Roker boosts Oswego campaign with leadership gift

Al RokerAl Roker of NBC’s “Today” show, a 1976 graduate of SUNY Oswego, has made a leadership gift to the college. His donation, which includes a matching gift from NBC, will support the college’s annual media summit and the student television studio in the Campus Center.

“Al Roker has been a loyal ambassador for Oswego throughout his career and generous in sharing his love for the college,” said Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley. “With this exceptional gift, he is passing on the benefits of an Oswego education to a new generation of broadcasters, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

Roker gave part of his gift to name the media summit in honor of Dr. Lewis B. “Doc” O’Donnell, professor emeritus of communication studies.

“Two things made my Oswego experience awesome, and gave me a foundation for my successful career in broadcasting. First and foremost was Doc O’Donnell’s encouragement and expertise, and second was the fact that as a freshman at Oswego, I was working in the campus television studio, while my friends at big private universities never touched a piece of equipment until later in their college careers,” said Roker. “I’m proud to support the media summit in Doc’s name and the television studio in the new Campus Center, so future students can have the advantages I did.”

The media summit, held each October on the Oswego campus, was founded by Louis A. Borrelli Jr., a 1977 graduate of Oswego and chief executive officer of NEP Broadcasting.

“Doc O’Donnell gave me not only the knowledge but the confidence I needed to make it in the competitive world of media and communications,” Borrelli said. “Thanks to Al’s generous gift, we have a wonderful way to recognize Doc’s career of 26 years at Oswego and his influence on so many of us!”

The annual summit brings some of the top names in the fields of broadcasting and media to the college for a day of small group sessions, culminating in a panel discussion on a major topic. This year’s summit, slated for Oct. 17, will focus on new media.

Doc O'DonnellO’Donnell (left) joined the SUNY Oswego staff in 1962 to set up a television studio to support instruction. He soon began teaching courses in television production and eventually became chair of the communication studies department.

“Doc O’Donnell’s work launched careers and laid the foundation that inspired people like Lou Borrelli and Al Roker to give back in a substantial way to this college,” Stanley said.

As weatherman and a host of NBC’s “Today” show, Roker is a 10-time Emmy Award winner.

He began his broadcasting career while still in college as a weekend weatherman at WTVH-TV in Syracuse. After graduation, he moved on to weather-casting jobs in Washington, D.C., and Cleveland, Ohio, before becoming the weekend weathercaster at WNBC in New York in 1983. 

Roker’s gift is part of Inspiring Horizons: The Campaign for Oswego, which currently stands at $19.7 million toward a goal of $23 million for capital projects, endowment and the annual Fund for Oswego.

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(Posted: Jun 21, 2007)