Omega Fund established by Derrick Hostler ’85, Michael Blackshear ’91

Photo: Alumni at the Omega Psi Phi monument on the Orange GroveThe Omega Psi Phi fraternity launches campaign to create Our Time Has Come scholarship fund.

We are pleased to announce the Kappa Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity has launched a campaign to raise $50,000 to establish an endowed scholarship in support of the Office of Program Development’s Our Time Has Come (OTHC) scholarship fund. Dedicated to providing financial support for African American and Latino students pursuing their undergraduate or graduate degrees, 50 OTHC scholarships were awarded in the 2016-17 academic year.

Omega brothers Derrick Hostler ’85 and Michael Blackshear ’91 are spearheading the effort for the fraternity, which was the first black organization to set up on the Syracuse University campus. Hostler, who has made personal contributions to OTHC over the years, says the second cardinal principle of Omega Psi Phi is scholarship, so it should not come as a surprise that members have decided to support students of color at SU.

Photo: Derrick Hostler ’85
Derrick Hostler ’85
Photo: Michael Blackshear ’91
Michael Blackshear ’91

“Since the last CBT the brothers of Omega Psi Phi have been discussing a group effort,” says Hostler. “I was fortunate enough to have a family that supported my efforts, have access to student loans, and the contacts to secure paid internships that helped to bridge any gap in funds I faced from year to year. It is clear to me that everyone will not be as fortunate, and I am committed to doing my small part to help those who have the drive to succeed, but perhaps need a little financial support along the way.”

The addition of the scholarship by Omega Psi Phi would bring the total to 28 scholarships supporting black and Latino students. Rachel Vassel ’91, assistant vice president of the Office of Program Development, has been helping Hostler and Blackshear navigate the process of establishing the fund.

“I was so excited to help Derrick and Michael when they approached me with the idea to establish the scholarship fund,” says Vassel. “Both of these Omega brothers are successful, engaged, and passionate about paying it forward by giving back to our African American and Latino alumni.”

Vassel points out that OTHC scholarships have created opportunities for Syracuse University’s African American and Latino students since 1987. “The need for financial support continues to grow, however,” she says. “We will be able to support even more students when this new fund is established.”

While Hostler hopes the fund will continue to grow and that more students’ lives can be positively impacted over the coming years, he has a bit more in mind. “I also hope the fund opens a bridge from those students to the alumni who contribute to the fund, so there can be a dialogue between those who are going through the SU educational experience and those who’ve completed the journey.”

To help Omega Psi Phi reach its goal, visit the Program Development giving page and look for the “Kappa Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Speed-mentoring event Sept. 15

Photo: a mentor and student taking notesThis fast, fun networking event is sponsored by the Black Leadership Network and Friends of Syracuse.

Please join us at a networking mixer for current students to meet with Latino and black alumni from 8–10 a.m. on Friday, September 15.

“As our black and Latino alumni know, one of the most valuable aspects of your Syracuse University education is the vast network of alumni who are incredibly passionate about SU and are anxious to help,” says Angela Morales-Patterson, assistant director of alumni and donor engagement in the Office of Program Development. “We are looking for alumni from across all fields and professions who would like to provide career advice to current students during a ‘speed networking’ session.”

For more information, contact Candace Johnson at

CBT silent auction items needed

Help make our first silent auction a success!

Graphic: "Donate to our silent auction!" Photos of luxury items and SU gear.We’re excited to debut the CBT 2017 silent auction to benefit the Our Time Has Come Scholarships. We are looking for alumni to donate high-end items, gift certificates, and experiences for the auction that will take place during the CBT gala, Saturday, September 16. All money raised will support the OTHC fund, which benefits African American and Latino students at Syracuse University.

“The support of our alumni is key to the continued success of the OTHC scholarship, which is one of the few funds specifically directed toward black and brown students on our campus,” says Office of Program Development Executive Director Mark Jackson.

If you are interested in donating to the silent auction, please email Monique Frost at by Saturday, July 1 for more information.

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.

Latino Alumni Engagement Team formed

Photo: Latino alumniPlanning and promotion for CBT 2017 continue to pick up, which is why the team in the Office of Program Development is so grateful to have found a group of alumni willing to assist with Latino alumni engagement. We welcome Zhamyr Cueva ’93, Raquenel Jackson ’95, Connie Morales ’96, and Jessie Mejia ’97 as our Latino Alumni Engagement team. They will work as passionate advocates to share updates about CBT with friends and to help spread word about the reunion in September.

“Through our CBT participation, we can continue to impact SU and help ensure that Latino students have a positive, meaningful experience. Attendance at this year’s CBT is a great first step,” says Morales.

CBT launched in 1983. At the time, it was the first and only reunion of its kind in the nation. While early reunions targeted African American alumni, CBT eventually grew to include Latino graduates. For our 2017 CBT reunion, there will be several events specifically for the Latino community.

“Our Latino undergrads on campus are expecting fellow Latinos to come back to Syracuse in high numbers,” says Mejia. “This year, we will have a Hispanic heritage parade, where we will encourage our alumni to walk the route carrying the flags from their parents’ country of origin. For our Latino Greek organizations, we will unveil a marble bench, similar to the National Pan Hellenic Council bench in the Orange Grove, acknowledging the contributions of Latinos to the fabric of Syracuse University.”

Morales sees participation in CBT 2017 as essential to both professional and personal lives. “We are a network of people who are changing the world in many different ways. Our ability to connect to each other at our alma mater in an intimate environment only makes us stronger,” she says.“We gave our community a much-needed face, a voice, and a presence by introducing Latino Greek life and participating in student government and so many other organizations. Some were culturally based, and many were not.It is important for undergraduates and future generations of Syracuse students to know that we impacted the University.”

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.