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Chancellor's Message to SU Community - Sept. 28, 2009

September 28, 2009

Dear SU Community Members,

As we hit full stride in the new academic year, I want to share with you some reflections on the past year, and what we need to do this year and over the long term to maintain our momentum.

The past 12 months required all of our attention to meet specific goals to maintain the University’s momentum, and we believe we met them. We supported our students across the income spectrum with $167 million of institutional aid to recruit our most economically and socially diverse class ever and keep our returning students ‘Cuse. We hired an extraordinary cohort of 98 new faculty members. We remained a strong regional employer and mounted a salary program for lower-paid faculty and staff. The entire campus should be proud of how we came together in collaborative ways to achieve this, especially in such tumultuous times.

We know this past year’s immediate global economic crisis captured the nation’s and world’s attention, but that short-term turbulence and intense focus should not distract us from looking ahead. There are critical trends shaping the higher education environment that have been steadily building and demand our best thinking and creative action.

We know the college student of the future is more likely to live in the diverse urban centers of the south, southwest and west coast, and we are expanding our reach to bring them here. We know many students will come from middle-income families feeling the stress of college costs, and we have been restructuring our financial aid program to meet more need for more students. We know students want to study across fields and get prepared for the world by jumping right in, and we have been shaping dual degree and immersion programs tuned to our highly interconnected, ever-changing world. We know the public wants discoveries that make lives better, enable peace, sustain our environment, allow our children to thrive and our economy to prosper—and our faculty and staff are vigorously engaging those challenges.

We also know we are in an environment in which we simply cannot allow costs to escalate. So this year we need to be as disciplined and focused as possible to get ahead of these trends. We need to:

• Maintain our legacy as a place of opportunity by meeting needs of students and families across the income spectrum and galvanizing our communities of experts in key geographic markets to attract and engage students of the future;

• Be a strong employer with modern benefits and a competitive salary program that we can afford to sustain into the future; and

• Attract new external partners to support our discovery and engagement work on campus, nationally and globally, and create new opportunities to prepare our students for the world in the world.

We know that working together we can meet these goals. We are at the forefront of the national conversation about access and affordability as the Vice President’s visit here showed. We have increased our engagement in key regions (like L.A. and Atlanta) by creating new programs, such as the LA Semester, which offer current students incredible opportunities and establish a strong presence in these markets. As our SU communities of experts engage with us directly in their home regions in these recruitment efforts and new programs, we continue to build strong momentum for The Campaign for Syracuse University.

We’ve been talking for several years with deans and many senate committees about sustainable and flexible employee benefits, and now it is time for us to come together to tackle this issue. I am appointing a campus wide working group to ensure that the diversity of our campus is represented as we collaborate on this matter. I encourage you to read the working group’s charge and composition.

We are in deep collaborative partnerships with industry, community groups, non-profits and government that prepare students for the world, fuel faculty discovery and serve the public good. Collaboration is the key to our just-released Climate Action Plan to achieve carbon neutrality as an institution by 2040. In developing this plan, we met a key provision of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, to which SU and hundreds of other environmentally conscientious college and universities are signatories. The plan is a roadmap for the University community to reach this historic goal by adopting more sustainable ways of living and doing business, embedding sustainability in our curriculum, and leveraging new green technologies. It is those very technologies that are being developed by students and faculty at our Center of Excellence—whose stunning LEED platinum headquarters will formally open in December. Discovery and innovation is also rising all across campus, with sponsored research at an all-time high, increasing 30% over last year.

Hundreds of students and faculty are engaged in our global collaboration with JPMorgan Chase. Next week the company’s new Technology Center at Lyman Hall will formally open—a hub of activity of global enterprise technology with faculty and students working side-by-side with JPMorgan employees. This collaboration provides job opportunities for students so they can remain here after they graduate, and while they are still in school it offers amazing internships in international locales from Boston to Bangalore.

No matter how far the SU reach, there’s no place like home. Our new Orange Central celebration is drawing record numbers of SU family back, including our extraordinary Arents Award winners who are living the SU vision: women’s rights pioneer Karen DeCrow L'72; international trade expert Samuel Goekjian '52; acclaimed stage and film actor Frank Langella '59; College Football Hall of Famer and social activist Don McPherson '87; and award-winning author Joyce Carol Oates '60.

When our alumni return, they will see and hear how SU is leading a national movement of universities serving as anchor institutions in their communities. They will see SU’s role in the rejuvenation of Syracuse at the cultural institutions along the Connective Corridor and will hear how our faculty and more than 500 SU students are partners in transforming the lives of 21,000 Syracuse city schoolchildren, keeping them on track to thrive in college through Say Yes to Education. This anchor institution strategy is also bringing us national visibility, for example in the pages of the American Council on Education’s flagship magazine The Presidency, which features SU in its Fall 2009 issue.

I believe our positive momentum today gives us very good reason to be optimistic about tomorrow. But it will take all of us rolling up our sleeves to get the job done. Just like Coach Marrone, we want to make sure we are poised for the competition ahead of us, and able to fulfill our commitments to make a difference in the world. As the t-shirts in the Dome say, “It starts now!”


Nancy Cantor

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