest Media Classroom that is WJPZ.

Due to prior family and SUAA commitments, I will not be in Syracuse to watch the documentary with the WJPZ Alumni this week.  However, I have had the opportunity to get a sneak preview from Executive Producer, Scott MacFarlane and this documentary does not disappoint.  It tells the emotional and triumphant journey and evolution of WJPZ over the last four decades.  Just when you thought you knew everything about WJPZ…think again.  This documentary is an important record for the SU Archives and is an incredible representation of the history and influences on the careers and lives of so many SU Students and alums.  I wish everyone GOOD RADIO and MAJOR MARKET broadcasting karma this weekend.

To preview the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv8zHfypobs

 Next time you are in Syracuse, tune in to 89.1FM or listen to Z89 Live all over the world on iHeart.com – you won’t believe how professional and major market this little student run radio station sounds: http://www.z89online.com/

 More About the WJPZ Alumni Association: http://www.wjpzalumni.org/

Tumblr: http://wjpzalumni.tumblr.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wjpzalumni

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wjpzalumni

 About Mark Verone:

Mark is a 1995 graduate of the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University where he received the 1993 award for “Best Creative Production” from the National Association of College Broadcasters (NACB) for his work at WJPZ-FM.  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 Sales 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 http://chicago.syr.edu/alumni/alumni-profiles/verone-hardy-profile.html.  Mark currently serves as Vice President of the national Syracuse University Alumni Association Board of Directors and host the Chicago are sendoff event for new students.  Mark resides in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago with his wife and their two sons.  He sometimes can be found trying to hit the “post” while playing DJ with his iPhone in the car.  The kids think he has lost his mind.

We’re Number 1!

February 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

Wow…what a weekend on the Syracuse University campus! It all started last Friday, late morning, in Maryland, in a car, with my husband and dog, trailering a 26 foot boat up for the Central New York boat show. I know…the end of January really isn’t the ideal time to be doing this, but, the boat show was in two weeks, so it kind of made sense…right? Fortunately the weather cooperated, and we made it into town with just enough time to drop off the boat, change and head into the Carmelo Center for the Annual ‘Cuse Champions Auction. The night was a huge success with over $130,000 raised to support SU Athletics programs.

Now, on to Saturday…

When I woke up that morning, I had this huge pit in my stomach. It was that same feeling I would get prior to a Big East or NCAA tournament game. I was just so excited for the upcoming #2 Syracuse vs #17 Duke game that I could hardly contain myself! Arriving on campus, our group of six headed to the Schine Student Center for the “Beat Duke” tailgate. Fortunately, we had purchased our tailgate tickets ahead of time because we wouldn’t have been able to get in otherwise…the event was a sell-out at 600! What a festive and fun party to get the Syracuse fans fired up for the big game. One of the highlights was having former SU basketball players like Pearl Washington, John Wallace and Roosevelt Bouie on hand to meet and greet the fans. And for those of you who know me, this was also a great opportunity for me to hand out SU Alumni pins.

As we left the tailgate and started walking up toward the Dome, it was so amazing to witness the sea of Orange. We all knew we were going to be a part of something special…breaking the Dome attendance record, a new rivalry, Boeheim vs Coach K…little did we all know then just how epic this game would turn out to be.

It was an emotional roller coaster in the Dome. Up down, up down, up down. I can’t remember the last time I cheered so loudly and so much. And as a result, I lost my voice for two days. You should have heard me try to talk! For those of you who did, you know firsthand just how pathetic I sounded. But, I have to say, it was all worth it. You see, the overtime win by Syracuse was one of the best games I’ve ever seen. And growing up in Central New York, I can tell you that I’ve been to a lot of SU basketball games. The Loud House truly lived up to its name that day, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a thrill it was to be a part of the record breaking crowd of 35,446!

