David ’72 and Rhonda Falk ’74 Make $15 Million Gift to SU
David B. Falk ’72, Rhonda S. Falk ’74 Make $15 Million Gift to Syracuse University
March 24, 2011
Syracuse University alumni David B. Falk and Rhonda S. Falk have committed $15 million to SU—one of the largest-ever single gifts to the University.
In honor of the Falks’ generosity and support of SU, the College of Human Ecology, and the College’s Falk Center for Sport Management throughout the years, the College will be renamed the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. In addition, the College—portions of which are housed in eight different campus buildings—will relocate to a new, central location to be created at MacNaughton and White halls, currently home to the College of Law. The move will occur once the College of Law relocates to Dineen Hall, a new building for which planning is under way.
David Falk, a 1972 graduate of The College of Arts and Sciences, has long been recognized as one of the sports industry’s leading figures. He has represented many of the top players of all time in both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL) and has negotiated record-breaking contracts for his clients. Over the past 30 years, Falk’s vision and innovative approach helped to shape the evolution of the business of sports.
“The greatest challenge in contemporary America is educating our future generations of leaders, scientists, inventors, doctors and innovators,” says David. “It is our fond hope that this commitment will take Scholarship in Action to a new level at SU by creating a college that fosters creativity across interdisciplinary departments, as well as engaging students and faculty in new experiential and entrepreneurial opportunities. Providing an environment that promotes these cutting-edge learning opportunities will enable Syracuse to increase its momentum in transforming the student experience, and to reach beyond existing boundaries to attract the next generation of talented students who are destined to be difference makers in the world.”
Founding supporters of the Department of Sport Management at SU, the Falks expand their commitment to the College’s entire academic curriculum with this naming gift, creating opportunities that support a mission rich in teaching, research, scholarship, practice and service, complemented by cross-disciplinary collaboration among SU’s other schools and colleges and with other collaborators locally and nationally.
The Falks’ special connection to SU spans four decades and two generations, beginning when David and his wife, the former Rhonda Frank ‘74, met as SU students. In 2010, the Falks’ daughter, Jocelyn, graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. They credit their purposeful commitment to education to David’s mother, Pearl, who was a public school teacher. In her honor, the Falks established the Pearl W. Falk Endowed Chancellor’s Scholarship in 1998 to assist SU students from public schools in the Washington, D.C. area, marking the beginning of the Falks’ ongoing partnership with the University.
“We feel extremely fortunate that we are able to make this commitment to Syracuse University, a place that has played such a significant and very special role in our lives,” says Rhonda. “It is our hope that this gift will provide current and future students even greater opportunities than David and I enjoyed—not just as students but in the years that follow as part of a very proud, successful and supportive alumni community.”
“This transformative gift reflects not only David and Rhonda’s generosity as philanthropists, but their thoughtfulness and vision as deeply engaged donors,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “They are keenly attuned to the rapid evolution and increasing intersections of the academic fields in the College. We’re enormously grateful for this signature gift, which embraces Scholarship in Action by catalyzing cross-disciplinary collaboration across the College, from sport management, social work and public health to nutrition, marriage and family therapy, food studies and child and family studies.”
David is a founding member of the Syracuse University Advisory Board of Washington, D.C., and was awarded the George Arents Pioneer Medal in 1998. He was elected to SU’s Board of Trustees in 2008 and serves on its Advancement & External Affairs, and Student Affairs committees, and currently chairs the College’s Sport Management Advisory Council.
The gift, which represents an important milestone in the University’s current $1 billion capital campaign, builds on the Falks’ philanthropic leadership with the College. In 2008, the Falks provided support to establish the David B. Falk Center for Sport Management. The following year, the David B. Falk Professor of Sport Management was endowed to recruit nationally recognized faculty to enhance the research, academic and experiential learning components of the program.
Most recently, the Falk Center has combined the expertise and leadership of faculty members from SU’s College of Human Ecology, Newhouse School, Martin J. Whitman School of Management and the School of Information Studies to create unique interdisciplinary courses, projects and research. These collaborative efforts currently focus on creating a model interdisciplinary master’s degree in sport venue and event management.
“David is a true visionary whose commitment to academics as a path to success has been demonstrated repeatedly in his role as a University trustee and as chair of our Sport Management Advisory Board,” says Diane Lyden Murphy, dean of the College of Human Ecology. “He has watched closely as the College of Human Ecology has evolved, and he believes in and embraces our ultimate mission to be socially responsible and engage social justice through change to make a tangible difference. Rhonda and David’s extraordinary gift, which represents the most funding ever received at Syracuse University for academic programs within human services, guarantees for the first time in our college’s history a single unified physical space. We are most grateful for the Falks’ ongoing support and look forward to the power of enhanced collaboration they have made possible.”
David Falk’s career began with ProServ in 1974–representing professional athletes–where he rose to vice chairman. He subsequently formed Falk Associates Management Enterprises (FAME) in 1992 to provide specialized representation services to an elite clientele of NBA superstars. Among his accomplishments, Falk negotiated the highest contract in NBA league history for Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks, sports’ first $100 million contract in 1996 for Alonzo Mourning and Michael Jordan’s groundbreaking deal with Nike, in the process coining the phrase “Air Jordan.” David’s career also includes serving as executive producer of several films, including “Space Jam” and “On Hallowed Ground.” In 1998, Falk sold FAME to SFX Entertainment, serving on the company’s board of directors and in the office of chairman. In January 2007, Falk re-launched FAME and now serves as CEO.
He lectures at universities around the country and serves on the board of advisors at The George Washington University Law School. Falk also has served as chairman of the annual Sports-a-Thon to benefit the Leukemia Society of America and currently sits on the board of directors of the Congressional Award Foundation. He is a founder and principal in Pokeware, a digital alternative advertising company.
The Campaign for Syracuse University
The Falk gift will be counted in the Washington, D.C., regional total of The Campaign for Syracuse University. With a goal of $1 billion, The Campaign for Syracuse University is the most ambitious fundraising effort in SU’s history. Officially launched in November 2007, the five-year effort is now at a critical juncture. With a total of nearly $840 million raised and less than two years left to achieve the $1 billion campaign goal, the University has launched a series of regional campaigns to reach out to geographic areas with large concentrations of SU alumni, parents and friends.
The first of the six regional campaigns was recently completed in Boston. Currently, campaigns are underway in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, and will be followed by regional efforts in New York and two other key cities. “D.C. has a very active group of loyal alumni,” says Brian Sischo, SU’s vice president for development. “David and Rhonda have been longtime leaders and advocates for SU in D.C. and have helped spread the word about Syracuse University’s strengths, values and vision. Now, they’ve helped us reach a critical threshold in the life of the campaign, taking us beyond $850 million.” More information about the campaign is available online at campaign.syr.edu.