Syracuse University Magazine

forensics_2.jpgMembers of the Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute (FNSSI) at SU—Meredith Professor James T. Spencer (FNSSI executive director, left), chemistry professor Michael Sponsler (program director) and Professor of Practice Kevin Sweder—talk forensics with alumni during a panel discussion at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C., in May.

Miles Apart, Close at Heart

Syracuse University alumni from Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., had a unique opportunity to play detective at a pair of events showcasing the many ways the College of Arts and Sciences new master’s degree program in forensic science is using education and research to combat crime and terrorism. The presentations—From Sherlock Holmes to C.S.I.: Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute—were part of the University’s regional fund-raising initiative to support The Campaign for Syracuse University, which has raised more than $876 million toward its $1 billion goal. "With a little more than a year left to reach our goal, the primary purpose of the four- to six-month regional campaigns is to encourage alumni to become more actively involved with their alma mater," says Karen Spear, executive director of regional advancement. "Our aim is to elevate the University’s presence in several key cities, including Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C."

Boston area alumni kicked off the regional campaigns last fall, raising slightly more than $1 million in gifts and pledges during a four-month period. In December, the campaign moved on to Los Angeles, a city with a growing Orange presence. Some 7,663 alumni call L.A. home, and SU students will soon attend classes at a new campus site in Sherman Oaks for the expanding L.A. Semester and immersion programs.The L.A. Regional Council hosted a variety of activities designed to connect West Coast alumni to the Hill, including a reception at Walt Disney Studios for alumni, parents, and friends employed by Disney ABC, and a networking get-together for members of Generation Orange, a community of alumni who graduated during the past 10 years. As of June 30, L.A. donors had pledged $1.7 million during the 7-month campaign.

One Generation Orange alumna who is taking advantage of the L.A. Orange network is Erin Westerman ’04, director of development at Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production. "SU has a pride and camaraderie you don’t always see at other schools, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it," says Westerman, who is working on a movie starring Jennifer Garner. "My SU experience showed me the importance of teamwork and that a career in Hollywood was within my reach. Now it’s my responsibility to offer new grads support and advice."

Washington, D.C.—with nearly 14,000 alumni living in the area and more than 500 undergraduates attending SU—has especially close ties with Syracuse University. An active group of alumni, parents, and business leaders makes up the D.C. Regional Council, whose members volunteer their time and talent to strengthen the University’s presence in this vital region and expand its base of philanthropic support. As of June 30, the D.C.-area community had pledged a total of $18 million since the start of the regional campaign there in February. Included in that total is a $15 million commitment from David B. Falk ’72 and Rhonda S. Falk ’74—one of the largest-ever single gifts to the University.

Beginning in October, SU will launch regional campaigns in New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco, respectively, to reconnect with alumni and motivate them to help move the University forward. "We want to ensure that everyone is invited to be part of The Campaign for Syracuse University," Spear says. "When we reach our $1 billion goal at the conclusion of the campaign in 2012, I know alumni from these six regions will be a big part of our success." —Christine Yackel