Fast forward now to Saturday night. OrangeNation was closely following the Arizona/UC Berkeley game. It was a game that would go down to the wire. Would Number 1 Arizona lose its first game of the season? As the final buzzer sounded, OrangeNation erupted in joy…the Arizona Wildcats were no longer unbeaten. SU fans all over the world celebrated, because we knew, without a doubt, that come Monday, WE WOULD BE NUMBER 1! And when Monday did roll around, and the college basketball polls were released, there we were…sitting atop the polls…the unanimous Number 1…right where we belonged.

Until next time…

Laurie

We’re Number 1!

February 7, 2014 § 2 Comments

Wow…what a weekend on the Syracuse University campus! It all started last Friday, late morning, in Maryland, in a car, with my husband and dog, trailering a 26 foot boat up for the Central New York boat show. I know…the end of January really isn’t the ideal time to be doing this, but, the boat show was in two weeks, so it kind of made sense…right? Fortunately the weather cooperated, and we made it into town with just enough time to drop off the boat, change and head into the Carmelo Center for the Annual ‘Cuse Champions Auction. The night was a huge success with over $130,000 raised to support SU Athletics programs.

Now, on to Saturday…

When I woke up that morning, I had this huge pit in my stomach. It was that same feeling I would get prior to a Big East or NCAA tournament game. I was just so excited for the upcoming #2 Syracuse vs #17 Duke game that I could hardly contain myself! Arriving on campus, our group of six headed to the Schine Student Center for the “Beat Duke” tailgate. Fortunately, we had purchased our tailgate tickets ahead of time because we wouldn’t have been able to get in otherwise…the event was a sell-out at 600! What a festive and fun party to get the Syracuse fans fired up for the big game. One of the highlights was having former SU basketball players like Pearl Washington, John Wallace and Roosevelt Bouie on hand to meet and greet the fans. And for those of you who know me, this was also a great opportunity for me to hand out SU Alumni pins.

As we left the tailgate and started walking up toward the Dome, it was so amazing to witness the sea of Orange. We all knew we were going to be a part of something special…breaking the Dome attendance record, a new rivalry, Boeheim vs Coach K…little did we all know then just how epic this game would turn out to be.

It was an emotional roller coaster in the Dome. Up down, up down, up down. I can’t remember the last time I cheered so loudly and so much. And as a result, I lost my voice for two days. You should have heard me try to talk! For those of you who did, you know firsthand just how pathetic I sounded. But, I have to say, it was all worth it. You see, the overtime win by Syracuse was one of the best games I’ve ever seen. And growing up in Central New York, I can tell you that I’ve been to a lot of SU basketball games. The Loud House truly lived up to its name that day, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a thrill it was to be a part of the record breaking crowd of 35,446!

Fast forward now to Saturday night. OrangeNation was closely following the Arizona/UC Berkeley game. It was a game that would go down to the wire. Would Number 1 Arizona lose its first game of the season? As the final buzzer sounded, OrangeNation erupted in joy…the Arizona Wildcats were no longer unbeaten. SU fans all over the world celebrated, because we knew, without a doubt, that come Monday, WE WOULD BE NUMBER 1! And when Monday did roll around, and the college basketball polls were released, there we were…sitting atop the polls…the unanimous Number 1…right where we belonged.

Until next time…

Laurie

December 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last Tuesday night I was in the Dome for the Syracuse/Indiana basketball game. I know, I know…this blog is a week late, but better late than never, right? My sister Becky and I had the privilege of sitting in the front row underneath the Syracuse basket, next to AD Daryl Gross. WOW…what amazing seats! But, more on the game later…

Our pre-game festivities began with a stop at Swallow’s bar and restaurant in Syracuse. A friend of mine had introduced me to this place several months ago. They have some of the best wings in town. Becky and I had a lot of fun talking with other Syracuse fans, as well as with the friendly bartender “Z”. After some spicy ranch wings and a drink, it was time to make our way to the Dome.

We arrived around 7:00…tip off was 7:15…so we had to hurry in through the gate to get to our seats. The first thing we noticed was that the place was packed! We later learned that attendance was 26,414 – not bad for a Tuesday night in December – but, it was Indiana!

