Susquehanna Gives Rise

By Logan Sweet
Fall Winter 2021 Issue

Give rise. That’s the call to action that President Jonathan Green made when he introduced the public phase of Give Rise: The Campaign to Elevate Susquehanna University to hundreds of alumni, faculty, staff and supporters who had gathered in the James W. Garrett Sports Complex Field House last October to mark the momentous occasion.

“Susquehanna is poised to rise to a new level of leadership in higher education by fortifying support for our students, enhancing our campus and augmenting our resources for programmatic and faculty development,” Green says. “Our graduates are prepared to lead because they have learned how to learn, to listen and to act wisely. For them, and for those who will follow, we must achieve a campaign unprecedented in our history.”

The Give Rise campaign — with a goal of raising $160 million for student scholarships, capital improvements and endowment contributions — is the largest such fundraising initiative in Susquehanna’s history of over 160 years.

The campaign’s student-first funding priorities are anchored by the university’s foundation as a private liberal arts institution.

Experiential learning has become a more recent focus of contemporary higher education, but Susquehanna has always fostered the power of combining its liberal arts focus with practical application. Our community challenges students to think about the world in ways they’ve possibly never considered — to shift their perspective, question conventions and make connections. It encourages them to realize that perhaps science is related to art, and math has much to say about music, that history informs business, and journalism and social justice can walk hand in hand.

Faculty members immerse students in project-based learning, undergraduate research and intercultural experiences that inspire them to connect classroom learning to the real world around them. Support for these extraordinary opportunities gives rise to an even richer university experience for every student. With this foundation, Susquehanna prepares them to become critical thinkers, thoughtful leaders and global citizens.

“The liberal arts have always been about giving students the tools they need and instilling in them the confidence to be successful,” Green says. “The generosity and vision of our donors to this campaign will allow us to lift up the next generation of thoughtful innovators and compassionate leaders, a strength that has persisted since our founding.”

GIVE RISE to SU Students

Susquehanna students are successful students.

Susquehanna aims not only to ensure that our students are successful once they are on campus, but more so that a Susquehanna education is accessible to every single deserving student who wants to be a member of the community — opening the door for more young minds to be guided by professors and giving rise to their individual potential.

“When I came to Susquehanna, I felt an immediate sense of belonging and community,” says Hannah Mackey ’23, a creative writing and publishing and editing double major. “All my worries about what I would do with my future disappeared.” The university attracts capable young people from all walks of life who recognize the value of the education SU offers. Susquehanna provides scholarship support and f inancial aid to 99% of them, making it possible to deliver educational opportunities to the best and most talented students regardless of their or their families’ financial circumstances.

“I can’t name another institution who made an investment in me the way Susquehanna did,” says Gerohn Lanns ’04, a partner at Ernst & Young and member of the university’s Board of Trustees.

Thanks to the Richard Green Memorial Scholarship, a resident advisor position and summer jobs, Gerohn was able to graduate from SU debt-free. His two sisters, Marhja ’03 and Cherysse ’06, also attended and received scholarship support.

The source of student support isn’t singular, however. Generous alumni and friends also help students afford learning experiences such as study abroad, internships and research opportunities, and their philanthropy guarantees Susquehanna’s ability to enroll students of great potential — who bring with them a wide range of life experiences and social and cultural backgrounds. 

The New York Times ranked Susquehanna as having the 9th most economically diverse student body in the nation. According to Green, “Susquehanna is not an institution of students born on third base, it is a living and learning community representing the breadth of socioeconomic backgrounds and experiences.”

“The message I took from my scholarship was, ‘We believe in you and your abilities,’” says Daniel Yim ’20. “The Jack E. Cisney Scholarship started a domino effect that allowed me to take part in many opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise, and to grow as a student and businessman.”

Yim spent a semester in Japan, traveled to Stanford University as an Innovation Fellow and later received assistance from the Sigmund Weis School of Business’s Eric Stein Fund for International Experience to pursue a marketing and operations internship with Doongle, Inc. in Seoul, South Korea.

Through Give Rise, alumni and friends can create new scholarships — or contribute to existing ones — that will provide tuition and expenses for our most deserving students.

GIVE RISE to SU’s Campus

Exceptional students thrive on our exceptional campus.

Susquehanna’s sweeping lawns and stately buildings reflect the university’s sense of history. At the same time, each new building project we take on gives rise to a better student experience.

The university’s Admission House, dedicated in 2017, provided the starting point for a new wave of campus enhancements. Recent improvements to athletics facilities and the library, the addition of the Center for Environmental Education and Research and the Martin Retreat Center, and a renovated Isaacs Auditorium in Seibert Hall have been key advancements, but the work is never finished. Gifts to brick-and-mortar projects for academics and student life improve Susquehanna’s ability to attract more students, while enriching the offerings for those currently living and learning on SU’s beautiful, broad campus.

