The Syracuse Student Start-up Accelerator, an initiative that helps Central New York college and university students start for-profit and nonprofit ventures, will receive $1.7 million that has been pledged to the Raymond F. von Dran Fund. The funding brings not only sustainability to the initiative and seed funding to student ventures, but an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to rename the Accelerator in Ray’s honor.

Ray von Dran served as dean of the iSchool at Syracuse University from 1995 to 2007, when he passed away. Ray was a long-time academic entrepreneur who started many innovative programs in higher education and supported student innovation and entrepreneurship at Syracuse University.
Gisela von Dran, Ray’s widow and director emerita of the M.S. in Library and Information Science program and an iSchool Board of Advisors member, started the Raymond F. von Dran Fund shortly after Ray passed away in July 2007.

Now, in honor of Ray, the Student Startup Accelerator will undergo a name change, and all faculty, students, staff, and alumni at Syracuse University are invited to participate in a competition for the naming. A $1,000 first place cash prize will be awarded to the individual who submits the winning name, which should signify the energy and excitement that Ray had for supporting student ventures. Four $250 honorable mention awards will also be given. The deadline for submission is March 20th and all submissions should be emailed to