Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems has awarded grants to four New York State companies through its Innovation Fund. Since 2014, the SyracuseCoE Innovation Fund has helped companies overcome barriers to the commercialization of potentially transformative products…
Mowers Endow Newhouse Professorship of Persuasive Communications
Eric Mower ’66, G’68 can still name individual professors he had more than 60 years ago as a student at Syracuse University. “I have indelible memories of professors who thrilled me,” says Mower. Interestingly, the most memorable ones for him taught subject areas across disciplines—religion in literature, American political theory in constitutional law, philosophy through European history. “It’s not necessarily just what they taught, but also how they taught. I even remember the questions they posed!”
Fellow graduate and wife Judith C. “Judy” Mower ’66, G’73, G’80, G’84 shares his conviction that a great professor can make a profound difference in a student’s approach to learning. That belief drives their latest gift to the University.
“At the very heart of its academic value, Syracuse University continues to build upon the excellence of its faculty—excellence that is found, nurtured, developed and celebrated,” says Judy Mower. “As the University increasingly heightens its already impressive reputation in academia as a special place, there are no boundaries to what we can achieve as a learning community.”
In support of nurturing and growing faculty excellence, the Mowers have made a gift to establish the Mower Endowed Professorship of Persuasive Communications in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Their $1.3 million gift to create the professorship is enhanced by a $666,000 commitment by the University through the Forever Orange Faculty Excellence Program.
“Judy and I have always tried to match our interests with what the University needs,” says Eric Mower, in describing their approach to philanthropy. As generous supporters of academic programs, lectures, athletics and the libraries—among other programs—both were recognized recently with the dedication of the Mower Faculty Commons in Bird Library, a gathering space for faculty to come together to collaborate, work across disciplines, encourage creativity and innovation, and inspire scholarship and research.
Having spent his entire career in marketing and communications, Mower saw the need for a new kind of professorship to integrate the various fields of communications that encompass persuasive communications in the advertising department of the Newhouse School.
“Persuasive communications is the essence of successful advertising, brand-building and public relations programs,” says Mower, who earned a master’s degree in public relations from the Newhouse School. Persuasive communications involves a deep understanding of the “sender-receiver” relationship in creating credible, original, engaging and effective messages that convey the benefits of a product or the strength of an idea.
“My graduate degree is in public relations but two-thirds of my business is advertising,” says Mower. “And on any given day, the work we do at Mower embraces one or the other or both from client assignment to client assignment. My time as a student at Syracuse University and what I learned in sociology, economics, history, philosophy, literature, psychology and religion all provide food for thought and the problem-solving our work requires to make what we at Mower call ‘Fierce Friends’ on behalf of our clients.”
“A communications school must remain nimble and maintain strong professional connections in order to keep up with the quickly changing industry,” says Newhouse Dean Mark J. Lodato. “Alumni like Eric and Judy Mower represent this dynamic at its best. Their on-the-ground understanding of current issues, combined with their generous financial support, enhance our curriculum and faculty in ways that provide enormous benefits to our students.”
Persuasive communications has also driven the success of the Mower agency over the last 55 years as an integrated communications firm in a fast-evolving industry that uses all forms of communications to create “deep emotional connections between people and brands.”
As Mower describes it: “We view the work of our industry through the lens of persuasive communications where the business, the art and the science of marketing and communications intertwine and overlap.”
Today, Mower has senior-level staff located in 10 cities around the country, employing more than 150 people in a profession that is “forever revolving, evolving and involving.”
Mower keeps up with the changing world by perusing multiple newspapers every day (The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, plus various daily newsletters and trade journals) because they “provide the vital, raw material for the work we do that might enrich our messaging.” He expects the person who holds the Mower Endowed Professorship of Persuasive Communications to inspire that same kind of passionate curiosity and love of learning in Newhouse students, producing the kind of graduates that will be successful in the field he loves.
“When I interview someone who wants to join our company, I’m hoping to see someone with great curiosity about the world, a welcoming appreciation of human diversity, a desire to problem-solve as part of a thinking team in the pursuit of outstanding message programs. If they bring those things, then maybe they can be successful in helping a client evaluate their needs in whatever business category they may function and better understand their marketplace and their customers. Every school of communication ought to have a persuasive communications professorship that embraces all the moving parts of message creation and delivery and how they fit together,” Eric Mower says.
This newest gift through the Faculty Excellence Program adds to an extraordinary history of philanthropy and service to the University by both Eric and Judy Mower. From 1990-2006, Eric Mower served as a voting member of the Board of Trustees and is now a Life Trustee; he is a member of the Newhouse Advisory Board and a past member of the Whitman Advisory Council. Judy Mower was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2007 and became a Life Trustee in 2019. An organizational development consultant, Judy Mower is currently chair of the Libraries Advisory Board and has been an adjunct faculty member in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Judy and Eric met while students at Syracuse University and married in Hendricks Chapel.
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