Alumnus Rob Light ’78 and wife Shelly give gift to support scholarships for historically underrepresented students

July 1, 2019

The generosity of Newhouse alumnus and Syracuse University Trustee Rob Light ’78 and his wife, Shelly, will support scholarships for historically underrepresented students pursuing studies in the Newhouse School, its Bandier Program in Recording and Entertainment Industries and the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). During a University event held in Los Angeles Tuesday, June 11, Light, managing partner of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), announced a gift of $300,000 that will endow three scholarships to provide outstanding academic opportunities to underrepresented students.

“As a member of the Board of Trustees, Rob is especially sensitive to the impact that scholarships have on our students,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “The Lights’ generous gift will help the University reach its critical goal in the Academic Strategic Plan to expand opportunity to diverse groups of promising students. The University is committed to creating an inclusive student body through access to vital resources and support.”

The gift will support the Light Family Newhouse Scholarship, the Light Family Bandier Scholarship and the Carolyne Barry Scholarship, which was named in honor of Shelly’s sister, Carolyne Barry.

Two of the scholarships will support student scholars interested in pursuing any number of rigorous academic programs in the Newhouse School and in VPA. The third scholarship is for a student enrolled in the preeminent Bandier Program in Recording and Entertainment Industries, which combines the study of the business of music, media, marketing and entrepreneurship with hands-on experiences to prepare students for successful music industry careers. Bandier scholars also complete coursework in VPA, the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and the College of Arts and Sciences. The program was made possible through a gift from Syracuse University Trustee and Sony/ATV Music Publishing Chairman and CEO Martin Bandier ’62. Light, along with alumni John Sykes ’77, president of Entertainment Enterprises at iHeartMedia, and Phil Quartararo ’77, president of Tripod Entertainment, helped create the concept for Bandier’s music industry program.

“I have always believed that my time at Syracuse University opened doors and provided amazing opportunities that were invaluable to my career. My wife Shelly and I have always felt strongly about sharing our success with others,” Light says. “We are proud and excited to endow three scholarships for diverse students in need in the Bandier Program and the Newhouse School, and through the Carolyne Barry Scholarship in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Our love for the University is enormous, which is why we are thrilled to help students join the Syracuse family and have access to the same opportunities that I did.”

Under Light’s leadership, CAA’s music department represents many of the world’s most popular and talented musical artists and comedians. Light oversees all of CAA’s music agents, providing strategic counsel on concert tours and event bookings worldwide, as well as advising clients on their overall career development.

Light made the scholarship announcement during an event held at the CAA headquarters in celebration of Black Music Month, during which music and entertainment trailblazer Suzanne de Passe ’68 was recognized by Syracuse University’s Office of Multicultural Advancement. A number of celebrities from entertainment and sport were in attendance, including award-winning singer and actress Vanessa Williams ’85; actress and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph; former chairperson and CEO of BET Networks Debra Lee; executive vice president and head of original programming at BET Networks Connie Orlando ’89; and Pro Football Hall of Famer Floyd Little ’67, H’16.

“We are so grateful that Rob and Shelly have decided to support underrepresented students in such a significant way,” says Assistant Vice President Rachel Vassel ’91, of the Office of Multicultural Advancement. “Their generosity underscores the idea that promoting diversity is everyone’s responsibility.”

The funding awards will be administered through the University’s Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholarship Program. The program, based in the Office of Multicultural Advancement, supports historically underrepresented students through a variety of scholarships based on financial need. The scholarship program also offers leadership development and mentorship by Syracuse University alumni and friends in addition to the monetary scholarship. The first OTHC scholarship campaign was launched in 1987. Since then, the program has assisted more than 1,300 scholars, with a graduation rate of 100 percent. In the 2018-19 academic year, there were 58 OTHC scholars.