Baldanza gift supports undergraduate research

Ben and Marcia BaldanzaA $125,000 challenge gift from Ben and Marcia Baldanza will help underwrite undergraduate research and scholarship at the Maxwell School. Ben Baldanza is a 1984 Maxwell School graduate, with a BA in economics and policy studies; he is also a member of the Maxwell Advisory Board.  His wife, Marcia, earned a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University’s School of Education in 1984.

The Baldanza Endowment for Undergraduate Excellence will meet expenses associated with undergraduate research and experiential learning. It will help fund Maxwell’s annual Celebration of Undergraduate Scholarship, an event held near the end of each academic year to share and reward undergraduate research projects. Other uses may include undergraduate research expenses, student service learning experiences, and awards for outstanding undergraduate student projects. (This year’s Celebration of Undergraduate Scholarship is scheduled for Wednesday, May 2.)

The Baldanzas’ gift will be used also to challenge all undergraduate alumni of Maxwell to give to the School over the coming months. Their gift will match, dollar-for-dollar, all new and increased giving by undergraduate alumni to any Maxwell program or fund they prefer.

The Baldanzas say they created the fund and challenge gift to “further support an institution that we both hold dear. Syracuse University holds a special place for us. We believe our undergraduate experiences at SU were first-rate and well prepared us for further education, work, and life."

“Having a rich, diverse, and educated population that can think, create, and communicate is critical to our democracy,” they continued. “We hope our gift can further those goals, support innovation, and inspire leadership.”

Ben Baldanza is the former president and CEO of Spirit Airlines (2005-16). He was previously senior vice president of marketing and planning at US Airways and, before that, managing director and chief operating officer of Grupo Taca, an airline group based in Latin America. He has also held management positions at Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines, and American Airlines. Altogether, he has more than 25 years of airline-related experience. In addition to his Maxwell degree, he holds a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University.

Marcia, a member of the School of Education's Board of Visitors, is a senior consultant for Just Ask Publications & Professional Development. Her long career in education includes a series of principalships at various public and specialized schools. She recently retired from the Palm Beach County, Florida, school district, where she was an area director for school reform and accountability and, prior to that, director of federal and state programs. Marcia holds a doctorate in education from the University of Minnesota and master’s degree in education from the University of North Texas.

02/09/18