Audrey Fertig Friedland G’49: Sharing a Commitment to Public Service
In 1948, Audrey Fertig Friedland was a 20-year-old graduate of Hunter College, with a bachelor's degree in political science and a desire to see the world beyond her Bronx neighborhood. A college counselor suggested Audrey further her studies by attending Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs for a master's degree. It was an opportunity that would have a significant impact on her life.
"The course was called PA300 and it was most unusual," recalls Audrey. "All of my classmates and I were there on fellowships or scholarships. Most of the men were veterans of World War II, and we were all together in class, two hours a day, six days a week." The group took one course at a time, each of which lasted one, two, or three weeks. The instructors were employees of federal, state, and municipal governments, and were allowed to take time off for brief periods to teach the classes. Her favorite instructor was Maxwell Dean Paul Appleby, who had held several federal posts, including serving as undersecretary of agriculture in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. At the end of six months, the class took finals on all of the courses.
"I could not have afforded that wonderful year on my own," Audrey says. "My room and board were covered, and I lived in a small house called Bickle at 107 University Avenue. For the first time since we entered World War II, SU welcomed foreign students and there were women not only from the United States, but France, Brazil, Panama, China, and Sweden. We shared a living room and kitchen—and threw some great parties! I totally enjoyed the relationship I had with my classmates and housemates—I celebrated my 21st birthday there."
That Syracuse University experience opened her eyes to the rest of the world and was a springboard to a career in public service. "I was prepared to take every Civil Service exam I could," she says. "I wound up working in the office of the deputy undersecretary of administration at the State Department in Washington, D.C., and eventually at the Voice of America in New York City." She then held management positions in the administrative offices of the Board of Higher Education in New York City, which included designing, installing, and managing the City University of New York's computerized personnel system. She retired in 1991, after 37 years of service.
Grateful for the education she received at Syracuse University, Audrey has established charitable gift annuities that will provide students with the same opportunity. "I would like to provide the same 'leg up' to others now and in the future," she says. "I hope to give enough to provide an annual scholarship in Public Administration in the Maxwell School. The annuities represent to me a great way to insure income for the rest of my life as well as a great way of paying back what I was given."
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