Orange Legacy: How Syracuse University Accounts for Three Generations of Rotenberg Family Success
I had a great experience at Syracuse. My mom, my wife, my daughter, my business partner and too many family members to count have been educated here and done their part to create a lasting Rotenberg family legacy. We are filled with Orange pride.
The Rotenberg legacy at Syracuse University started when Clare Rotenberg ’53 attended Syracuse at what is now the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. She was the first of three generations of Rotenbergs to attend the University, most finding their way to the Whitman School as accounting majors. The family’s enthusiasm for everything Orange has not diminished over the years; in fact, it’s only gotten stronger.
Clare’s son, Neal Rotenberg ’79 met his wife of 42 years, Sharon Singer ’79, in a managerial accounting class. Sharon went on to use her accounting skills in her family’s business, ShopRite supermarkets, where she worked as head of finance. Today, she continues to use accounting to help run an aviation business. Neal, whose father, Jerry, is an accountant, began his career at Arthur Young (now EY). In 1986, he and Larry Meril ’77 founded their own accounting firm, Rotenberg Meril Solomon Bertiger & Guttilla PC. After 35 successful years, the firm merged in 2022 with Marcum LLP, the No. 10 accounting firm in the country, to offer clients a greater degree of specialization. Currently, Neal is a managing partner of the Saddle Brook, New Jersey, office.
Along the way, Neal and Sharon’s daughter, Olivia Rotenberg ’14, ’15 M.S., decided to follow the family tradition at Syracuse University. At first, she wasn’t sure she’d pursue accounting—or even the Whitman School. But after becoming unsatisfied with her first major, she went to her father for advice.
“Just humor me, and take one accounting class,” he said to her. “If you hate it, I’ll never bother you about it again.” She reluctantly registered for Introduction to Accounting at the Whitman School. At first, she struggled, but then “something clicked.” Before long, Olivia was majoring in accounting (and finance), following in the footsteps of her parents.
Neal is a pilot, so he and Sharon visited Olivia on campus at least once a month, even holding study groups on accounting and finance with her friends. When Olivia went to London for a semester abroad, Neal visited at least twice a month, as one of his biggest clients was based there. “Admittedly, she gets a lot of attention,” says her proud father.
Olivia didn’t join her father’s firm after graduating. She wanted to work for the Big Four and forge her own path. Olivia started at EY and later went to work for BDO, where she met another accountant, Christopher Holt, whom she married in August. Today, she is an accounting manager at Castleton Commodities International.
“I always knew I wanted to go to Syracuse because my grandmother went there, my parents met there—aunts, uncles, cousins went—but it wasn’t until I finally came to Whitman that I truly fell in love with Syracuse University,” Olivia says. “It was, and continues to be, a lifeline of smart, accomplished people who have become colleagues and friends. To me, Syracuse University and the Whitman School do a great job of not only educating you but also bringing you into a community that you can stay in contact with forever.”
Other relatives also added to the University tradition, including Roy Rotenberg ’82, brother of Neal, who attended Whitman; his wife, Vanessa LaPorte-Rotenberg ’84, who studied dietetics management; and son, Connor ’19, a finance and marketing double major at Whitman. In addition, Sharon’s sister, Beth Singer ’77 (VPA), is a Syracuse University graduate.
Part of the Rotenberg legacy is remaining involved with the Whitman School, both financially and with time and talents. Olivia joined the Young Whitman Advisory Council in May and has participated on an accounting panel for the IMPRESS program and in a career training program in New York City as part of the Whitman Women in Finance career trip. Neal is a member of the Whitman Advisory Council and the Whitman Accounting Advisory Board.
“I’m extremely impressed with the caliber of today’s Whitman students, and I enjoy visiting campus to see how amazing and smart these kids are,” says Neal. “I had a great experience at Syracuse. My mom, my wife, my daughter, my business partner and too many family members to count have been educated here and done their part to create a lasting Rotenberg family legacy. We are filled with Orange pride.”
By Caroline K. Reff