Dr. Jason Soifer ’51 was neither a playwright nor a music student at Syracuse University. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Arts and Sciences and pursued a distinguished career in medicine as an anesthesiologist in San Francisco. But he had a deep appreciation for the universal language of the performing arts and the talent his gift is intended to support.
Soifer, who died on July 14, 2021 at the age of 91, named Syracuse University the beneficiary of his $ 2.7 million charity remains unitrust. As part of the Forever Orange campaign, the donation creates new endowments on behalf of Soifer in the drama department to support scholarships and to the Setnor School of Music to support international studies and experiences, both at College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA).
“I had always been struck by the scene, gifted with a booming voice, supported by a lack of talent, but I persevered and ended up at the box office during my four years in Syracuse,” said said Soifer when describing the inspiration behind the endowments. , in an interview earlier this year. “I trained at the Amsterdam Faculty of Medicine in the Netherlands and realized how important an international education was, especially in language and to broaden one’s outlook on life. It can be quite informative for people – watch from a sidewalk cafe in Paris! Soifer served overseas in the US military and was stationed in Paris for NATO as a medical chief. The Setnor School endowment to support international studies aims to give students the same opportunities to absorb new cultures and expand their worldview.
“This gift is very personal to me,” says Milton Rubén Laufer, director of the Setnor School of Music. Although Laufer has never met the man behind the gift, he deeply appreciates the potential impact of Soifer’s endowment to support the music and drama students of the VPA. “Although I was a promising student, my family could not afford the tuition fees to get me to my best choices. It’s a scholarship like this, just for under-represented students, that has given me the opportunity to attend the best schools and travel internationally. I wouldn’t be where I am today without these experiences or support.
Echoing Laufer’s sentiments, Holly Thuma, acting chair of the drama department, also describes Soifer’s gift as an opportunity that “helps us overcome the inequalities that many students face.” The Jason Soifer Theater Scholarship is intended to provide scholarship and financial assistance to students who will bring diverse perspectives to the dramatic arts. “We are one of the top rated drama programs in the country,” says Thuma, “but many talented students cannot afford to come here. We are very grateful for Dr Soifer’s gift, which offers a real chance to make a difference.
Thuma emphasizes that exposure to diverse perspectives and voices is vital for the developing artist. “To become better actors, you need empathy, walking a mile in someone else’s shoes,” says Thuma. “That’s what actors do. We step into someone else’s shoes and have that life experience. Part of our job is to help students expand their worldview – by performing, directing, designing, all aspects of the performing arts. Various voices are part of our art form and we need to expand the stories we tell. The drama department has a strong vision for the future, a vision in which stories that have long been excluded will receive their due and take center stage. “
“Cost is the biggest obstacle for anyone with talent to come here,” says Laufer. “Scholarship support that brings diverse voices and perspectives to the scene will strengthen the college as a whole. Laufer is also co-chair of the VPA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. “These students could be the next Fulbright Scholar or Grammy or Tony Winner, or the next professor or dean. I am the first person of color to lead Setnor in its 140 year history. It is not my intention to be the last.
The Jason Soifer Endowment Fund for International Music Opportunities provides students with a broader worldview through cultural music exchange and immersion programs, international competitions, concerts, performance tools, scholarships and scholarships. ‘studies, student research and internship opportunities.
“I think every Setnor student should have the chance to be on foreign soil,” says Laufer. “It increases our abilities as artists to immerse ourselves, to transcend language in many ways and to break down barriers. It helps our students to develop as human beings and citizens of the world. There is a certain aspect of fearlessness that accompanies international travel and it is also an important gift for our students. Also, the more our students interact with students from other countries, the more likely we are to have international students here.
VPA Dean Michael Tick calls Soifer’s gift transformational. “Jason Soifer has provided opportunities for current drama and music students and has invested in the future of Syracuse University. I am deeply grateful for how the Soifer Endowments will elevate the VPA for years to come. “
About Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university that advances knowledge in all disciplines to foster ground-breaking 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.