The last time Syracuse faced Indiana was in this past season’s East Regional semifinal, which SU won. The last time Becky and I had together seen these two teams play in person was in 1987. Enough said…

Sitting underneath the basket is quite an experience. You are so close to the action, and you can see and hear everything. The #4 Orange were fresh off of winning the Maui Invitational, and they came ready to play. From our seats we could scrutinize CJ Fair’s scar under his right eye, a casualty from Maui. We got a birds eye view of freshman sensation Tyler Ennis. We could see first hand just how much Jerami Grant had “muscled up” during the off-season. Rakeem Christmas? Well, how can you say anything bad about the man whose last name is my favorite holiday! Then there were those few scary minutes when Trevor Cooney was lying on the floor underneath the Syracuse basket following a flagrant foul. Fortunately, he was okay. All said…it was a great night in the Dome. Syracuse beats Indiana in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and goes 8-0 on the season…BOOM!

Now…a side note. For those of you who know me, “SU Alumni” pins are something that I always have on me. You just never know when you might run into a Syracuse alum. Sure enough…Mike Tirico was calling the game for ESPN. I gave him a pin prior to the second half. He gave me a big smile. Seated three seats down from me was former SU basketball standout John Wallace. He completed his degree a couple of years ago. When I handed him a pin, his face lit up, and he told me that it meant a lot to him. So, in closing out this blog I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your support of our alma mater. It is such an honor and pleasure to serve as your alumni association president.

Laurie

Orange Central 2013

October 9, 2013 § 3 Comments

I know…I promised Part Two of “All Aboard,” but after being on campus this past weekend for Orange Central, I really wanted to write about Homecoming. Yes, the football team lost big time to #3 Clemson, but, there was a near-sellout crowd of 48,961 on hand for our first ever ACC football game. So, while the outcome was not what we had all hoped for, we can be proud of the fact that so many of our fantastic alumni turned out to cheer on our beloved Orange.

My weekend was sooooo busy that the university assigned me a handler. And yes, I really needed one! A big shout out goes to the Interim Director of the Office of Alumni Relations, Deb Armstrong, who kept me on schedule, supplied me with carmel creams and granola bars, organized all of my speaking scripts and accompanied me from one end of the campus to the other.

One of the highlights of Orange Central was the Arents Award Luncheon which recognized five outstanding alumni: Taye Diggs, Carole Swid Eisner, Henry Grethel, Sid Lerner and George Saunders. Since 1939, more than 200 distinguished and talented alumni have been honored with this award. Being at this event made me so proud to be an SU alum. Oh…did I mention that I got my picture taken with Taye Diggs? BOOM!

On Saturday morning we had a combined SU Alumni Association Board and SU Alumni Club Presidents meeting. Chancellor-designate Kent Syverud and his wife, Dr. Ruth Chen, stopped by to introduce themselves. Everyone has been joking with the new chancellor about being a Georgetown grad, so he wanted to set the record straight. He explained that he was a student at Georgetown before the Big East Conference was formed, and before the rivalry was established. Decked out in his orange sweater, the Upstate New York native emphatically assured our group that he will root for Syracuse…much to the delight and relief of everyone in the room!

Also on Saturday, the combined groups participated in an ice breaker where we were asked what musical instrument best describes your individual personality: piano, trumpet, bass or violin. I chose piano. And for all of you who know Northern New Jersey Alumni Club President Ira Berkowitz, does it surprise you at all that he chose trumpet? Of course it doesn’t! And I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you much either that he was chosen leader of the trumpets to make the group presentation…

As I close out this blog, I would like to leave you with these words that were written in 1893. Take your time reading them…reflect on your time as a student on The Hill. Whether you are Generation Orange or you just celebrated your 50th reunion, Syracuse University is our common bond, our alma mater…

Where the vale of Onondaga
Meets the eastern sky
Proudly stands our Alma Mater
On her hilltop high.
Flag we love! Orange! Float for aye-
Old Syracuse, o’er thee,
Loyal be thy sons and daughters
To thy memory.

