Reception returns to the Chancellor’s House

Photo: The Chancellor's House

For the CBT 2017 Chancellor’s Reception, we are proud to announce that Syracuse University Chancellor and President Kent Syverud and his wife, Dr. Ruth Chen, will host alumni and students at the Chancellor’s House. Enjoy conversation and refreshments in this historic campus location and get to know Chancellor Syverud and Dr. Chen.

Constructed in 1902, the residence was acquired by the University in 1915. It underwent renovations in 1970 and 1991.

The Chancellor will participate in several events during CBT, including a 5K walk/run and the Chancellor’s Citation presentation, which takes place during the Saturday night gala dinner.

Now more than ever, students need your support!

Photo: spring flowers on SU quadSyracuse University’s 2017-18 budget reflects a continued commitment to increasing student financial aid, controlling student cost of attendance, and maximizing resources in a way that enriches the overall student experience.

While the budget includes the largest commitment to University-funded financial aid ever, our students rely on your support to help manage cost of attending college.

“Sometimes financial aid is not enough,” says Rachel Vassel ’91, assistant vice president of the Office of Program Development. “The team here knows the financial stress that getting a college degree can create, particularly for our students of color. One of the core missions for our department is to relieve some of the financial pressure on students and to give them the opportunity to obtain their degrees. However, we cannot do that without the support of our alumni who know how to pay it forward and give back. The announcement of next year’s tuition increase demonstrates why we need to make sure that the Our Time Has Come endowment remains properly funded.”

Our Time Has Come scholars are leaders in and out of the classroom. They maintain high GPAs, work part-time jobs, and participate in community service. Many are first-generation college students. Your support makes it possible for them to reach their amazing potential, today and tomorrow.


OTHC scholars honored at special event

Photo: OTHC scholars at receptionThe Chancellor’s House recently served as the backdrop for the Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholars Reception, held annually by the Office of Program Development. Now in its 30th year and facing constantly rising college costs, the endowed scholarship fund is more necessary for today’s students than ever before.

“Many of the scholars are first-generation college students, and some come from humble beginnings, but they are all hardworking individuals with big futures ahead of them,” says Rachel Vassel ’91, assistant vice president of the Office of Program Development. “While the minimum GPA for an OTHC scholarship is 2.5, our current scholars average a 3.6 GPA. Not only that, they are succeeding academically while being actively involved on campus.”

After remarks from Vassel, Chancellor Kent Syverud spoke, as did Special Assistant to the Chancellor Barry L. Wells with a special donor message. Then the 11 graduating recipients received stoles and certificates in recognition of their academic achievements. There are currently 40 OTHC Scholars.

During the program, recipients Jose Gonzalez ’17 and Sonya Mattis ’17 had the opportunity to speak.

“As an Our Time Has Come Scholar, I did not have to take any further loans out, and more importantly my family did not have to pay any additional money in this final year at Syracuse,” Gonzalez told the audience. “For this reason, I want to thank all the donors who, through their generosity, help us students in continuing to achieve our dream in furthering our education and obtaining a college diploma. I thank them for trusting in us, more personally in trusting in me.”

“SU has made me a stronger person who isn’t afraid to challenge myself or the people around me,” Mattis said. “It is a place where everyone can find their footing and excel in their own right. And I just love that. If I could leave you all with one message, it would be that I’m happy that no one told me four years ago how much Syracuse University would’ve changed my life because it made every single second of this experience worth it for me.”

With Commencement just around the corner, and the OTHC Scholars ready to enter the workforce, the team in the Office of Program Development hopes these new graduates will remember the support they had and will consider giving back. As Vassel told them, “There is a 12-year-old out there somewhere who is waiting for your contribution.”

Pre-CBT reception recaps: NYC and LA

Photo: Alumni at the NYC pre-CBT receptionSince the last issue of Shades of Orange, the Office of Program Development hosted two additional pre-CBT receptions, one in Los Angeles and the other in New York City.

West Coast alumni gathered at Porta Via in Beverly Hills and were joined by Rachel Vassel ’91, assistant vice president of the Office of Program Development, and Jessie Mejia ’97, CBT co-chair. The New York City event was held at Lovage, a rooftop lounge where our other CBT co-chair, Gwen Wilcox, joined Vassel and welcomed nearly 200 alumni.

Both successful receptions demonstrated the growth in alumni interest and engagement as CBT 2017 approaches.

Visit our Facebook page to view the photos from the events.

Register for CBT today!

A new chapter for Bea Gonzalez

Photo: Vice President of Community Engagement Bea GonzalezAs Syracuse University continues to implement the bold ideas outlined in the Academic Strategic Plan and Campus Framework, Bea González, a key member of Chancellor Kent Syverud’s executive team, has taken on a new expanded portfolio.

González is now responsible for leading and advancing the University’s community investment efforts, following the approval of the Board of Trustees Executive Committee at its last meeting. González continues as a special assistant to the Chancellor and liaison to the Posse Foundation Scholarship Program. To accommodate her expanded role, however, González stepped down as dean of University College in February.

