Whitman Voices


Orange Family Legacy: The Cooper/McNeill Alumni Bond

Orange Family Legacy: The Cooper/McNeill Alumni Bond

Photo collageI grew up a Syracuse fan, which made sense given the deep bench of SU graduates and former students in my family: grandfather, Ned Cooper; father, Philip McNeill ’81; mother, Leslie (Cooper) McNeill; aunt, Lisa (Cooper) Rich ’81; aunt Lisa (Cohen) Cooper ’83; aunt Lisa’s father, Jerome Cohen ’48. Though alumni ties were strong, it was watching Coach Boeheim cut down the net in New Orleans for the 2003 NCAA National Championship that really sealed the deal for me. From that point on, I was very excited to become part of a legacy I knew so much about…my wife, Meredith, not so much.

While I had been steeped in Syracuse Orange tradition since I was young, Meredith didn’t quite know what she was getting into. A California native, she moved to Syracuse her freshman year with nothing heavier than a jean jacket. She quickly purchased a down coat and fully embraced everything Syracuse had to offer.

At our San Francisco wedding in October 2014, we had well over 20 Syracuse alumni spanning multiple decades, but what stood out most was that the majority of our wedding party was people we met our freshman year. These friends have remained some of our closest, which given how frequently we all have moved around, struck us as something special and rare.

Of course when you get together so many people with a common bond of going to Syracuse, everyone starts sharing their favorite stories from their college days. My parents always like to talk about how they met, my friends compare this year’s basketball team to past teams, and Meredith’s bridesmaids are still upset that they only got third place in Chuck’s Halloween costume contest (another friend at our wedding was the first place winner).

Whether it is attending Syracuse games when they come to D.C. to play Georgetown, connecting with current students for career networking or visiting friends we met at Syracuse on multiple coasts and continents, Syracuse always seems to weave itself into our social and professional lives, and that makes us both happy.

Photo collage: (top left) Ned Cooper on the SU quad in 1948; (top right) Philip McNeill and Leslie (Cooper) McNeill and family at commencement 1981; (bottom left and right) Andrew and Meredith’s wedding – photographs by Bowerbird Photography

Andrew McNeill
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