Suffolk University has had a great deal of fundraising success this academic year. As you know, we have received some of the largest gifts in the University’s history. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Suffolk has received $4 million in cash donations and more than $15 million in new pledges and commitments thus far this year.

As we approach the end of the academic year and I look back on our Advancement success, I’m very happy with the dollars raised. But I’m even happier with how those gifts have touched not one, but several of the most important pillars of this institution.

These new gifts, and the completion of previous commitments, are supporting three areas that are critical to the success of this University. They are serving to improve the cocurricular student life experience, expand our access and opportunity mission, and support the excellence of our academic offerings and of our faculty.


  • A $3 million pledge from Larry and Michael Smith continues the brothers’ generous support for Suffolk’s athletics programs and facilities that enrich the student life experience. The Smith gift also supports student scholarships.
  • Leonard Samia’s $10 million pledge will provide scholarships to Massachusetts students with financial need – a gift that could not be more in line with our access and opportunity mission.
  • And through her establishment of the Carol Sawyer Parks Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies, Carol is providing vital support for our faculty members and our important academic mission.

I can’t overstate the positive impact of this mix of philanthropy to advancing our mission. Because Suffolk University is greater than the sum of its parts, we need to support all of those things to fully deliver on our commitment to students.

Led by our Advancement office, we are starting to see real traction in our efforts to build a culture of philanthropy across the Suffolk community. We have a long way to go, of course, and in many ways, we are only just beginning. But over the past year, we have seen important signs of progress, including these generous gifts. Building that culture of philanthropy takes broad support – an entire community committed to a mission and to the idea that everyone has a stake in the outcome.

This academic year has also seen a number of wonderful events that are building alumni engagement, another critical component of a culture of philanthropy. From the Summa Giving Society Holiday Party in December, to the Law Clinical Programs 50th Anniversary Dinner, to a reception in Madrid that brought together alumni, parents, and first-year students, as well as other events too numerous to name, we have had a slate of programs that have fostered a genuine sense of excitement about Suffolk and all that we do here.

One new achievement about which I am particularly excited is the launch of the Black Alumni Network. This was an idea first raised by double Ram and trustee Ernst Guerrier. Ernst has been a force behind bringing this idea to life, and I am so grateful to him and to all those who played a part. The Black Alumni Network, the Black Student Union, and the Black Law Students Association worked with our alumni office to hold the first Celebration of Black Excellence dinner just two weeks ago. About 300 guests attended as we highlighted the accomplishments of alumni, faculty, and staff of color. It was an incredible night that not only celebrated achievements of an accomplished slate of honorees, but also underscored Suffolk’s commitment to our core mission and the values that we are focused on fostering now and in the future.

These important events take the time and commitment of many individuals, and I want to thank all of those involved. Tomorrow is Suffolk’s annual “Day of Giving.” A donation, no matter the size, is an important sign of support for this culture of philanthropy that we are building together, and I hope you will consider making a gift. In a year of incredible alumni engagement and recording-breaking generosity, I am so grateful to all those who give their time, talent, and treasure to this University.


Marisa J. Kelly