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Syracuse Athletics Announces $150M Fundraising Initiative to Create Unsurpassed Student-Athlete Experience
Two years ago, Syracuse University launched Forever Orange: The Campaign for Syracuse University, a $1.5 billion fundraising campaign that recently exceeded $1.052 billion in funds raised. Capitalizing on that momentum, Syracuse University’s Department of Athletics today announced it will seek to raise an additional $150 million as part of the Forever Orange Campaign with one singular goal in mind—elevating the student-athlete experience.
“The Forever Orange campaign has been transformative for Syracuse University as a whole and we are so grateful for the donors, friends and alumni who have provided support,” says John Wildhack, director of athletics. “We recognize that creating a truly superior student-athlete experience demands a focused initiative that aligns academic and athletic aspirations. Philanthropy is critical to creating an environment in which student-athletes can thrive in their sport, in the classroom and in their careers. As a department, we are competing to attract the most talented student-athletes from around the nation and globe. Creating an unprecedented student-athlete experience will require equally unprecedented donor support for those who choose to wear Orange.”
As part of Syracuse Athletics’ fundraising initiative, Manley Field House, which has been the hub of activity and the center of student-athlete life for Syracuse University’s athletics for nearly 60 years, will be, over time, transformed into the John A. Lally Athletics Complex, a state-of-the-art academic and athletics village that will benefit all student-athletes. Named after alumnus and three-time football letterwinner John Lally ’82, he and his wife, Laura, made a $25 million gift commitment in 2019 to jumpstart work on the project, which will be entirely funded by private philanthropy.
“John and Laura have been incredible partners over the years,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “We are grateful for their loyal support of Syracuse University—as donors, as champions and as fans. This is a defining moment for Syracuse University Athletics. The launch of this transformational project advances our trajectory to further create and foster a world-class culture of academic and athletic excellence.”
The first phase of the multi-million, multi-year project will commence in spring 2022 with the construction of a new front entrance. As part of this initial work, the Student-Athlete Academic Support Program will have an expanded state-of-the-art area to meet student needs through private in-person meeting spaces for expanded tutorial appointments and academic advising, along with career and life skills programming. Available to all student-athletes, the expanded academic support facility will house private rooms for student-athletes to utilize for completing class assignments or studying between classes. Additionally, early work will include an enhanced multi-display Hall of Champions experience. The display will celebrate the accomplishments of Orange student-athletes in the classroom and on the field in real time, as well as recognize alumni successes. This area will also serve as a gathering and event space that can be used for special events, along with day-to-day activities and programming.
Wildhack notes the revitalized complex will benefit all student-athletes at Syracuse University, improve recruiting and increase retention.
“Thanks to John and Laura’s generosity and the philanthropic support of other donors, our student-athletes are receiving a holistic experience that positions them to achieve their aspirations, on and off the playing fields,” says Wildhack.
The Lallys began thinking about how they could make an enduring impact on the University after retiring a few years ago. “It started with a donation to resurface one of the practice fields and the vision grew from there. Teamed up with Chancellor Syverud, John Wildhack and Head Football Coach Dino Babers, Laura and I became more and more excited about ways to impact the experience for generations of student-athletes to come,” says John Lally, a graduate of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and an offensive guard for the Orange from 1977-82. “It was clear to us they had the chemistry to accomplish great things, and that motivated us to take on a bigger role. We have been exceedingly happy with that decision.”
Originally from Clarence, New York, Lally is the former president and owner of PCB Piezotronics Inc., headquartered in Depew, New York. Together, he and Laura are active philanthropists, having supported the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western New York, along with supporting many other charitable organizations. In addition to their 2019 gift to create the Lally Complex, the couple also established an endowed scholarship to be awarded annually to a student-athlete on the football team.
This is a crucial time to be involved with the University, Laura says. “We believe in the leadership and the vision for Syracuse University, that makes a huge difference to us knowing that the University is in such good hands.”
Babers says he is grateful to the Lallys for their leading gift that will hopefully inspire others. “John is an incredible alumnus and storied Syracuse football player and, with Laura, they are an incredible team to help us reach new heights as a football program,” Babers says. “With their support, our student-athletes are positioned to succeed to their fullest potential.”
The new Lally Complex will support the academic and athletic experience of the 600 student-athletes across all sports at Syracuse University. Additional enhancements to the facility will be announced as new philanthropy is secured. As part of the vision for the Lally Complex transformation, the Department of Athletics is considering enhancements that include the creation of a new Football Operations Center; a One Team Center, which will be utilized by all of Syracuse University’s Olympic sports teams; a student-athlete academic center to expand resources for academic support and professional and career development; updated dining and nutrition facilities; renovated locker rooms, medical training and strength and conditioning facilities; and modernized facades on the exterior of the complex.
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 closes 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: The Campaign for Syracuse University
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 foreverorange.syr.edu to learn more.