Campaign Giving Celebrates 40 Years of SUMA

Roxi and Donovan McNabb on stage at Forever Orange Campaign Event

For 40 years, Syracuse University’s Office of Multicultural Advancement (SUMA) has worked to engage the University’s diverse alumni through social and networking activities, career development and fundraising to support current and future students through the Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholarship Campaign. 

Presently, alumni supporting OTHC are also supporting the Syracuse University’s Forever Orange Campaign, a multi-year effort launched in 2019 to raise a historic $1.5 billion to change the trajectory of students’ lives and careers and to advance faculty research and innovation to benefit the whole world.

To help meet that goal, SUMA was asked to raise $5 million to increase the OTHC endowment. Now at the $11 million mark, the goal is to increase participation—both in giving level and in new donors.

“I truly believe that there’s something that each of us can do to make Syracuse University better for the next generation,” says Rachel Vassel ’91, G’21. “In honor of our anniversary, we’re asking everyone to do a little bit more, whether that’s a larger gift than usual or a first-time gift. We want this year to be our best fundraising year ever to further our mission of supporting students and alumni of color.”

SUMA has celebrated its 40th anniversary at events throughout 2022. Multicultural Salon events were hosted in October at the homes of Ada Agrait ’94 in Seattle and Roland Williams ’97 in Los Angeles, allowing alumni from the west coast to mingle in a relaxed, social setting while getting updates on the Forever Orange and SUMA 40th campaigns.

Agrait, a native of Puerto Rico, is senior vice president and global head of corporate marketing for SAP Software Solutions and has endowed the Ada Agrait Our Time Has Come Scholarship. Williams, a standout football player at Syracuse and in the NFL, has enjoyed success as a sports analyst for ESPN, NBC and CBS, as an international teambuilding and performance expert, and as president and co-founder of J2 Medical Supply. He gave the lead $100,000 gift to create the Orange Legends Scholarship, which received additional funding from Juli and Jim Boeheim ’66, G’73 and basketball legend Sherman Douglas ’89.

“We are grateful to Ada and Roland for their generosity in opening their homes to fellow alumni and for their support of OTHC,” says Janey Ozoria, director of development in the Office of Multicultural Advancement.

These salon events—and the alumni they attract—are the direct result of SUMA’s 40 years of alumni engagement. “We hear repeatedly how SUMA has impacted alumni and students through events that keep our community connected and scholarship support that provides opportunity,” adds Vassel. “In recognition of those efforts, we are asking all who appreciate our work to donate $40, $400 or $4,000 in our 40th year.”

Additionally, Forever Orange campaign events were held in Los Angeles in March at NeueHouse Hollywood, in New York City in June at Cipriani, in San Francisco in October at the Computer History Museum, and in Atlanta on Dec. 1 at the Stave Room.

“These regional events provided the opportunity for our alumni across the country to hear directly from Chancellor Kent Syverud and Provost Gretchen Ritter about their bold vision for Syracuse University’s future, and to recognize campaign donors in each area,” says Ozoria.