Winston C. Fisher ’96 is among the most active of the young alumni who are shaping Syracuse University’s future. A partner in Fisher Brothers—a family-owned real estate firm whose portfolio includes millions of square feet of prime Manhattan office space, hotels in 11 U.S. states and Mexico, and an expansion of Washington, D.C.’s Union Station complex—he was a driving force behind SU's new academic home in New York City, the Fisher Center.
Elected to the SU Board of Trustees in 2008, Fisher serves on the academic affairs and facilities committees. He has also been a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors since 2003. “Syracuse is an exciting place, with an atmosphere full of energy that encourages alumni to be active participants in the life of the University,” he says.
A strong believer in both the utility and personal benefits of a well-rounded education, Fisher funds and actively participates in an annual five-day spring break experience for undergraduates, based at his company’s Park Avenue offices. The Winston Fisher Seminar is designed to demonstrate to students how the skills they acquire in pursuit of a liberal arts degree prepare them for successful careers in the business world.
In 2013, Fisher’s lead gift supported the establishment of the Fisher Center. This 20,000 square feet of purpose-built space in the heart of Manhattan provides classrooms and studios for such NYC-based immersion programs as the Tepper Semester, Syracuse Architecture NYC, and Newhouse in NYC, and will fuel SU’s growth in the city by accommodating new programs in all of SU’s schools and colleges.
“My father advised me to choose a major that excites me,” says Fisher, whose choice was philosophy. “He told me that a college education is a chance to learn to think critically and to articulate passions, and that those abilities will be helpful in any profession you choose.” Fisher’s early work experiences, at Chase Securities and Heller Financial, bore out his father’s advice. “I had learned to reason and I was able to make clear, concise arguments,” he says. “Those abilities have been more beneficial to me than number-crunching.”
As partner in one of the nation’s leading real estate firms, Fisher is charged with primary responsibilities in finance, acquisitions, and new development opportunities. Nonetheless, he manages to give his time, energy, and abilities to serving the needs of the University and other philanthropic, cultural, and community-minded organizations.
A member of the board of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, he chairs the Intrepid Relief Fund and is executive vice chair of the Fisher House Foundation, which has donated one or more “Fisher Houses” to major military medical centers across the country to ensure that veterans and active personnel can have loved ones nearby during their times of greatest need. “You have to contribute back,” he says. “That’s something I learned growing up and something I personally believe. To be a citizen, you need to do more than just business.”