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New undergraduate scholarship honors David Smith for 35 years of service, helps students facing unexpected financial hardship

May 07, 2010

Veronica Hotaling
(315) 443-4944

Throughout his career as head of admissions and financial aid at Syracuse University, David Smith made a difference in countless students’ lives—by facilitating additional financial aid in times of pivotal need, offering encouragement and motivation, or leading by example. After 35-plus years of service, Smith retired as vice president for enrollment management in August 2007. To carry on his life’s work of giving young people every opportunity to succeed, the University has created the David and Debbie Smith Undergraduate Scholarship Endowed Fund to help students facing unexpected financial hardship stay in school.

smith“Simply put, I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for David Smith’s influence,” says Mohamed Jalloh ’01, an attorney, adjunct professor and elected official in Elizabeth, N.J. “He gave me a chance, and I am so thankful to him for pointing me in the right direction and guiding me through major decisions in my life. I know his legacy will continue through me and all those he touched and inspired.”

When the global financial meltdown hit in fall 2008, Smith was at the forefront of the Syracuse Responds Initiative, a one-time, 60-day fundraising campaign to provide additional financial aid to students severely impacted by the economic downturn. By the campaign’s end, SU was able to provide additional assistance for 426 current students, many of whom could not have returned for the spring semester without it.

“When my dad died six years ago, my mom stepped in to run our family’s moving company,” says Matthew Fiore ’11, a Syracuse Responds recipient. “In these hard economic times, our business is struggling, and my mom hasn’t been able to draw much of a salary. Extra assistance from the Syracuse Responds campaign made it possible for me to complete my studies at SU.”

Volatile economic conditions continue to impact SU students in ways they never could have imagined. The David and Debbie Smith Undergraduate Scholarship Endowed Fund—inspired by the Smiths’ enduring commitment to educational access and opportunity—will ensure the University has the consistent and flexible resources needed to come to the aid of students facing unforeseen circumstances beyond their control. “My wife, Debbie, and I think the time is right to strengthen the University’s ability to take action when a student needs extra help to stay in school,” Smith says. “I hope this endowed scholarship fund will help fill the hole of desperation.”

Leadership gifts from David and Debbie Smith; Vice President for Enrollment Management Don Saleh and his wife, Florence; plus a commitment from SU parents Ben and Arlene Morelli, have provided a good foundation for the scholarship fund. In addition, the University has committed to providing immediate matching funds so that the scholarship can have an impact now, while the principal builds.  

Gifts that support endowed scholarships are a top priority of The Campaign for Syracuse University. With a goal of $1 billion, it is the most ambitious fundraising effort in SU’s history. By raising funds for student access and support, the campaign is continuing to drive Scholarship in Action, the University’s mission to provide students, faculty and communities with the insights needed to incite positive and lasting change in the world.

For more information about how to ensure that Syracuse University students have the financial support they need to succeed in times of crisis, call (315) 443.2865 or 877.2GROWSU. To make an online gift, visit and click “give now.”

To read more about Smith, visit

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