The number 1,008,612,731 flashed on the screen in front of the curious crowd at the “It” campaign event Thursday afternoon.
For weeks, the Syracuse University campus has been guessing the true meaning behind the ambiguous campaign seen on the walls of the Schine Student Center or on sidewalks along University Place.
“I have no idea what it is,” said communication design freshman Regina Pardi before the event. “I am really curious.”
Students, faculty and alumni alike hung on the words of Student Association President Dylan Lustig as he opened the “It” campaign reveal.
“SU is a truly special place that thrives on giving us the opportunity to succeed,” Lustig said. “’It’ has helped students like me.”
‘It’ can offer tremendous change, possibility and opportunity to SU, he said.
The meaning behind the ‘What is it?’ signs on campus remained a mystery until Dylan Lustig revealed the success behind the billion-dollar campaign.
Syracuse University set a fundraising goal of $1 billion by the end of this year. With the help of friends, alumni, students, faculty and fans, the university was able to reach that goal three months ahead of time with $1,008,612,731 raised as of Aug. 31.
“Look at what we can accomplish together,” said Deryck Palmer, an SU Trustee and Chairman of the “It” campaign.
The money raised through this campaign is going to impact many aspects of the SU community. $177 million will be allocated to increase the number of scholarships and fellowships available, according to a Sept. 13 press release. $160 million will be given to provide more resources to the faculty through state-of-the-art facilities, additional academic options including a focus on expanding the number of professors.
SU has made a twofold increase, 48 to 99, in the number of endowed professor positions, said Don Mitchell, a distinguished professor of geography.
These funds will spur growth and research at the university that is relevant both locally and globally, he said.
Chelsea Damburg, a 2012 alumna, spoke to the crowd next about her post-graduate life in New York City.
“SU made opening doors into professional life easy,” said Damburg, who dual-majored in broadcast and digital journalism and policy studies. With 46,000 alumni in NYC alone, real world experiences and connections are available, she said.
“SU helped me reach my dream of a NYC career,” Damburg said. Damburg has even met fellow SU alumni on the streets of NYC.
This deep alumni connection between NYC and SU inspired the creation of a new university center located in within the city.
Separate from the Lubin House, the Fisher Center will expand the NYC experience for SU students from all disciplines, Damburg said.
The donor and founder of the Fischer Center, Winston Fischer, a 1996 SU alumni, called the center an opportunity to “test learning in the real world.”
“I am continually impressed at SU grads,” Fisher said. The center will be a hands-on introduction into the workplace with valuable networking opportunities with alumni in the area.
Permanent space is still being acquired for the center. Similar to the SU program in Los Angeles, the Fisher Center will provide opportunities for students to gain real-world experience and the best possible networking connections for the future.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” said broadcast and digital journalism sophomore Sara Berlinger. “NYC is a huge market to get real world experience.”
The strength of SU is when students leave the campus, and give back, Fisher said.
“If we stick together, help each other out, and continue to work hard, nothing can stop us, “he said. “We can do anything, we’re SU grads.”
One thousand five hundred members of the SU staff and hundreds of students donated to the billion-dollar campaign, Palmer said. During the campaign there were 191 donations of $1 million or more, 33 of those being over $5 million, according to the release.
“Without us and without all of you it wouldn’t have been possible,” Palmer said. ‘It’ is the students, faculty, parents and alumni who bleed orange, he said. “’It’ encompasses us all.”