Every dollar matters. That’s the message behind the Whitman Dean’s Fund, a collective effort that directs donations of any amount — large or small — to support priorities within the Whitman community.
“Of course, we are always grateful for large donations, but most of what supports our efforts at the Whitman School are smaller gifts that truly add up,” says Christopher Crooker, assistant dean for institutional advancement. “Gifts directed to the Dean’s Fund make a difference and are part of a collective action to allow the School to prioritize where and how to best make our investments.”
“Gifts directed to the Dean’s Fund make a difference and are part of a collective action to allow the School to prioritize where and how to best make our investments.”
— Christopher Crooker, assistant dean for institutional advancement
In 2022, the Dean’s Fund received approximately $1.25 million from approximately 1,300 people who gave directly to the fund or specifically to the Whitman School with no further designation.
Two primary areas sustained by the Dean’s Fund are curriculum innovation and student support. Whitman created a Curriculum and Teaching Innovation grant program, supported through the Dean’s Fund. Over the last few years, this program has led to the creation of 20 new courses, student events or other learning experiences that stemmed from faculty members’ expertise. These include the creation of the new undergraduate business analytics major; short-term immersion courses in Asia and Africa; the creation of six courses related to job-ready topics like blockchain, fintech and alternative investments; and the revamping of course materials to assist students with ADHD.
Undergraduate students pose for a photo during the new Business Analytics in the Big Apple career exploration trip to New York City in March 2023.
Assistant Teaching Professor Elizabeth Wimer received one such grant to create a pilot trip in 2022, taking 14 students from her SOM 354 Managing in a Global Setting course to Kenya to experience emerging markets in that part of the world. The funds offset travel expenses and made it possible to host a welcome dinner and networking opportunity for local entrepreneurs, business owners and students. The pilot was a success and recently became an annual event for students to apply the lessons learned in class to real-world innovation and global business practices.
Whitman also utilizes the Dean’s Fund for a variety of student support that falls outside of traditional financial aid. This includes the Dean’s Inclusive Excellence Scholarship Fund, which offered approximately $200,000 in 2021-22 to support students with demonstrated commitment to community service, diversity and fostering equity and inclusion.
“The Whitman School’s unwavering support for students like me is a testament to so many people’s commitment to excellence and a dedication to removing barriers that might otherwise have hindered my success.”
— Laurenne Yomi Mvete ’25
“I am deeply grateful for the generous scholarship offered to me,” says Laurenne Yomi Mvete ’25. “The Whitman School’s unwavering support for students like me is a testament to so many people’s commitment to excellence and a dedication to removing barriers that might otherwise have hindered my success. This has given me the opportunity to pursue my dreams with the confidence that comes from knowing that I have the backing of such a remarkable institution.”
Other areas supported by the Dean’s Fund allow students to participate in experiential learning programs, including those in New York City and globally, that they would not otherwise be able to afford. And Whitman created a Student Emergency Fund to support those who find themselves in dire need — family crises, health issues, unexpected financial hardships — that might otherwise prevent them from completing their Whitman education when financial aid cannot assist.
All of this is made possible through gifts from alumni, families, friends of the University and other supporters who are happy to allow the School the flexibility to use the funds at the dean’s discretion.
“As the saying goes, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats,’” says donor Ashley Keyes ’14, who works in supply chain on the West Coast. “That’s how I was raised — to help others who come after me. My degree and the connections I have made through Syracuse University and Whitman have opened a lot of doors. I enjoy utilizing resources at my disposal to give back, especially to the institution that has helped propel me forward in my career.”
Crooker says, “Gifts to the Dean’s Fund add up to the kind of continued support that allows us to remain agile and responsive in a world of accelerating change. Every dollar truly does matter to so many in the Whitman community.”