Spring is arriving at SUNY Oswego, and students are shaking off late-winter doldrums with Frisbee on the emerging grass and soaking up the sunshine’s warmth. Spirits are lifted and smiles abound. It’s amazing what a smile can do—not just here on campus, but also in our day-to-day interactions. Smiles transcend all language barriers and can convey a range of positive feelings—kindness, gratitude, hope, understanding, joy and so many others.
Our cover story highlights alumna Susannah Melchior Schaefer ’90, who leads an organization dedicated to “improving the world one smile at a time”. The largest cleft repair organization, Smile Train works with partner doctors and hospitals to provide free cleft repair surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children in more than 85 countries. Through her work, she is quite literally helping give every child a chance to smile. The organization has funded surgeries for well over 1 million children worldwide—not only giving them cosmetic facial work, but also providing critical repairs to their mouths and palates to improve speaking, eating and breathing.
One of my favorite parts of the job as president of SUNY Oswego is meeting our exceptional alumni like Susannah, who are making an impact on the world through their careers and service. In this issue, we also spotlight another alumna, Martha Swan ’81, who saw a need in her community and took action to make a change. Her compassion toward the family of an inmate housed in a maximum-security prison near home led her to found Friends in the Adirondacks and fulfill her personal mission of making the Adirondacks “truly welcoming” to all people.
For more than 50 years, the Black Student Union on campus has had a similar mission of making all students—but especially students of color—feel welcome and valued. Throughout its long and vibrant history, the organization has helped educate the campus community about black history and culture, and has provided leadership opportunities for students who organize a robust schedule of activities every year, including collaborating with the African Student Organization, Asian Student Association, Latino Student Union and the Native American Heritage Association on the annual ALANA celebration. A key reason for this group’s success throughout its five decades is thanks to another alumnus, Howard Gordon ’74 M’78, whose contributions to this campus cannot be overstated. He has provided the college with leadership and has been a consistent voice in all college conversations about diversity and multicultural programming.
Finally, this issue tells the story of some of our alumni-athlete NCAA coaches—who provide the roles of leader, mentor, teacher and rule enforcer for their teams. Their work lays the foundation for their student-athletes’ lifelong connection to competitive and team sports. These alumni coaches model the sportsmanship, teamwork and drive that students can emulate throughout their professional and personal lives.
Our alumni are the embodiment of our power as an educational institution to improve the world; they demonstrate our value in contributing toward the public good. I am so proud of what all of you accomplish and how you represent us in the world beyond Oswego. You give us a lot to smile about!
Deborah F. Stanley