All Aboard! (Part One)

July 30, 2013 § 2 Comments

Recently I was traveling back home on a jammed-packed Amtrak Acela train from NYC to Washington, D.C..  I had been in New York for a Syracuse University meeting and was really looking forward to kicking back in my seat and relaxing, enjoying a cocktail while reading a book on my IPad.  Little did I know that I would spend the next two and a half hours deeply entrenched in conversation and laughter!

As I boarded the train, it was every man and/or woman for him or herself.  Open seats were at a premium on this weekday, rush hour train.  Quickly I scoured the car and saw a man sitting by himself at a four top table.  “Is anyone else sitting here?” I asked.  With a roll of his eyes and a big sigh, he got up out of his seat and moved his bag from one of the empty seats to the overhead compartment.  Oh great, I thought, THIS is going to be a fun trip!  Less than a minute later another woman asked the man the same question.  Again, I got to witness the roll of the eyes with a big sigh.  The man didn’t seem to notice the glare she gave him as she dropped her bag on an empty seat and then left to walk up and down the car trying to find somewhere else to sit.  While she was desperately looking for that elusive open seat, another man approached us and asked if the final open seat was taken.  Well, with a big smile and the sweetest voice I could muster I replied “Why no, please join us!”  Take that Mr. Cranky Pants with the rolling eyes and heavy sighs!  And thus began our train ride of four strangers…

Well, even before we left Penn Station, the three of us (minus Mr. Cranky Pants) started talking.  Kate, a lawyer from NYC, was traveling to D.C. for business.  She received her undergrad degree from Dartmouth and her law degree from Duke.  Noah, from D.C., was heading back home from business.  He received his undergrad degree from Villanova and his MBA from Maryland.  It was Kate who was able to finally engage the fourth person in our group…Michael, also a lawyer, from D.C..  He received his undergrad degree from Rochester and his law degree from Emory.  Finally, the ice had been broken…

Commencement 2013

May 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

Last Sunday I had the privilege of delivering a speech at Syracuse University’s 159th commencement in the Carrier Dome, welcoming the graduates into the SU alumni family.  And what a family we are!  I am proud to say that we are a group of 245,000 strong that “bleed orange.”  And speaking of “bleeding orange,” if you haven’t had an opportunity yet to hear the student speech by University Scholar Jaime Bernstein, I strongly encourage you to do so.  Quite simply…it was spectacular.

Being a part of commencement was truly an amazing experience and something that I will always treasure.  Now, I have to admit I was a little intimidated with the prospect of speaking in the Dome in front of thousands of people, but if truth were to be told, it really wasn’t quite as scary as I thought it might be.  Maybe it was my degree from Newhouse that helped prepare me, or maybe it was seeing all of those smiling faces in the audience.  Whatever the reasons may be, I just felt so honored to be representing the SU Alumni Association that I just relaxed and enjoyed the moment.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Newhouse Dean Lorraine Branham during the commencement.  Her gown was a beautiful crimson color, and this got me thinking about the history of academic regalia.  What I found out was that the gowns, caps and hoods worn by faculty members and graduates date back to the Middle Ages when universities were being established in Europe.  Long gowns were seen as a necessity to keep warm in the unheated buildings and were worn on a daily basis.  The tradition carried over to American universities, but the gowns, caps and hoods were only used during commencement.  By the late 1800’s, the assignment of colors to signify different fields of learning came into existence…Architecture–Blue Violet, Arts–White, Communications–Crimson, Education–Light Blue, Engineering-Orange, Fine Arts-Brown, Law-Purple and so on.

Congratulations to the Class of 2013!  As I told the graduates, always remember our connection to Syracuse University never ends…we are Forever Orange!

