Make an impact. Apply for up to $20,000 in prizes through the Syracuse University 2021 Impact Prize.

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The Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries is accepting applications through November 5 for the Impact Prize, a competition designed to catalyze social entrepreneurship. The Impact Prize is open to Syracuse University and State University of New York Environmental Science and Forestry students either taking entrepreneurship classes at the University or working on ventures that create a social impact. The virtual competition on Friday, November 12 will feature $20,000 in prizes thanks to generous donations from Syracuse University Libraries’ donors Carl and Marcy Armani, in honor of Dr. Gay Culverhouse, and Dr. Gisela von Dran.

Ventures and ideas for this competition can be products, services, or technologies that are practical, innovative, and sustainable solutions to societal problems anywhere around the globe. Examples of ventures may include solutions that address energy, environment, employment, education and training, health and mental health, community and social networks, social inclusion, poverty and literacy, youth empowerment, food, sustainability, access, important public policy goals, and COVID-19 responses. The Impact Prize is a gateway to other campus competitions like the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award. 

Helping the LaunchPad coordinate the event is Jack Ramza ’22 (Martin J. Whitman School of Management and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications) who was selected by the LaunchPad as the 2021 – 2022 Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar.

This year’s competition includes a $15,000 Dr. Gay Culverhouse Impact Award prize package through a gift from SU Libraries Advisory Board Member Carl Armani and his wife Marcy, made in honor of Dr. Gay Culverhouse. 

David Seaman, Dean of SU Libraries and University Librarian said, “We are very pleased to be able to honor and memorialize Dr. Culverhouse in this fashion and plan to use the Armani gift to support our annual Impact Prize, a competition for social entrepreneurship, which is very much in keeping with the work Dr. Culverhouse did with football players and brain injury.  She was clearly someone focused on creating meaningful social impact and change, just as our students are, and I’m sure her story will resonate with them.”

The Impact Prize is also funded through a $5,000 gift to SU Libraries from Dr. Gisela von Dran – director emerita of the School of Information Studies’ (iSchool) Master of Science in Library and Information Science program – who has a special interest in social entrepreneurship.

As a member of the iSchool faculty, she taught organization management courses at the graduate level. Before joining the iSchool, Dr. von Dran served as an assistant professor of management at the Whitman School of Management. She is the wife of Raymond von Dran, former dean of the iSchool from 1995 until his death in 2007. Von Dran was a longtime academic entrepreneur who started many innovative programs in higher education and supported student innovation and entrepreneurship at Syracuse University. Shortly after his death in 2007, Gisela von Dran established the Raymond F. von Dran Fund.

Those interested can apply online or e-mail for more information.

Story by Jack Ramza ’22, Hunter Brooks Watson Scholar

About Dr. Gay Culverhouse:

Dr. Gay Culverhouse was a pioneer in education, sports and medicine, serving as president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1988 to 1994.  She wrote a book, “Throwaway Players: The Concussion Crisis from Pee Wee Football to the NFL” on the topic and was at the forefront of raising this issue at the national level. 

She passed away on July 1, 2020.  According to her New York Times obituary, “She navigated the league’s male-dominated world as a team president, then devoted her energy to fighting on behalf of players with brain disorders.” The obituary by Richard Goldstein noted, “Gay Culverhouse put aside her career focusing on special education and child psychiatry to join the family business, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the N.F.L., and who went on to champion the cause of former professional football players debilitated by dementia and other health issues.”

Before taking over as president of the Buccaneers, she devoted nearly a decade of her life as a senior executive of the team when they were owned by her father, Hugh Culverhouse Sr..  According to The Times obituary, “Though she loved the game, she never intended to make football a career.” 

Before joining the Buccaneers, she had earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University with a focus on intellectual disabilities research.  She was an adjunct faculty member at Columbia and held several major teaching and research roles through her career, including as a faculty member at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, as an education specialist focusing on child psychiatry.

She was also an accomplished entrepreneur, as CEO of Aquarian Show, training, showing and breeding Paso Fine horses, and CEO of C and W Cattle Company.  She was the president of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

According to The Times obituary, after leaving her role as president of the Buccaneers, she “made a resounding return to the pro football scene 15 years later when she lent her voice, backed by her money, to the cause of retired players with brain disorders that might have resulted from on-field concussions largely ignored by their teams. After tracking down former players who had become neurologically impaired, Ms. Culverhouse testified in October 2009 at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on football brain injuries.” She advocated for hiring independent doctors and led the charge to create and implement mandatory guidelines for sidelining players with concussions.

She invested her own money to create the Gay Culverhouse Players’ Outreach Program, now known as the Retired Player Assistance.

She also returned to education after her football career, serving as president of Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio.