As someone born with significant hearing loss, Michael Mazzaroppi G’14 says it was inevitable that he would become an advocate for others with disabilities. After working abroad at a school for the Deaf and an agency for the Deaf, and…
Giving Back and Creating Opportunities: Gifting Textbooks for First-Generation Students
For Shelly Lotman Fisher ’80, a Syracuse University education came with lots of textbooks…and a whole lot more. “I loved every minute of my time there. I grew both educationally and as a person,” she explains. “It really helped give me the confidence to do all the things I’ve done in my life.”
Now, the Newhouse School alumna, entrepreneur and philanthropist is creating a funding mechanism so that today’s students can have the experiences she had—without worrying about paying for all those textbooks. Launching in the Fall 2020 semester, the Herbert Lotman Book Award, named for Fisher’s father, will support textbook expenses for selected first-generation undergraduate students.
“I was the first from my father’s side of the family to go to college,” Fisher says. “But from the time I was little, my parents emphasized the importance of education. With money he made in business, my father continued to support his old high school that was teetering on the brink. With this gift in his name, I am not only honoring my father’s memory, but living our family philosophy by supporting education. Education is something no one can ever take away from you. You have it always.”
Fisher laughs when she recalls her father’s very abbreviated “college experience” at a school in Philadelphia. He was working—driving a truck to afford to live and go to school. In class, he was so tired that he fell asleep. The teacher threw an eraser at him to wake him up, and he never went back. But Herb Lotman went on to have an incredibly successful business career in the wholesale beef business, developing a mass production system for the manufacture of frozen hamburgers and building a global business from scratch. When he retired, he devoted his life to charitable causes. And for the totality of his giving and success, the man without a college degree was awarded honorary doctorates by two colleges.
“My dad had a passion for mentoring and for community,” says Fisher, who clearly inherited her parents’ sense of purpose. “When we are on this Earth, we should try to do good things. And if we have financial opportunities, we should give back to our communities. We should pay it forward and teach others to do the same.”
Fisher has served Syracuse University in many ways, including as a member of the Board of Trustees and the Newhouse Advisory Board. She also founded Pay It Forward Group LLC, the parent company for I Help Educate and Positivities.com, both of which support students and initiatives that make positive contributions to communities. She recently created Girls Nite In Online to connect women virtually through donation-based, 30-minute online workout classes and workshops led by women whose workspaces have closed due to COVID-19. It’s a free service with the sole intention of connecting women and empowering displaced female workers.
Now, the family philosophy is a legacy that will benefit countless students at Syracuse University through the Herbert Lotman Book Award. Part of the Forever Orange Campaign, the Fisher gift will help a new generation understand that with opportunity comes responsibility.
About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university that advances knowledge across disciplines to drive breakthrough discoveries and breakout leadership. Our collection of 13 schools and colleges with over 200 customizable majors close the gap between education and action, so students can take on the world. In and beyond the classroom, we connect people, perspectives and practices to solve interconnected challenges with interdisciplinary approaches. Together, we’re a powerful community that moves ideas, individuals and impact beyond what’s possible.
About Forever Orange
Orange isn’t just our color. It’s our promise to leave the world better than we found it. Forever Orange: The Campaign for Syracuse University is poised to do just that. Fueled by 150 years of fearless firsts, together we can enhance academic excellence, transform the student experience and expand unique opportunities for learning and growth. Forever Orange endeavors to raise $1.5 billion in philanthropic support, inspire 125,000 individual donors to participate in the campaign, and actively engage one in five alumni in the life of the University. Now is the time to show the world what Orange can do. Visit syracuse.edu/foreverorange to learn more.