Laurie

Atlanta Bound

April 2, 2013 § 3 Comments

As I sit here and write my first blog as President of the Syracuse University Alumni Association, I have to admit I am a bit distracted.  The upcoming Final Four in Atlanta has my head spinning!  I am so proud of the men’s basketball team and all that they have accomplished this season.  I will be traveling to Atlanta later this week, and I can’t wait for the game against Michigan!

 

As our focus shifts to Atlanta, I thought you would like to know about Syracuse University’s strong presence in the region. The Atlanta area bleeds Orange with nearly 2,800 alums. It is also home to over 100 current SU students.  Atlanta-area alumni, parents and friends volunteer in SU leadership positions such as the SU Board of Trustees, the SU Alumni Association, School and College Advisory Boards and the Atlanta Regional Council.  As our alma mater moves from the Big East Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference this summer, this will provide Syracuse University with even greater exposure in the region. 

 

I would also like to take this opportunity to publicly thank my predecessor and my good friend, Brian Spector.  It is an honor and a privilege to follow in his footsteps. Our Alumni Association is a better organization because of his commitment of time, thoughtful guidance and passion for the University.  Thank you, Brian, for your outstanding leadership!

 

So, with Georgia On My Mind, I will close out this blog.  Atlanta, get  ready…OrangeNation is about to descend upon your great city!

 

Laurie

A Passing of the Baton

February 2, 2013 § 5 Comments

I type this post with a profound sadness because, after a year and a half, it will prematurely be my last, but yet with a deep sense of pride in what was accomplished by the SU National Alumni Board during my term as its President.

On Tuesday, January 29th, in a letter to Chancellor Cantor and Board of Trustees Chair Dick Thompson, I resigned as SUAA President and as a member of the SU Board of Trustees. For those of you who know me, it was a difficult, if not painful, decision, but a necessary one. Without going into details, I resigned because I felt as if the decision not to invite a member of the National Alumni Board (not I, as I would have declined because of my other commitments) to serve on the New Chancellor Search Committee, and the failure to include the Board in the development of the Post-Campaign Plan for Regional Councils, with which our efforts are closely intertwined, or to even provide us with notice of such plans, were simply unacceptable. I know that those who made the decisions had their reasons, and I respect them; I just could not disagree more. I always promised myself that when a volunteer leadership position like this became more frustrating than fun and rewarding, it would be time to move on. Now is that time.

I am humbled by the overwhelmingly positive responses I have received thus far from so many people. As they say, it’s times like these when you realize who are your real friends.

Perhaps my resignation will stimulate a healthy discussion of the future and role of the National Alumni Board as representatives of the alumni community. Much progress has been made. With University staff oversight, the Board revised its by-laws and became smaller, yet made sure it remained diverse and representative of the entire alumni body. It took the lead on instilling a culture of philanthropy and adopted a Strategic Plan for Alumni Philanthropy that has been well-received and is being implemented. It coordinated its efforts with Generation Orange to make sure that our youngest alumni remain connected with SU and to serve as a platform for future engagement. It screened and recommended worthy recipients for the Arents Award, Eggers Award and Orange Circle Award. It achieved its goal to connect with numerous other constituencies both on and off campus. And, most importantly, it met its challenge to become the second most important Board at SU besides the Board of Trustees. I am proud of the Board for all of its efforts, and will miss working so closely with its members and OAR staff.

Now it is the time to look forward. I could not think of a more qualified person than Laurie Taishoff to take the reigns of the Board as it continues on its mission. I have had a chance to see Laurie develop into a true leader, and I am confident that she will do an outstanding job. As I have assured her, despite my resignation, I still love SU and will be available to provide her with assistance as she faces and tackles the challenges ahead. I also know that the other officers, committee chairs and members will fully support Laurie in her efforts.

I also want to thank the entire SU community, including the faithful followers and guest writers of this blog. It has been an honor to serve as Alumni President and to provide you with my “News & Views” on a monthly basis. I will cherish the memories of what I consider to be the experience of a lifetime.

And, for the last time, Go Orange!

Brian

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