Memories Repaid

Fond recollections of an undergrad career five decades ago inspire Elliot Stamler to plan a significant bequest to his long-ago home department, Political Science.

Stamler,-Elliot.jpgDuring Elliot J. Stamler’s final semester at Maxwell in 1960, he was among students at a lunch for former President Harry S. Truman. Stamler remembers Truman giving an impromptu talk on the patio overlooking the Abraham Lincoln sculpture. “Truman shook hands and spoke with each of us,” says Stamler ’60 BA (PSc). “That was a terrific experience.”

He also well remembers his professors, “especially the legendary Michael Sawyer.” Sawyer’s teaching methods influenced Stamler’s career and political views. “He made sure you thought out every opinion you had,” he recalls. “The thinking processes, the analytical processes he taught have stayed with me.” Stamler was a student senate leader, president of the Young Democrats, and a champion debater. Sawyer’s class “was the most significant course I ever took,” he says.

In appreciation, Stamler has planned a $900,000 bequest to create the Elliot J. Stamler Endowed Fund in Political Science. It will support undergraduates interested in constitutional law, the subject Sawyer popularly taught; and will support department lectures and graduate assistantships. This is on top of another $900,000 Stamler will give to other Syracuse programs.

“When Elliot Stamler was weighing his experiences at Maxwell and aspiring to make an important contribution, it became clear that a planned- giving approach would lead to a legacy-defining gift,” says Linda Birnbaum, assistant dean for development. “This is how he will memorialize forever his appreciation for political science and Mike Sawyer specifically.”

Stamler, who worked in television marketing, direct marketing, and financial management before retiring five years ago, has another crucial memory of Syracuse. Arriving, age 17, and attending the opening freshman convocation in Hendricks Chapel, where Chancellor William Tolley said, “From now on, you are all Syracusans. Your time here will be an experience you will never forget.” Says Stamler: “He was absolutely right.”