Shortly after Robert “Robbie” Robinson became the University’s chief of public safety in October 1993, he had a “chance encounter” with James K. Duah-Agyeman, who was then the director of the Center for Academic Achievement in the Division of Student…
Investing in the Bedrock of Discovery: New Endowed Professorship in Quantum Science
Kathy Walters ’73 and her husband, Stan ’72, can look back over 50 years and easily track the impact Syracuse University had on their lives, but their newest gift to their alma mater looks far into the future, for generations to come. “We are investing in the people who do the research that will lead to discoveries that make our world a better place, even decades from now,” says Walters. “Great professors are generation-creators. They impact students and society over decades, even beyond their own lifetimes.”
The new gift establishes the Kathy and Stan Walters Endowed Professorship for Quantum Science, creating a new faculty position in the physics department of the College of Arts and Sciences, and promoting research and teaching in quantum science. Because the gift is part of the Forever Orange Faculty Excellence Program, the University amplifies the power of their philanthropy.
The $2.25 million investment will help the University recruit and retain the most creative and innovative faculty. “We’re depending on universities to be the bedrock of discovery,” says Walters, chair of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees. “That requires faculty who can think uniquely and do meaningful research that can pave the way to a better future for us all.”
“Kathy and Stan have been exceedingly generous over the years, always focusing their gifts on initiatives that will enhance academic excellence and the student experience,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “An endowed professorship directly impacts our ability to attract the most talented scholars, researchers and teachers and opens up more opportunities for scholarship and research among faculty and students.”
Walters, who graduated with a B.S. in mathematics and went on to the Wharton School for an MBA, says she was schooled as an economist, trained to appreciate both the short-term and long-term impacts of consumer behavior, along with business and financial decisions. “The study of mathematics was where I came to understand that if you could frame out how to think about something in a very broad way, you could start to discover new concepts,” says Walters. That’s why, a few years ago, the Walters provided a $1 million gift to support a think tank called the X Lab at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the research of Len Lopoo, Paul Volcker Chair in Behavioral Economics and professor of public administration and international affairs.
The students in the X Lab learn how to use data and behavioral science to shape human behavior and solve societal problems, helping governments and nonprofits operate more efficiently and improve service delivery.
“Kathy and Stan’s support for Maxwell and their critical investment in the Maxwell X Lab have been an absolute game changer for the study of behavioral economics at SU and being able to work with public sector agencies and nonprofit organizations that would not be able to afford the type of research and program evaluation that can improve their mission and operational effectiveness,” says Maxwell Dean David M. Van Slyke. This work is bringing national recognition to Syracuse University and its faculty. “This is exactly what Kathy told me she wanted—philanthropic support, which would support academic excellence and experiential learning that would not only benefit Maxwell, but Syracuse University as well.”
The newest gift of an endowed professorship in quantum science is intended to do the same.
“The Walters’ gift will help us recruit more world class researchers and teachers who inspire our students to ask the big questions and seek solutions to life’s biggest problems,” says Jennifer Ross, chair and professor of physics. “The impact of great faculty is immeasurable in the life trajectory of inquisitive students.”
Duncan Brown, Charles Brightman Professor of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, whose own research in gravitational wave astronomy is recognized internationally, believes that investments in faculty excellence will help the University build upon its R1 status and become a premier research university, among the finest in the nation. “If you are a student coming to Syracuse University, you know you’ll be able to work with professors doing world-changing fundamental research and discovery.”
“Young people who have a chance to do research, to test theories and start to build them out—these are the people we need 10 to 20 years before something happens that redefines how we do things,” says Walters.
Brown points out that the field of quantum science has its roots in academic research in the early 1900s. “The technologies required to make an iPhone work, from the screen to the chip inside, are based on rules that were written down 100 years ago by people who had no conception that a device like this could exist. Gifts like this one from the Walters target areas that can revolutionize society.”
Though Kathy Walters is now retired after a long career in business and Stan Walters is now retired after a long career in professional football, both remain fully engaged in helping Syracuse University students pursue their dreams and build new futures for themselves and the world around them.
“Every gift ultimately contributes to the student experience and to the development of future citizens,” says Walters. “To invest in the bedrock of discovery is to desire to make a better world.”
About Syracuse University
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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.