Howard G. “Howie” Phanstiel ’70, G’71 is a strong believer in giving back and creating opportunities for others. Phanstiel—a Syracuse University Life Trustee who will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Commencement 2022—is a former health care executive whose leadership and philanthropic efforts have touched many lives.
Phanstiel, who retired as chair and CEO of PacifiCare Health Systems in 2007, rose to great heights in his career, bringing expertise in financial management, information technology and managed care to leadership roles in both the public and private sectors. Through it all, Phanstiel—who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the College of Arts and Sciences and Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and a master of public administration degree from the Maxwell School—never forgot the impact Syracuse University had on him. “Because life has been good to me, it’s time for me to give back to the institution that played such an important role in my personal development,” he said in a 2007 interview with Syracuse University Magazine while serving as co-chair of The Campaign for Syracuse University, which raised more than $1 billion. “Syracuse University taught me, first and foremost, to be a good citizen.”
Legacy of Philanthropy
Phanstiel and his wife, Louise Phanstiel, a voting member of the Board of Trustees, have created a remarkable legacy of philanthropy at Syracuse University, generously supporting the Maxwell School, Syracuse Athletics and numerous other areas. In 2010, they made a $20 million commitment—one of the largest gifts that Syracuse University has ever received—to establish the Phanstiel Scholars program. Launched in 2011, the program provides scholarship support to middle-class students who are U.S. citizens and demonstrate the potential for academic success and community leadership. Since then, it has assisted more than 80 Phanstiel Scholars. “I am so appreciative of the Phanstiels’ generosity in helping to fund my education,” says Phanstiel Scholar Ariel Samuel ’22, a writing and rhetoric and digital humanities dual major in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Without them, my time at Syracuse would not have been possible.”
Creating Impactful Experiences
Samuel, who will graduate in December, cites several community experiences from the past year as influential in her development. Among them, she served as a communications intern at La Casita Cultural Center, where she worked with elementary school students in a weekly writing and arts workshop and helped them produce a children’s book. Along with doing social media posts for the center and developing her Spanish language skills, Samuel collaborated with a SUNY Upstate Medical University student on a public health campaign to encourage members of the Latino community to get vaccinated.
Syracuse University taught me, first and foremost, to be a good citizen.—Howard G. Phanstiel ’70, G’71
Phanstiel Scholar Connor Silva ’23 is pursuing a dual bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises and public relations from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He thanks the Phanstiels for providing him with the opportunity to attend the University. “These past three years I have learned so much about myself, have received such an amazing education and have made some amazing friends,” he says.
For Jenna Poma ’25, a policy studies and citizenship and civic engagement major in the Maxwell School, being a Phanstiel Scholar means giving back, being involved and having a positive influence on others—just as the Phanstiel family has done in supporting her education. “This program has made an enormous difference in my ability to afford Syracuse University and have the college experience I always dreamed of,” she says. “Because of this, I want to do everything I can to have that same impact on those around me. Being a Phanstiel Scholar means accepting gifts graciously and committing to pay them forward. It means leaving the people and places you engage with better off with you having been there.”
Being a Phanstiel Scholar has opened my eyes to the tangible difference you can make when giving back to others.—Jenna Poma ’25
Poma appreciates that the Phanstiels believe in her and have invested in her future. In turn, she’s been inspired to move outside of her comfort zone. She’s participated in clubs and organizations, taken on leadership roles and dedicated herself to her studies. As a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, she’s been involved in numerous philanthropic activities, including the sorority’s Karaoke for a Cause, a fundraising event that benefited the Rescue Mission, which serves those in need in the local community. “Being a Phanstiel Scholar has opened my eyes to the tangible difference you can make when giving back to others,” she says. “With so much more to look forward to over my next three years at Syracuse University, I can confidently say this program has played a huge hand in what I have experienced so far, and I cannot wait to see what is next.”