Syracuse University Magazine


David Edelstein ’78

Windy City Orange

Like many first-year college students, David Edelstein was undecided about what major to declare. But it all became clear when he took a summer school class in COBOL programming at a community college near his home in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. “I only took the class because I wanted to be near a girl I was dating at the time,” he admits. “I fell in love with computer programming instead.” When he returned to SU that fall, Edelstein enrolled in the School of Computer and Information Science, now part of the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS). “I ultimately got a bachelor’s degree in systems and information science,” says Edelstein, who was the first in his family to go to college. “It was an applied degree that focused on how a computer is used in a variety of settings, rather than on what’s happening under the hood.”

The following summer, Edelstein took a job as a computer programmer at IBM to see if that was what he really wanted to pursue as a career. He had a jump start on the competition because he’d taken a class in APL, a programming language invented by IBM. “When IBM offered me my first full-time job after graduation, I knew SU had prepared me well for my chosen profession,” says Edelstein, who also has an M.B.A. degree from Bernard M. Baruch College. Edelstein’s career trajectory included positions in information management at Bristol–Myers Squibb Company in New York, New Jersey, and Indiana; and chief information officer at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics (formerly Dade Behring) in Illinois. “My wife is from Evanston, Illinois, and we had an unwritten agreement when we got married that someday we’d end up in Evanston,” says Edelstein, who retired in 2011. 

Edelstein now devotes most of his time volunteering in the Evanston community and serving on the SU Board of Trustees, to which he was elected in 2011. He is a member of the board’s academic affairs and student affairs committees, and serves as chair of the LCS Dean’s Advisory Council, the college’s Campaign Leadership Council, and SU’s Chicago Regional Council. And, as an affiliate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at LCS, he gives lectures on complex integration projects, and health care and information technology.  “I look at my role as a trustee as if I’m a director of a company,” Edelstein says. “My job is to make sure the University conducts itself in a way that is in sync with its values and to help set policy about where we want to go and how we want to respond to the issues of the day.”

When The Campaign for Syracuse University kicked off, Edelstein felt it was the right time to make a contribution to his alma mater. He established the Orange-to-Orange Scholarship Fund to help students from Evanston Township High School interested in engineering come to SU, with a preference for underserved populations. “The official color for both schools is orange, so it seemed like a perfect match,” he says. He and his wife, Jennie E. Berkson, also endowed the David G. Edelstein Professor of Practice for Systems Engineering at LCS. And, as part of the regional campaign initiative, he created the Chicago Orange Fund with a gift challenge, matching all new cash gifts with an equal amount up to $100,000. “There’s a lot going on in Chicago now, and we’re proud of the number of students we’re sending to SU,” Edelstein says. “I have no doubt an Orange presence will continue to grow in the Chicago area long after the campaign ends.” —Christine Yackel

For a lively conversation about all things Orange between David Edelstein and Anthony Noble ’99, chair of the Washington, D.C., Regional Council, go to Edelstein’s blog at