Syracuse University Magazine

Passion Meets Transformation

Passion Meets Transformation

The Campaign for Syracuse University concludes with a total of $1,044,352,779

New Year’s Eve 2012 marked a worldwide celebration, as millions of people bid farewell to the calendar year and embraced a new beginning. But for Syracuse University and its extended family, that day held a special significance—after seven years, and despite the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, The Campaign for Syracuse University closed with a total of $1,044,352,779—nearly double the amount of the past two campaigns combined. Here’s a brief summary of the campaign and its tremendous impact on SU.

Orange Passion Reigns 

Under the guidance of Chancellor Nancy Cantor, the passion to take SU to new heights sparked a University-wide shift toward a philanthropic culture. Since 2005, SU’s volunteer leadership has tripled. School and college advisory boards have united, and regional councils have been established and mobilized from coast to coast. Students have gotten involved, too, reinvigorating senior class giving, and forming the Student Philanthropy Council. And in 2011, SU’s inaugural Philanthropy Week marked a campus-wide celebration of the vital role altruism plays in society.

Donors Rally

SU alumni, parents, faculty, staff, friends, students, corporations, and foundations all rallied to support the campaign. They came from every state in the United States and 65 countries worldwide, and they all gave for different reasons. 

Still, all of the campaign’s 65,589 donors shared important qualities. Whether they gave to leave personal legacies or honor loved ones, or chose to support new scholarships, faculty positions, research, or campus expansions, they all believed in SU’s mission of Scholarship in Action—educating students “for the world, in the world.” And, they understood that their gifts were really investments in the future.


Brenna Carlin ’11

“I believe in giving back to those who have helped me,” says Brenna Carlin ’11, one of nearly 3,600 Generation Orange alums—grads of the past 10 years—who gave to the campaign. “SU offered me many opportunities, so it’s important to show my appreciation!”


Dollars Add Up

The campaign’s success demonstrated that every gift and pledge counts. While three of the 197 commitments of $1 million or more were among the largest in SU history, the University couldn’t have exceeded its $1 billion goal without 224,191 cash gifts, pledges, and deferred gifts of all sizes—right down to the $20 and-change gifts SU seniors made to commemorate their class years. With leadership from the campaign’s co-chairs and trustees—Melanie Gray L’81, Deryck Palmer ’78, and Howie Phanstiel ’70, G’71—this broad base of support pushed SU to the finish. 


Endowment Grows

Made up of hundreds of endowed funds established to last in perpetuity, SU’s endowment provides a secure financial foundation for the future. The $200 million in endowed funds established to support SU faculty are especially important, since they enable the University to attract and retain world-class educators.

To encourage more faculty endowments, the Board of Trustees created the Faculty Today gift challenge program. By supplementing the earnings generated by a newly endowed fund, Faculty Today enables SU to hire outstanding educators immediately, not years from now. The result is 100 endowed SU faculty chairs and professorships—more than double what SU had in 2005.


Kelsey Modica ’15

“I wouldn’t have been able to attend SU without a Phanstiel Scholarship, which is targeted toward middle-class families who often find themselves in a gap for receiving financial aid,” says Kelsey Modica ’15. “I’m thankful every day for the opportunities I have at SU and realize how lucky I am to have this chance to pursue my dreams. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”


Bilal Bey ’13

“Many aren’t given the opportunity to study and attend a premier university, so I’m beyond grateful,” says Bilal Bey ’13, a Say Yes Scholar and the first in his family to attend college. “Making my loved ones proud has motivated me to complete my degree and excel to the next level, and I’d like donors to know what a difference they’re making. When you give, you’re changing the outlook for a student’s future.”

SU Transforms 

The campaign’s impact has been most apparent in the 12-plus major building and renovation projects on campus, but they’re just the beginning. New leading-edge programs were created. Community programs like the Connective Corridor and the Near West Side Initiative were established. Campus expansions took place in New York City, Los Angeles, and Dubai, and new student immersion experiences were introduced. 

As a result, a fast-growing number of prospective students have identified SU as their “dream school,” with a 100 percent increase in applications since 2005. Admission is more selective, and the student body more diverse and widespread—with nearly 36 percent of students coming from outside the Northeast and 9 percent from outside the United States. And with more than $19 million raised for Say Yes to Education, the first district-wide school improvement program of its kind in the country, SU has been working to ensure all Syracuse public school students can afford and succeed in college.


To fully describe the transformation that has taken place would require far more space than we have here. For a bird’s eye view, visit the interactive map at

  • Fast Forward
  • A Survivor's Journey
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  • Passion Meets Transformation