“Bea is perfectly situated to create new partnerships and build on existing relationships with local governments and municipalities, foundations, corporations, and nonprofit organizations,” says Chancellor Syverud. “Bea has been a champion of our community, and of students from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences for nearly four decades. There is no one better to lead Syracuse University’s robust and impactful portfolio of community-connected initiatives.”


In this new role, González is tasked with conceptualizing, creating, and implementing new strategies and partnerships to the benefit of the University and community stakeholders. Her work will also build on the success of past initiatives aimed at strengthening the Syracuse University community and enhancing the University’s reach.

“Syracuse University has a long and proud history of partnering with and supporting local communities and regional initiatives,” says González. “This is an exciting new chapter in my career. I look forward to working closely with University leadership and community stakeholders to take our investment in local communities to the next level. Enhancing the lives of all members of our community has and will always be at the heart of my professional work.”

In addition to her many years of leadership at Syracuse University, González has a distinguished public service record, having been elected to public office three times. In 2001, she became the first Latino/a to be elected president of the City of Syracuse Common Council. She also served on the Syracuse City School District’s Board of Education.

In her new position, González will report to and collaborate closely with Chancellor Syverud and J. Michael Haynie, who was named vice chancellor of strategic initiatives and innovations in June.

Vernon E. Jordan Jr. to deliver 2017 Commencement address

Photo: Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., civil rights activist, business executive and attorney, will deliver the 2017 Commencement address at the ceremony for Syracuse University on Sunday, May 14, at the Carrier Dome. Jordan will also be awarded an honorary degree, a Doctor of Laws, at the 163rd Commencement exercises.

“Vernon Jordan has been a leading American civil rights leader and public policy advisor for more than 50 years,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “Our graduates will benefit from hearing Mr. Jordan’s insights and perspective on the global society they are about to enter. His vast experience and success in government and business, combined with his commitment to a civil and just society, will inspire our students as they set off to chart their own course in the world.”

Jordan is a senior managing director of Lazard Frères & Co. LLC in New York. There, he works with a diverse group of clients across a broad range of industries. Prior to joining Lazard, Jordan was senior executive partner with the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, where he remains senior counsel. There, Jordan practiced general, corporate, legislative and international law in Washington, D.C.

In 1992, Jordan served as chairman of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Transition Team. He has held several presidential appointments, including the President’s Advisory Committee for the Points of Light Initiative Foundation and the Advisory Council on Social Security.

“I’m grateful to Syracuse University for this honor. It has been 60 years since I graduated from college, and I’m eager to share with the Class of 2017 and the Syracuse community my thoughts on, and the need for, our shared fight for justice,” says Jordan.

“Our graduating class is fortunate to have someone as distinguished as Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. as our Commencement speaker,” says Senior Class Marshal Rachel Brown-Weinstock. “His address will be an exciting part of graduation, and I know my fellow classmates will be inspired by his story.”

Senior Class Marshal Nedda Sarshar is also looking forward to Commencement and hearing Jordan’s charge to the Class of 2017.

“Vernon Jordan has wisdom beyond measure and has experienced things none of us can even imagine,” says Sarshar. “I am eager to hear his perspective as we prepare to make our own marks on the world.”

As a young attorney practicing in Arkansas and Georgia, Jordan was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. He served as Georgia field director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and director of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council. He later served as president and CEO of the National Urban League and executive director of the United Negro College Fund.

A list of the other honorary degree candidates will be announced soon. For full information on Commencement 2017, visit

Our Time Has Come celebrates 30th anniversary

Photo: OTHC scholar at CommencementSince 1987, the Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholarship has created opportunity for Syracuse University’s African American and Latino students. It has also served as the launch pad to success in careers and public service for countless alumni.

Borne out of conversations between former Program Development leaders Robert Hill and Evelyn Walker and alumnus David Bing ’66, H’06, OTHC began with the realization that no one understood the challenges of African American and Latino students better than African American and Latino alumni. That shared experience would inspire alumni to support scholarships that would create and promote a diverse student body.

Bing was recruited as the first campaign chair, and he eagerly accepted the invitation. As a student in the 1960s, Bing recalls being one of only about a hundred African American students on campus. “By starting this program and making it very public, I felt we could provide scholarship support to increase the numbers of students of color on campus,” he says.

A scholarship recipient himself, Bing knew the importance of achieving a successful campaign. “Many of us received financial aid during our years at Syracuse so we can appreciate the importance of scholarships.” says Bing. “Now that we’re in the position to do so, I felt it was important to give back and help students of promise succeed.”

The first OTHC campaign raised $1.2 million by 1995, including seven endowed scholarships funded by:

  •    David Bing ’66, H’06
  •    Wayne K. Brown ’78
  •    Frank Carmona ’78 and
  •    Leon O. Woods ’65, ’85

A second five-year fundraising effort  under the leadership of Larry Martin increased the total to $3.1 million, and added additional named endowments from:

  •    Former SU Trustee Ragan Henry
  •    Eleanor and Richard T. Johnson ’52
  •    Lois and Martin J. Whitman ’49, H’08, and
  •    Corning Inc.

