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Scholarship in Action En Route

April 26, 2011

Dear Members of the SU Community:

As we approach the conclusion of another successful academic year, we’re not only reaching the end of 2010-11, but marking a decade of work at Syracuse University to build on the 2001 Academic Plan and our vision of Scholarship in Action that followed it.

The Academic Plan and Scholarship in Action have leveraged what makes Syracuse so special – our powerful combination of extraordinary professional schools and pinnacles of excellence across the liberal arts - positioning us as a nimble and agile research institution in an increasingly diverse world where the problems are complex and the potential for solutions requires all hands on deck. That’s what both Scholarship in Action and the Academic Plan are about, and I just want to take this moment to recognize very substantial investments and progress that have been made during this time.

All of our progress has been undergirded by multi-year investments in our faculty and facilities, and diversification and significant growth in our portfolio of sponsored research funding and support. During the past decade, we have increased the number of full-time faculty by 20% and invested $365 million in research/academic facilities and collaborative venues. Reflective of SU’s agility and entrepreneurial focus, our research portfolio—which has grown by 94% in the past 10 years, draws from a wide array of funding sources—federal, state, and local government, corporations, and foundations (these metrics are now available on a new section of our website, Sponsored Research Trends).

While progress and success can be seen all across the University, below are a few examples as illustrating the five core principles of Scholarship in Action.

Strategically Invest in Our Strengths—Leveraging our map of excellence, we have created a set of 11 interdisciplinary, highly collaborative research clusters that are breaking down traditional silos to address major issues from global security, biomaterials, and disabilities to inclusive education, environmental sustainability, entrepreneurship, and the role of the arts, technology and design in revitalizing metropolitan America. This cluster framework includes faculty leadership appointments, targeted investment from central and school/college resources, cross-disciplinary degree programs, opportunity for student engagement, and cross-sector partnerships that enrich research and advance scholarly excellence.

Break Down Disciplinary Silos—Looking beyond traditional silos and toward interdisciplinary collaboration is at the core of several of these research clusters that are focused on science and technology. At the Biomaterials cluster, faculty and students from the LC Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Arts and Sciences, along with colleagues from SUNY-ESF and Upstate Medical University, are developing state-of-the-art medical devices and biologically-compatible materials that help treat diseases and injuries. The Global Enterprise Technology cluster brings together iSchool, LC Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Whitman School of Management faculty, who are working with technologists from JPMorgan Chase to develop an interdisciplinary and experiential learning curriculum that is transforming how technologists are trained and educated and engaged in applied research projects. Faculty in the Physics cluster are leading the U.S. effort at the Large Hadron Collider – the world's most powerful particle accelerator—to study the aftermath of the Big Bang and how matter survived to build our universe.

Engage Beyond Our Boundaries—In a world made ever smaller by pervasive technology and constant communication, issues of security, conflict resolution, and diplomacy—as well as their interplay with the judiciary, politics, and media—become increasingly vital to promoting peace, justice, and democracy. Faculty members and students across the Maxwell School, Newhouse, College of Arts and Sciences, and College of Law who are involved in the Citizenship and Governance cluster grapple with precisely these issues. Their interdisciplinary work spans the local, national, and global levels, often engaging the humanities as a lens for analyzing human conflict and leveraging the tools of public diplomacy and reconciliation.

Collaborate Broadly—That kind of cross-disciplinary engagement gets even broader in our Collaborative Design cluster. Led by the School of Architecture and the College of Visual and Performing Arts, it includes six other SU schools and colleges. It focuses on art and design, technology, and sustainability and how these disciplines can help address the national challenges of transforming older industrial cities, such as Syracuse. The cluster taps resources all along the Connective Corridor from SU’s Light Work gallery to Syracuse Stage to the Community Folk Art Gallery and to the Warehouse and Near Westside. Architects, engineers, geographers, technologists, entrepreneurs, artists, and designers are collaborating with industry, government, non-profits, and residents, using the arts and design to create signature urban experiences, rejuvenate civic life, and restore Syracuse’s unique historical leadership of cultural innovation.

Unleash the Power of Inclusive Talent—A history of national and international leadership also is the foundation of our Disabilities cluster. Drawing on prodigious strengths of the College of Law, the School of Education, the College of Human Ecology, the Maxwell School, the Taishoff Center on Inclusive Higher Education, the Burton Blatt Institute, and the Center on Human Policy, this cluster focuses on employment, entrepreneurship, economic empowerment, community participation, and civil rights for individuals with disabilities. It also integrates the nationally recognized Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, led by the Whitman School.

Integral to all of this extraordinary interdisciplinary research is educating the next generation of leaders, and partnering with corporations, foundations, local residents, global collaborators, and non-profits to demonstrate the value of higher education as a public good. This is especially crucial at a time when universities must engage in the world and not depend solely on one avenue of external partnership or support. The entire SU community should rightly be proud of our map of excellence and we are optimistic that the many substantive partnerships we have formed will continue to make a difference in the world.


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Nancy Cantor

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