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When Orange Calls You Home

Jim and Linda Balducci love showing their Syracuse University pride. Now they hope their gifts will provide opportunities for future students and strengthen the University that they believe is the "backbone" of the city.

Jim and Linda Balducci pose together in Syracuse University apparel

Jim Balducci ’69 and his wife, Linda, are Syracuse University through and through, and they show their love of being Orange in a multitude of ways. For this Syracuse University alumnus, orange is the color of greatness—a great university that helped shape the trajectory of his life. He wears his pride “on his sleeve”—literally, in the many orange colored shirts he buys at the campus bookstore. He has Syracuse University blankets and decorations throughout his home. And you cannot miss him on the road. His Subaru Crosstrek makes a statement. It’s orange. The interior is black leather with orange stitching. The license plate reads GO SU 44.

Most meaningful to the Balduccis, though, is their connection to the institution through giving to support Syracuse students—those enrolled now as well as those who will attend in the future. As part of their philanthropy, they became members of the 1870 Society (the legacy society), joining visionary individuals who have remembered Syracuse University in their long-term financial and estate plans. “We wanted to do something that would make an impact on the students, but would also ensure our financial freedom during our lifetimes. Making a gift through our living trust was a way for us to do it all.”

“I grew up in a very small town in Central New York, graduating high school with about 80 other kids,” says Jim. “Syracuse University introduced me to a great deal of diverse people from different countries and cultures. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Man, have I had a shallow life.’” He credits the University with opening his eyes to a wide world of opportunities, too.

Jim came to Syracuse to pursue an advanced degree in education administration from the School of Education . He was already living part of his professional dream after graduating from SUNY Oswego in 1962 and teaching high schoolers, but he loved learning and continued to advance his dream through a master’s degree and working toward a PhD. Still, his horizon continued to grow. “There was a subtle message from my professors,” he recalls. “We were encouraged to explore our abilities and think outside the box. The message I got was that if you have enough confidence in yourself, why not try other areas? Live a life that offers different experiences.” And so he did: after decades of working in the public school system, he accepted a job in commercial real estate development. His next career was launched, one that would give him and his family the financial foundation to pursue even more dreams—and to give back to the university that helped launch them.

Jim and Linda Balducci in front of a Syracuse University flag outside their home

Jim and Linda are diverse in their philanthropy to the University, with gifts to the School of Education, to the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs , where he took several courses he loved, and to Hendricks Chapel (he used to enjoy a dining service there when he was a student, where “you could get a whole lot of food for not a whole lot of money!”). And, of course, there’s athletics. Avid Orange fans, Jim and Linda have had season tickets to the Dome since it opened in fall of 1980 (even when they lived in California and could only make it back for a few games each season). They fly three University flags outside their home in Skaneateles. And they have a brick in the Orange Grove. In addition to being members of the 1870 Society—because they want the impact of their gifts to live beyond their lives—their generosity has also earned them membership in the Hill Society this year. They believe that a strong university is the “backbone” of a strong Syracuse and see their commitment as not only providing opportunities for current and future generations of students, but for the city itself to grow and thrive.

“The people here are very genuine. They are truly the ‘salt of the earth,’” Balducci says, in explaining why he and his wife decided to move back to the Syracuse area after years spent working and living in Chicago and California. Linda, who grew up in Syracuse but left to attend college at Northeast Missouri State, says: “Until you leave the area, you don’t know what you’re missing.”

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