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Syracuse University announces Fisher Center to open in New York City

Syracuse University’s Fisher Center, a new study abroad center in Manhattan, will allow students to immerse themselves in New York City through a program that provides real-world experience.

The establishment of the center was announced on Thursday, as part of a celebration on the Quad during which SU revealed it surpassed the $1 billion threshold in the Campaign for Syracuse University.

The center is named for Winston Fisher, an SU alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees. While the center’s opening date has not been set, SU expects it to be an abroad program for students from all schools and colleges at the university, said Kevin Quinn, vice president for public affairs.

Fisher was at the celebration on the Quad on Thursday, and took to the podium to describe SU’s ties with NYC and the importance of these ties. As he spoke, visible proof of SU’s presence in NYC — photos of the Lubin House and the Syracuse football team at the Pinstripe Bowl in 2010 — cycled on the projector screen behind him.

“I just thought that New York City would be a great place for a semester abroad academic center because of everything New York has to offer,” Fisher said. “Alumni base, diversity, richness and culture, business and government, there’s so much going on and it’s in our backyard.”

Fisher said he believes the location of the center will be at Madison Avenue and East 29th Street in Manhattan. SU will have 20,000 square feet of space with the option to expand to up to 40,000, he said.

Jimmy Kuhn, a 1970 SU graduate and president of the fourth-largest real estate brokerage firm in the world, found the location and negotiated the lease while working with the university, Fisher said.

“It’s a great building; it’s where everything is happening,” Fisher said.

Quinn could not confirm the location of the Fisher Center.

A recent graduate, Chelsea Damberg, revealed the new NYC hub when she returned to SU for Thursday’s celebration. Damberg graduated last May and now works as a production assistant for The Today Show in NYC. As a former member of the Student Philanthropy Council, she came back to introduce Fisher to the crowd and to announce the creation of the center.

Fisher said the center would benefit the university as a whole, citing several colleges that would feel the positive effects.

“I think it can really help Syracuse honestly improve its academics, its dynamic,” he said.

The NYC center will be named for Fisher as a result of his donation of a “lead gift” to the university, Quinn said. Fisher declined to disclose the exact amount of his donation.

“It’s real money,” he said.

At the podium, Fisher encouraged current students to give back to the university after they graduate. He said one of the biggest strengths of universities is the alumni base that helps to improve academics and quality of life.

Fisher committed a $250,000 “challenge gift” to encourage giving to the Orange Metro Fund, according to Syracuse University’s New York Giving website. The Orange Metro Fund was created to support and fund academic programs for SU students in New York City, according to the website.

The fund is meant to give students opportunities for “experiential learning opportunities” in the city. Fisher said the center will provide opportunities for students to gain real-world experience.

The center was something Fisher brought up to the university a while ago, he said, but discussions moved forward more recently.

SU”s Winston Fisher Seminar, which sends 12 College of Arts and Sciences students to NYC for an all-expenses paid, five-day program in a classroom on Park Avenue, is also named for Fisher.

Fisher graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy in 1996 and is currently a partner in Fisher Brothers, a family-owned real estate firm.

Fisher said he has always tried to give back to SU, and landing his name on the Fisher Center is simply an added bonus.

“I mean, I’m just happy, honestly, I care that the university did it and they can use it for students, and I think the faculty loves it, I hope the faculty loves it,” he said. “I’m just excited that SU is taking advantage of what New York City has to offer.”

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