One of those students was David Huntzberry ’19, an ecology major, who took full advantage of everything the CEER had to offer. As a student assistant with the Freshwater Research Institute, he conducted research to assess the health of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries. As co-director of the campus garden, he led efforts to harvest thousands of pounds of produce for donation to local shelters and food banks.

“The information and the skills I gained there are far beyond what someone at another university could have done,” says Huntzberry, who is now a restoration ecologist for Tributaries, LLC. “And that’s exactly the point of the CEER,” says Katherine Straub, interim dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences, “to make sustainability tangible for students and help them become tomorrow’s ecologists and environmental scientists.

“They can do something that is real that makes them think, ‘I am helping to solve an environmental problem, even if it’s just one piece of the puzzle.’ That’s powerful,” she adds.

The Give Rise campaign will make possible our vision of a designated “green” extension of campus, that could include more laboratories, new pathways, outdoor classrooms and learning spaces, sustainable student housing and an event center. Apfelbaum Hall, the Degenstein Campus Center and the Garrett Sports Complex — all signature spaces made possible by philanthropy — now require updates to support today’s living and learning experiences. Support from alumni and friends to these planned and existing areas of campus will foster the beauty of Susquehanna for generations to come, while also strengthening community pride and ongoing stewardship.

GIVE RISE to SU Success

To elevate Susquehanna University for generations to come, its endowment must grow.

Endowed funds ensure perpetual support for educational priorities and strengthen an unwavering commitment to the institutional mission — to educate students for productive, creative and reflective lives of achievement, leadership and service in a diverse, dynamic and interdependent world.

Through the Give Rise campaign, Susquehanna’s endowment has increased from $162 million to over $200 million — achieving a key campaign goal. Now, having reached $206 million, the university’s endowment allows for more dollars to be spent per student, which will have a positive impact on our national rankings and provide longterm resources that directly benefit future Susquehannans.

For students, endowed programs such as the McGrath Scholars and the Signe S. Gates and Dawn G. Mueller Women’s Leadership Fund empower them to take advantage of out-of-classroom experiences they otherwise could not afford on their own.

Anna Mykytyn ’20, a biochemistry and French double major, came to Susquehanna with an interest in cancer research, but never expected to work with real cancer cells until at least her senior year or even graduate school. Pavithra Vivekanand, associate professor of biology, encouraged her to apply for the McGrath Scholars Program to fund their summer research project on a plant-based compound called thujone, which has insecticidal properties and is thought to have anti-cancer effects as well. The program exists thanks to an endowment created by alumni, friends and colleagues of Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Tom McGrath.

“Because of this scholarship, I was able to gain invaluable lab experience, as well as investigate and solidify my career interests,” says Mykytyn, who also completed a summer undergraduate research fellowship at the Mayo Clinic and is pursuing a doctorate in cancer biology.

“Our students are collaborators in our [faculty] research and get their names on papers we produce,” says Vivekanand. “This teaches them perseverance and problem-solving because science never works in a linear fashion. These skills set SU students apart from graduates of other universities.”

In addition to creating endowed scholarships, Give Rise seeks gifts of endowment to support faculty positions and student programs. When alumni and friends make endowment gifts, they create or contribute to a permanent pool of funds that can be invested over the long term to support the areas of campus most meaningful to them — forever. For faculty members, endowed positions are incredibly valuable because they allow them to think big and dream big, pursuing their passions without limitation.

Simply put, a stronger endowment will give Susquehanna the flexibility to pursue its vision of excellence, and it will create a solid foundation of support to carry out its mission for generations of future Susquehannans.

GIVE RISE to SU’S Future

Support for this landmark campaign will give rise to new opportunities at Susquehanna that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. It will elevate every area of the university and ensure that SU is known for the extraordinary education and transformational experience provided to its students.

Thee campaign has been privately gaining momentum since 2012, and to date it has raised 88% of its goal despite challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic that delayed the campaign’s public announcement by a year.

“We are deeply grateful for the overwhelming support our donors have shown the Give Rise campaign to this point,” say Dawn Grigg ’68 Mueller and Martin Pinter ’98, members of Susquehanna’s Board of Trustees and co-chairs of the campaign committee.

“Through our own experiences, we know very well what Susquehanna does for young people,” they add. “Today’s world is more connected yet more complex than ever, and it needs new generations of professionals who know themselves and can think creatively and analytically.”

“With your support, we will continue to fulfill Susquehanna’s extraordinary promise to become an even stronger model of thoughtful, relevant and effective education,” Green adds.

“Now is the time for all of us to give rise to an even greater Susquehanna University.”

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