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Meet Atlanta’s New Regional Council Member

Brian McNeil and Family

For Brian McNeil ’05, G’10 it’s hard to think of an aspect of life that doesn’t have a Syracuse University connection. “SU changed my life in more ways than I ever thought possible,” says the Dunwoody, Georgia, resident. “Everything from the first job I got after graduation, to my present career path, to my most meaningful friendships can all be attributed to my time at Syracuse.”

Several factors drew McNeil to SU. He fell in love with campus during two separate visits, and SU’s generous financial aid package put the school at the top of his parents’ list. Surprisingly though, McNeil says the acceptance “letter” made the greatest impression on him. “It was really an entire folder of material welcoming me to the SU family. It was plainly evident from everything in the package that SU wasn’t just letting me attend but truly wanted me to attend. Syracuse had already begun regarding me as one of its own.”

As a student McNeil balanced the demands of a dual major in economics and accounting with his commitments to the SU track and field and cross-country teams. He was co-captain of the cross-country team senior year and led the squad to a Top 5 finish in the Big East—a conference known for its national strength in competitive distance running.

McNeil’s fondest SU memory, however, is tied to a different sport. He recalls leaving the Carrier Dome in April 2003 just after Jim Boeheim and the men’s basketball team won Syracuse its first NCAA Championship. “About 10,000 fellow students and I had just watched the game on some big screens in the Dome and were making our way down the Crouse College stairway as the snow began to fall. From the top of the steps I could already hear the triumphant roar coming from Marshall Street,” he says. “Everyone was exuding sheer joy unlike anything I’d ever seen. It was one of those moments that not only made me glad to be a member of the Syracuse family, but just plain glad to be alive.”

After graduation McNeil began his accounting career with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). While working full time for the firm, he chipped away at a master’s degree in accounting.

In 2010, after nearly five years in the International Tax/Quantitative Solutions practice at PwC, McNeil left the world of public accounting to return to graduate school and pursue his passion—philosophy. He earned his second master’s degree from Boston College.

Today McNeil teaches Introduction to Philosophy at the University of West Georgia and is working on his PhD at the University of Georgia, Athens. And at every phase of his career, the SU network has made a profound impact. “So many people have helped get me where I am today, through a favorable recommendation, a critical introduction, or just being able to boast the three SU degrees on my résumé,” McNeil says. “There are very few things, if any, that have positively affected my life as much as Syracuse University.”

In addition to teaching, studying, and chasing his 10-month-old son around the house, McNeil is committed to supporting SU’s regional efforts as the newest member of the Atlanta Regional Council.

He also supports the University as a whole, through annual giving, and considers it a moral duty to give back. “The scholarships I received made my SU education possible. I’ll never forget the gracious individuals who provided those scholarships, and I’m proud to return the favor,” he says. “Initially, as new alum, I felt intimidated by the occasional fundraising request, because I was somewhat embarrassed at how little I could give. I soon realized, however, that anything is better than nothing, which is why I try to give just a little bit more every year. After all, the tortoise wins the race, right?”