Passion and Purpose
College campaign launch sets stage for a bright 'Tomorrow'

SUNY Oswego publicly launched “With Passion and Purpose: A Campaign for SUNY Oswego” in one record-shattering day—Thursday, Oct. 16.

“SUNY Oswego has never been as strong as it is today,” said President Deborah F. Stanley. “We are a great public institution that marries excellence and opportunity with access and affordability. October 16 exemplified the best of SUNY Oswego, folding in the excellence from all across campus with the support of our alumni, donors and friends into an unparalleled showcase of Oswego pride.”

Beginning at midnight, ESPN’s Steve Levy of the class of 1987 sponsored a 24-Hour Challenge to the college community to help kick off a historic $40 million fundraising campaign. Levy said if 750 people made a gift to SUNY Oswego on Oct. 16, he would donate $40,000 to the college.

Robin McAleese, a mental health counselor in SUNY Oswego’s Counseling Services Center and a 1993 graduate (master’s ‘95), made her gift at the stroke of midnight—taking the honor of being the first to accept Levy’s challenge.

More than a 1,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members came to campus before 5:30 a.m. to watch the live broadcast of “Wake Up With Al” and to be part of the live on-campus broadcast of NBC’s “Today” with Oswego alumnus Al Roker at 7 a.m. Thousands more Laker fans tuned in for the broadcasts from home.

By the halfway mark at noon, 305 donors had already made gifts.

People supported the college for a number of reasons. Robert Casper of the Admissions staff made a gift in honor of his mother, Frances Hitchcock Casper, a 1951 graduate. Peter and Jane North gave a gift in honor of their children, Jaime (class of 2013) and Daniel (class of 2016).

“I am currently a senior and have had the time of my life the first three-plus years I’ve spent here,” said senior Michael Brill, who also accepted Levy’s challenge and made a gift. “Becoming the seventh person in my family to go to Oswego was easily the best decision I ever made.”

While many supporters commented on the role Oswego played in their lives, others just enjoyed the light-hearted nature of Levy’s challenge. “Challenge . . . accepted!” said Adam Obstein, class of 2004, as he made his gift. “If he has $40k to spare, I can spare $40 bucks,” said John Long, class of 1989, who remembered having a class with Levy in his sophomore year.

At 2:30 p.m., the college recognized Charlie Rose of “CBS This Morning” and the “Charlie Rose” show on PBS with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Following the honorary doctorate presentation, Rose took the stage along with Roker (class of 1976), Ken Auletta (class of 1963), Dennis Thatcher and Connie Schultz for the 10th annual Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit.

During the summit, Lou Borrelli, the founder of the media summit and a 1977 graduate, received the SUNY Oswego Presidential Medal.

Throughout the day, the college community continued to respond to Levy’s challenge. By 7 p.m., 888 people had made gifts to Oswego and secured Levy’s $40,000 gift. Then a few more Oswego supporters stepped forward to issue a new challenge.

Vice chair of the Oswego College Foundation board and School of Business Advisory Board chair Michael Durney (class of 1983) and Joanne Snyder Durney (class of 1984) and Oswego Alumni Association board member Tim Barnhart (class of 2002) and Andrea Barnhart set a “super goal” of 1,016, celebrating the historic date of Oct. 16. If the college community reached this number, the Durneys would make a gift of $10,161.40 and the Barnharts would donate $6,000 to the college.

More than 100 alumni-athletes, former coaches and current coaches made gifts on Oct. 16, which counted for the 24-Hour Challenge and the Lakers Athletics Challenge sponsored by Dan Scaia, a 1968 graduate.

Building on the day’s momentum, Levy and President Stanley co-anchored “The Tomorrow Show,” a live student webcast recorded before a studio audience of President’s Circle donors, including alumni, campus employees, advisory board members and friends. The show was produced by Matt Bishop, a 2014 graduate, and WTOP broadcasting students—who said that the experience was the ultimate hands-on learning opportunity.

The show featured segments about some of Oswego’s signature academic programs and hands-on learning experiences, including interviews with students and faculty from human-computer interaction, the student investment club, Global Labs, the music department, clinically rich programs in the School of Education and meteorology.

President Stanley announced that, thanks to lead gifts from the college’s most loyal supporters, the college had already raised $31 million of the $40 million goal.

NBC meteorologist Al Roker ‘76 shared a special campaign forecast on the remaining $9 million to be raised.

“We’ve got a sweeping front moving in over the Eastern Seaboard region that’s got the potential to pick up a lot of support for The Fund for Oswego,” Roker said. “The outpouring of gifts could be heavy at times, especially in and around the Big Apple and across the lake-effect regions of Central New York. . . . I really like what I’m seeing in the extended forecast for Oswego,” he said. “I’d say this one is going in the record books—we’re going to reach our historic $40 million goal with your help.”

Following the show, guests were invited to a “cast party,” where they could meet with faculty, students and staff from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the School of Business; the School of Communication, Media and the Arts; and the School of Education as well as representatives from student organizations and experiential learning programs.

A highlight for public relations senior Bridget Jackson was reconnecting with “her alumna,” Joan Reinhart Cear, class of 1980. They initially met at New York City Career Connections, an annual event sponsored by the Oswego Alumni Association, which brings together juniors and seniors interested in working in New York City with successful alumni in the Metro-New York area every January.

Cear encouraged Jackson to apply for a New York Women in Communication scholarship, which Jackson won. Jackson has since secured an internship at Kellen Communications, where Cear serves as vice president.

“This has been a fabulous evening, and it was great seeing Joan,” Jackson said. “She has been a great help to me. I can’t wait to be somebody else’s Joan Cear!”

“Wow!” said SUNY Oswego Alumni Association Board Chair Keith Chamberlain, of the class of 1987. “SUNY Oswego was the place where we went, but now, it’s the place where people want to go. I’m so proud to say Oswego State is my alma mater.”

By 11:59 p.m., 1,163 donors joined the excitement from across the globe to raise $143,584.33 for The Fund for Oswego by participating in the 24-Hour Challenge. Their participation secured $56,161.40 in gifts from challengers Levy and the Durneys and Barnharts, bringing the total amount raised to $199,745.73.

This is the most donors the college has ever had in a single day. The college community also shattered its records for the most activity on its social media platforms, and even had the No. 1 and No. 2 top trends (@alroker and @sunyoswego) on Twitter for New Yorks state on Oct. 16.

“‘The Tomorrow Show’ took this campaign to a whole new level,” said Bill Spinelli (class of 1984), chair of the Oswego College Foundation. “This is a very proud moment for the college. The college community supports our goal of raising funds for students and our work to improve the college in every way we can.”

PHOTO CAPTION 1: Celebrity hosts—Steve Levy, anchor of ESPN’s Sports Center, hosted “The Tomorrow Show” webcast with SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley on Oct. 16. Photo by Robert Mescavage Photography.

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Talk show—Steve Levy, anchor of ESPN’s Sports Center, chats with student TV station WTOP chief meteorologist Molly Mattot on “The Tomorrow Show,” in one of several segments spotlighting students and faculty. Photo by Chuck Wainwright.

(Posted: Oct 20, 2014)