A legacy and a new institute to advance innovation in life sciences and business
Charles (Charlie) and Carolyn Wheeler ’67 have been married and in business together for over five decades. They lived conservatively, which allowed them to build an estate that fulfills a common dream: to help humanity for generations to come. Their recent donation to Syracuse University will do just that, advancing academic excellence and innovation in life sciences and business.
It all started when Carolyn graduated from Syracuse University in 1967 with a degree in psychology, sociology, and fine arts. The young student walked into the Syracuse office of the UK-based Royal Insurance Co., where Charlie was on the management team. Carolyn had applied for an underwriter position. Charlie turned her down – he was worried about her inexperience and the investment in resources the company would have to make to train her – but was rejected by a hiring committee. Carolyn became the first female underwriter hired by the company in the United States.
Six months later, Charlie married her.
“Charlie was able to capitalize on the company’s investment,” Carolyn laughs. “And throughout our lives together, he has shown great business acumen, putting us in a position to be able to make this important inheritance gift to the University.” The Wheelers prefer to keep the total amount of their bequest confidential, but their extraordinary generosity will be recognized in their name through a new institute and two endowed chairs. Their planned giving advances the Forever Orange campaign’s support for groundbreaking and impactful research.
The vision of the Carolyn B. and Charles M. Wheeler Institute is to combine the talents, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and business acumen among faculty and life science students at the College of Arts and Sciences and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. . The aim is to market life science discoveries in a safe and more efficient manner to meet global challenges in health and materials innovation. Collaboration between researchers, faculty and students at the Wheeler Institute will accelerate the development of breakthroughs in disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
The institute will promote basic and applied research in the life sciences, while tailoring programs and research in finance, regulation and supply chains to specific business conditions in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices. There will be internships, experiential learning, professional development and networking opportunities, as well as grants to help launch products and services derived from life science research.
“The life sciences are essential engines of health, as well as economic growth and jobs,” says Gene Anderson, Dean of the Whitman School. “The Wheelers’ generous donation will greatly advance the impact of life sciences on the health of individuals and communities through the power of corporations. “
“We’ve known so many brilliant people who had great ideas, but didn’t have the business acumen to make those ideas come true,” Charlie says. “You can be extremely smart in science, but you have to be business savvy to be successful. “
The Wheeler Institute will be led by two endowed chairs: the Carolyn B. Wheeler Chair in Arts and Science and the Charles M. Wheeler Chair in Whitman. Chairs will recognize highly accomplished faculty members and help them take their research and teaching to the next level.
“I am grateful to Charles and Carolyn Wheeler for their generosity in creating the Wheeler Institute and its two new endowed chairs,” said Karin Ruhlandt, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Through the Wheelers’ visionary gift, students will develop the scientific and entrepreneurial insights needed to help push the boundaries of pharmaceutical and medical innovation for healthier communities as the world continues to grapple with the pandemic. “
The Wheelers hope the new institute will attract the best and brightest biological research and business students to Syracuse University. “They are our hope for a better future, to transcend all the issues our world faces,” says Carolyn.
Five decades after their first meeting, the Wheelers are eager to leave a legacy full of promise. “We are so lucky to have achieved just about everything we wanted to achieve in life and in business,” says Charlie. “We didn’t want to live an extravagant lifestyle,” says Carolyn. “Our desire now is to see this institute thrive, bring even more excellence to Syracuse University, and produce the kind of talent that will change our world for the better and help humanity in the long run.”
About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university that advances knowledge in all disciplines to foster breakthrough discoveries and cutting-edge leadership. Our collection of 13 schools and colleges with over 200 customizable majors bridges the gap between education and action, so students can take on the world. In and beyond the classroom, we connect people, perspectives and practices to solve interconnected challenges with interdisciplinary approaches. Together, we are a powerful community that moves ideas, people and impact beyond what is possible.
About Forever Orange: The Campaign for Syracuse University
Orange is not just our color. It’s our promise to make the world a better place than we found it. Forever Orange: The campaign for Syracuse University is ready to do just that. Fueled by 150 years of intrepid firsts, together we can enhance academic excellence, transform the student experience, and expand unique opportunities for learning and growth. Forever Orange is working to raise $ 1.5 billion in philanthropic support, inspire 125,000 individual donors to participate in the campaign and actively involve one in five alumni in the life of the University. Now is the time to show the world what Orange can do. Visit forever orange.syr.edu to learn more.