June 18, 2008

Randy Daniels’ $100,000 gift will fund scholarships

by Greg Scott

Randy Daniels

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- As a former statewide-appointed official, SIU Carbondale alumnus Randy Daniels is fully aware of budget issues facing public institutions. The 1973 SIU radio-television graduate, who served as New York’s Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005, is making a commitment to assist his alma mater in conquering this challenge.

Daniels has donated $100,000 to fund scholarships in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts at Southern. The gift will be evenly split to provide awards to students in financial need, and others who have attained academic excellence, respectively.

“My goal is to address two issues … need and excellence. This is the basis upon which scholarships should be presented,” Daniels says. “Therefore, we’re addressing students in need, and additionally, rewarding young people for academic excellence.”

The SIU alumnus is seeking to create opportunities for deserving students.

“We don’t live in a world with a level playing field. Some students struggle because they haven’t received excellent preparatory education, but they are capable of succeeding at the college level,” he says. “Others are high achievers academically, but require financial assistance to attain a college education. I want to help both types of student.”

Daniels, vice chairman of the State University of New York board, says public institutions, including SIU Carbondale, are becoming more reliant on private fundraising to offer quality education to students. State support of public universities has steadily decreased in recent years, according to Daniels.

“Those who have benefited from an excellent public education have a responsibility to give something back. This has to become a part of our culture; much like it is for private schools,” he says. “It should be a strong component of any university’s long-term strategic plan. We can’t rely on the government; therefore, we have to raise private funds. Public institutions must be creative and aggressive to keep pace.

“That’s why SIU Carbondale’s current comprehensive campaign to raise $100 million in support of University initiatives is extremely important.”

Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor of institutional advancement and chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation, says Daniels’ gift is a testament to his loyalty for Southern.

“Randy Daniels is setting a wonderful example with a gift of this nature. He has been a leader in the state of New York and is exhibiting similar attributes in our efforts to enhance private funding at SIU,” McCurry says. “We appreciate Randy’s knowledge and understanding of the challenges public institutions encounter. Furthermore, we hope Randy’s fellow SIU alumni follow suit when they become aware of his generosity and willingness to take action.”

Daniels grew up in the Altgeld Gardens housing project on the south side of Chicago. He was one of 10 children in a working-class family. His father owned a small business, while his mother worked as a nurse’s aide. Although the Thornton High School graduate hailed from humble surroundings, he proceeded to become a college graduate, a CBS News war correspondent and a high-ranking official in the state of New York. He is currently vice chairman of Gilford Securities, Inc., in New York, an investment bank that focuses on the Middle East and Asia in addition to the United States.

“The access and affordability of a high-quality public university was critical to my development,” he says. “SIU made a profound difference in my life. It introduced the world to me in a way that I could not have imagined. SIU provided me with the tools necessary to compete and it’s a gift that has lasted a lifetime.”

“There is no way I would be where I am today without SIU.”

The SIU graduate has passed these values on to his two daughters, Toure and Asha. Toure, a graduate of Hampton University, is completing her MBA at Baruch College in New York. Asha, a graduate of Spellman College, is beginning work toward her master’s degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Both are attending highly rated public institutions in the City University of New York system.

“If you are willing and able to do the work, there should be a seat in a public university setting for you. I want every kid who is prepared to work to have that opportunity,” he says. “I intend to do more for SIU as I am able.”