Today is July 1, 2014. An ordinary day for most but slightly less ordinary for me. Today is the day that I start my 10th year as President of the Syracuse University Northern New Jersey Alumni Club. What started out as a 3 year term is evolving into what my board refers to as a “President for life” sentence. I often wonder if I’m a victim of my own success or guilty of not following the first rule of presiding over this type of organization – make sure the first thing you do is find the next person to be President.
I never set out to be “Mr. Syracuse” to my friends, neighbors and fellow SU alums. All I really wanted were good seats for SU basketball games. On my way to front row seats at The Garden, my alma mater took over a big chunk of my life.
If anyone doesn’t know, I graduated from SU in 1982, Linda in 1983, Allie graduated in 2011 and Zach graduated this past May.
SU ’82, proud grandma, SU ’11, SU 83, SU ’14.
My life as an active alum started 11 or 12 years ago when I joined the SUNNJAC board. In the fall of 2004, in the middle of his 3rd year as President, Brian Spector asked Linda and me to have lunch with him. It was there that he sprang his master plan upon us. He was moving up to the national alumni board and wanted me to take over as club president. Despite my pleas that I wanted no part of it, I was voted in by a 2 to 1 vote, with Linda and Brian voting in favor, and….well you can figure out how I voted. So, on July 1, 2005, the benign dictator assumed his role.
A few months before taking office, I attended my first meeting as President elect at Lubin House in NYC and met with other NY/NJ area alumni leaders. My first question was “how do I get really good seats for basketball games?” It didn’t take long for me to realize that being an SU alumni club president was not that high up on the Orange food chain and that I was pretty much on my own for basketball tickets. Eventually I realized I was pretty much on my own period so I (along with Brian and the rest of the SUNNJAC board) decided to go our own merry way. Part of the reason why I’m now in my 10th year as president is by-laws, or lack thereof. Here in North Jersey, we don’t need no stinking by-laws.
A year or two into the reign of terror, I became close with a few other club presidents who thought much like I did, and so was born the “axis of evil” (SU alumni style). The NY to Philly alumni corridor and the 4 of us that ran the show – with major shout outs to Karen Auuuuuuu, Pam Mulligan and Andy Laver – became a model of cooperation (not to mention rearranging the seating at president weekend meetings).
3rd year in and I was not only an alum, I was an SU dad as Allie started her 4 years in OrangeLand. One of my all time favorite dad moments was Thursday night of club presidents weekend. Making my way to Faegens, I walked past all the scantily dressed young (and underage) coeds standing in line to get into Maggie’s when I recognized a few of Allie’s friends. Than came those magic words, “Hi daddy!” Allie, I know you will read this and you know that I love you but why oh why have you always been so in love with your cleavage? Oh well, my mother would be proud.
3 years later, I’m still president and now I have 2 at SU as Zach joins the Orange Clan. Now I start thinking, I’ll stay president until 2014 when Zach graduates. That would be a good time to hand over the reins. But have I done that? Nooooooo, I’m still here.
But who am I kidding. It’s been a fun ride. In my role as an alumni club leader, I have met so many great people and made so many friends. If you had told me 10 years ago that a young couple from SU would invite us to their wedding, I would have laughed at you. But last Memorial Day Weekend, there we were at Holiday Valley Resort in Western NY attending the nuptials of Julie Walas and Binh Hunh, who have also joined us for graduation dinners in ’11 and ’14, and whom we make sure to spend time with whenever we are at SU.
And there are so many more people who have become a part of our extended Orange family. JoGo, Ste. Colleen, everyone at alumni relations, the wonderful folks at Falk and Engineering who helped us so much in our moment of need, Bridget who danced when she heard Allie got a job in LA and put her picture from the Hollywood Reporter on the door of her office, my friends in the Dome Box Office (love you guys!) and in the athletic department, all my fellow alumni leaders who put up with my ranting and raving once a year in person and more often via emails, and the list goes on and on and on.
Of course there’s the SUNNJAC board and our members. Thank you for the notes of support and becoming part of the North Jersey OrangeNation. And my little Orange family – Linda, Allie, Zach, Cosmo (so sad about your name sake) and Shay, the only Syracuse native in our crew.
Now someone get Jim Boeheim on the line so we can can figure out how we are going to win our next national championship with me sitting courtside!