July 21, 2014 § Leave a 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.
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…
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…
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.
April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment
It 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…
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: http://www.syr.edu/alumni/whereyoulive/clubs/. 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 ;)
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!
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…
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/
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.
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…