Fifty-plus years of friendship plant seeds of success for new generation
Fifty-plus years of friendship plant seeds of success for new generation April 16, 2008Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
When Harry Wise, William Marcus and Sam Gorovitz entered high school 50-plus years ago, Harry S Truman was president of the United States and the Boston Red Sox had not won a World Series in 32 years. Against that backdrop, the three teenagers, who grew up within blocks of each other in Brookline, Mass., began an enduring friendship that would lead to the new Wise-Marcus 50-Year Friendship Fund at Syracuse University. This endowment supports student research for Honors Capstone Projects in the Renee Crown University Honors Program, administered by SU’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The idea for the fund arose when Wise, CEO of Wise Executive Coaching, learned Gorovitz had agreed to become the founding director of the re-envisioned Renee Crown University Honors Program. Wise volunteered to support what Gorovitz considered the most pressing need in the new program — helping students with their Capstone Projects. A few weeks later, Gorovitz received a call from Marcus, executive vice president, treasurer and director of American Biltrite Inc. in Boston. “I hear I’m supposed to send you a bunch of money,” Marcus quipped. Although neither Wise nor Marcus had connections with SU, they were impressed by the level of achievement, creativity and imagination exhibited by students in the program.
“I’ve known Sam since before we were old enough to drink and vote,” Marcus says. “When he tells you something, there is some seriously great thought behind it. I supported the program because it takes good students and gives them an opportunity for an even better education.”
Wise-Marcus Friendship Fund scholarships are awarded annually. The 2007 Wise-Marcus Scholar was Sarah Rebar, a senior illustration major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The scholarship enabled her to travel to Pixar Animation Studios in California to meet with animators, storyboard artists and illustrators as part of her research into producing an animated claymation video for her Capstone Project. “One of the highlights of my trip was talking to storyboard artists and learning that 90 percent of the work they do winds up in the trash,” Rebar says. “They were encouraging and offered advice about how to practice my craft and what to include in a portfolio. I even got to meet the texture artist who created Sulley’s hair in `Monsters Inc.’ Everyone was extremely helpful.”
The 2008 Wise-Marcus Scholar is Danielle Houghton, a junior dual biology major in The College of Arts and Sciences and television, radio and film major in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. This summer, she will film Stephen Maheux, a junior biology major, as he conducts field research on invasive plants in the Adirondack Mountains. Houghton’s goal is to produce a “NOVA”-type documentary on Maheux’s research. The Wise-Marcus funds will cover her travel expenses, film equipment and production costs.
“The Honors Program is a new project, and our closest friend is doing it,” Wise says. “The fund is a way we could contribute to work students are doing that is really outside the box, such as enabling Sarah to fly to California to learn from people she otherwise would not be able to meet. The fund provides a relatively small amount of money that makes a relatively large difference. It creates the possibility for worthy students to do some interesting things that will make their Honors Capstone Project possible or more excellent.”
A former captain in the U.S. Air Force, Wise has held positions as head of HW Associates, executive vice president of American Capital Partners, portfolio manager for Citibank, and a consultant with McKinsey and Co. He is also an accomplished jazz pianist and a certified jazz educator. He earned a master’s degree in business administration at Harvard University, where he had been an undergraduate, and he earned a master’s degree in organizational psychology and leadership at Columbia University. He and his wife, Sheila, reside in New York City.
A graduate of Babson Institute (renamed Babson College in 1969), Marcus has been active in many nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. He is a director of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and has served as chairman of the Annual Campaign. He is a board member of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and has been president of and served on the board of the New England Chapter of the American Technion Society.