Constructing a Legacy
Being devoted to Syracuse University comes naturally to Michael Wohl. In fact, his lifelong relationship with SU was pretty much a given from the time he was born, when—the story goes—his dad, Alfred Wohl ‘34, an All-America lacrosse player and Whitman School alumnus, attached a Sigma Alpha Mu pledge pin to his diaper. “I’ve been coming to Syracuse since I was 10 years old, traveling up by train from New York for football games,” recalls Wohl, a University Trustee who also serves on the advisory boards of the College of Law and the Falk College Department of Sport Management. “When it came time to look at colleges, I applied to one school. And the rest is history.”
It’s a history rich with achievement and generosity, and one that spans three generations, from his parents to his daughter, Heather Wohl ‘12, a Falk College graduate. As an undergraduate, Wohl majored in sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences, played on the baseball team, and studied abroad in Amsterdam. He then returned to Syracuse to earn a law degree before relocating to South Florida to launch his career.
Wohl followed in his father’s footsteps professionally as well as academically, practicing law while becoming active in real estate development and management. Now a recognized leader in developing affordable housing in urban environments, Wohl is a partner with the Miami-based Pinnacle Housing Group, which focuses on high-quality affordable housing for working families and seniors in the Southeast United States. “I engage in a great profession that is very satisfying, because it is doing well by doing good for communities,” he says.
Through the years, Wohl has consistently sought ways to do good for the SU community as well. His contributions to his alma mater have taken many forms, including funding scholarships and facility and program enhancements. Especially meaningful for him was when he joined his mother, Sheila ‘34, and the rest of his family in honoring his father following his death in 1986 with a donation to the University to build the Alfred Wohl lacrosse practice field. “My father was a humble man who achieved a lot in his lifetime,” Wohl says. “Naming the field for him was a wonderful event for our family.” He also points to the gift he and his wife, Betty, made to the College of Law to support the Veterans Legal Clinic there as another program that is particularly important to him.
As a Trustee, Wohl is looking forward to assisting with the plans for substantial renovations and upgrades to Archbold Gymnasium, as proposed in the draft Campus Framework, that will transform it into the Arch—a premier student-focused health and wellness complex. Once completed, the Arch will provide 130,000 square feet of recreational space and 40,000 square feet for health and wellness programs, serving as a hub for services devoted to students’ holistic well-being. Wohl is fired up about the project, encouraging others to offer their support and enthusiasm and sharing his professional expertise in the construction industry. “I’m thrilled with getting this opportunity to put my stamp on what I think is a real game changer for the University,” he says. “I would love for Syracuse to be known as not only a great university with great colleges, but also a place where students learn to cultivate and develop healthy lifestyles. The Arch is going to be the center of that activity.” —Amy Speach