Subsequent endowments have been established by:

  •    The Alpha Kappa Alpha Iota Upsilon Chapter
  •    the Black Celestial Choral Ensemble
  •    the Class of 1974
  •    Delta Sigma Theta
  •    Gisele Marcus ’89
  •    Homer L. Harrison
  •    Keith Brown ’82 and Victor Holman ’82
  •    Angela Y. Robinson ’78
  •    the Syracuse 8, and
  •    an endowed scholarship in public communications.

Despite amazing progress over the past three decades, strengthening the scholarship for future generations is more important than ever. Learn more about how you can support African American and Latino students by giving to the Our Time Has Come Scholarship.

Read more about this story in the Spring issue of Syracuse Manuscript.

DC-area alumni gather at pre-CBT reception March 16

Photo: Alumni at Washington, DC pre-CBT reception The Office of Program Development kicked off its first Pre-Coming Back Together (CBT) reception in D.C. on March 16. It was the first stop in a nationwide series of events to promote CBT (September 14-17). African American and Latino alumni gathered at D.C.’s Cuba Libre Restaurant to reunite and share memories of their time on campus as well as catch up on their post-collegiate lives.

Cuba Libre’s high ceilings, plant-covered trellises, and flowers provided the perfect backdrop for the event, which felt like it was taking place in a tropical grotto. The buzz for CBT appears to be strong already; nearly everyone who attended registered. Plenty of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia alumni will be headed to Syracuse this fall!

CBT co-chair Jesse Mejia ’97 co-hosted the event with Rachel Vassel ’91, assistant vice president of the Office of Program Development. In welcoming remarks, Mejia took a moment to talk about the deep love alumni share for SU and how they are deeply committed to the University for the opportunities they found there.

“Regardless of when they graduated, the love of SU was consistent and in high spirits,” said Mejia. “The conversations I had with many alumni was that ‘I will be there! I am not missing CBT. We need to keep on giving.’ Many are looking forward to seeing old friends and some even said that they have been to every CBT since its inception.”

Stay tuned for a recap of our next Pre-CBT reception in Atlanta, and be sure to check out the Facebook album from the event on April 10. And be sure to register for the upcoming receptions in Los Angeles (April 13), New York City (April 20), and Syracuse (April 27).

In the meantime, check out the Facebook album from the reception and be sure to like, comment, and share.

Black History Month: MacDonald and Mayes Honored with Trailblazer Award

Photo: Professor Emeritus David MacDonald and associate professor Janis Mayes

SU students, faculty, alumni, and Syracuse residents came out for the Black Lounge celebration on Saturday, Feb. 11. Rachel Vassel, assistant vice president of the Office of Program Development, and Cedric T. Bolton, coordinator of student engagement in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, presented David MacDonald and Janis A. Mayes with the annual Trailblazer Award during the celebration and dinner. The Trailblazer Award recognizes those who personify exemplary leadership, selfless acts, and dedication to Syracuse University.

MacDonald’s artistic works are heavily inspired by his investigation of his African heritage and the surface decoration seen in the many ethnic groups of sub-Saharan Africa. His work is in the permanent collections of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey, and Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse. He is also co-founder of the Community Folk Art Center.

Mayes’s research and teaching interests focus on African and diaspora literatures in French and English languages, international black women’s writing and literary translation practice and studies. She is also the director and creator of Paris Noir, a joint program of the College of Arts and Sciences and SU Abroad, which takes students to Paris to explore the influence of black culture and literature.

“We are pleased to recognize and celebrate the many contributions Janis and David have made to the Syracuse University community, especially their contributions to the arts and to the many students who have been influenced and impacted by their teaching,” says Angela Morales-Patterson, assistant director of alumni and donor engagement in the Office of Program Development.

The event was co-sponsored by the Black Artist League, Black Graduate Student Association, Office of Program Development, Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Student African American Society.  The event featured musical headliner Riff, an R&B vocal group from Paterson, New Jersey, featured in the film, Lean on Me, a movie based on events that took place at their high school, Eastside High. Artists ASV “On Fire for God,” Charity Luster, TANKSLEY and DJ Maestro also performed.

“The Black Lounge is a signature event of our Black History Month celebration where we celebrate aspects of black music, art and culture,” says Cedric T. Bolton, coordinator of student engagement in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “Each year we are pleased to partner with many great organizations to honor members of our community, enjoy music, and support independent and emerging black artists.”


Our Supporters Make First-Ever Online Campaign a Success

Graphic: SU campaign graphic - interlocked handsIn December, the Office of Program Development looked to Facebook to create and launch a digital ad campaign to reach the department’s audience in a space they frequent. Five Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholars were featured in short video clips for the campaign. In each, they share the importance and effect the scholarship had on their lives and the opportunities it provides. One is a first-generation college student, while others are able to focus on doing well in class without worrying about finances, striving to be a forensic scientist, work in bioengineering or advertising.

By all measures, the campaign was a success. It generated $23,029 and thousands of  video views. While this particular campaign may be over, it is never too late to support students of color like the OTHC Scholars.