Syracuse University Magazine

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Brian Spector

With The Campaign for Syracuse University almost behind us, now is the time to reflect on our success, but only for a moment. While we exceeded the lofty $1 billion goal set by Chancellor Cantor—even during the Great Recession—alumni support is even more crucial now than it has been over the past five years.

Although the campaign benefited greatly from the support of major donors, in the coming years SU will need to broaden giving participation from all alumni. From our most recent grads, known as Generation Orange, to today’s students, who are our future alumni, and beyond, the most important objective is to instill a “culture of philanthropy,” so that, in a few years, giving back will be as natural and integral to being SU alumni as attending a sports event, Orange Central, or local alumni gatherings.

The SU Alumni Association has taken the lead in promoting a philanthropic culture by developing and implementing a Strategic Plan for Alumni Philanthropy, which will train and empower alumni volunteers at all levels to spread the word on the importance of broad-based alumni participation.

Why does this matter? Annual giving is critical for SU to fulfill its mission to ensure that current and future students have the same opportunities to succeed as we did. Not only that, but it will also improve our alumni participation rate—a measure of an institution’s reputation among its alumni about how satisfied they are with their college experience. The higher the rate, the clearer the message is about the quality and value of a degree and the success of an institution’s alumni. For these reasons alone, we should all be committed to significantly increasing our alumni participation rate.

It also matters because corporations and foundations, which SU depends on for grants and sponsored research dollars, among other contributions, consider the alumni participation rate as a barometer in making philanthropic decisions. In other words, the higher the participation rate, the more likely it is an institution will receive generous corporate and foundation support.

Most importantly, it’s not how much you give, but rather that you are counted among those who do give. Moving the needle just a bit is better than not moving it at all. And, if everyone gives just a little, our participation rate will increase, and you will be surprised by how even small gifts can add up to make a big difference.

So let’s look back with a deep sense of pride and satisfaction at our historic accomplishment during difficult economic times, and look forward to an even better future by participating and making your gift to the Annual Fund or to whatever part of SU is most meaningful to you. Thank you and Go Orange! 

Brian Spector ’78

President, Syracuse University Alumni Association