Chancellor Syverud Provides Update on Key University Initiatives

Addresses Student Life, Academic Affairs, Executive Searches and Fast Forward Syracuse at January University Senate Meeting

Syracuse Winter Welcome 2016

Chancellor Syverud greets new students during a Syracuse Winter Welcome 2016 event Saturday.

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud addressed the University Senate in a nearly full Maxwell Auditorium on Wednesday, Jan. 20. In his nearly 25-minute remarks, the Chancellor provided a comprehensive update on a number of items, including matters relative to student life, academic affairs, executive searches and Fast Forward Syracuse. Chancellor Syverud has been regularly delivering remarks at Senate meetings to provide an update on key University initiatives. This was his first to the University’s governing body since the start of 2016.

Below are the Chancellor’s remarks as prepared for the University Senate meeting:


Good afternoon.

I am pleased to be with you today at the beginning of a new semester. I would like to provide you with an update on the many exciting items which are continuously moving forward.

I’ll touch briefly on Student Life, Academic Affairs and Fast Forward Syracuse.

Student Life

Climate Assessment Update

The Climate Assessment Planning Committee, co-chaired by Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz and Libby Barlow, working with Dr. Susan Rankin from Rankin & Associates Consulting, has completed the design of the comprehensive SU Climate Assessment Survey. Pending approval of the University’s Institutional Review Board, the survey will be conducted online from Feb. 9-March 11. A broad-based marketing plan has been developed to inform undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff about the survey and encourage their participation. General information about the survey is posted at

The Climate Assessment was developed to help us assess our learning, living and working environment. We hope to receive input from as many of our campus community members as possible, so I encourage you all to take the survey and promote the survey with your colleagues, staff and students.

Winter Welcome

Syracuse University welcomed approximately 175 students to campus during Winter Welcome this past weekend. This included new first-year and transfer students, as well as Discovery students who spent their first semester studying abroad. On Saturday, all new students, their parents and families were welcomed at the Winter New Student Convocation, a special academic ceremony that signifies the beginning of the students’ career at Syracuse University. This is a new tradition, started in the winter of 2015. The convocation was followed by a Welcome Brunch, which gave new students and their families a chance to dine with academic administrators, staff and orientation leaders. The weekend also included academic advising sessions, information sessions and social events. I appreciate all those who took the time to volunteer and welcome our newest students and their families to campus.

Diversity Inclusion

On Oct. 22, I met with the members of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion and gave them their charge. I asked the members of the Workgroup to create an institutional diversity strategy and ensure that their discussions and deliberations were guided by the Academic Strategic Plan and also informed them that it should be our collective goal to sustain an inclusive, accessible campus of opportunity for a richly diverse student body, including international students, students with disabilities and veterans.

I tasked the Workgroup to build upon the diversity work done previously by various University committees and to continue the progress made last year by the Express Yourself workgroups.

The Workgroup has been meeting weekly since mid-October to take concrete steps to address all incidents and concerns related to diversity and inclusion on our campus. On Nov. 16, the Workgroup issued an Open Letter to the Syracuse community informing everyone that they had been meeting to address issues of concern, and were working toward developing solutions on how to further create a more diverse and inclusive climate for the Syracuse University community. The Workgroup invited community members to contact them directly with their concerns and policy recommendations for ways to build a climate of mutual respect and support for one another.

In addition, the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion invited all members of the SU community—students, faculty, staff and administrators—to share experiences, voice concerns and express hopes about diversity and inclusion at an event on the evening of Dec. 7 titled “Community Voices: Listening Session on Campus Diversity and Inclusion.” More than 100 members of the community came together for the event.

The Workgroup plans to convene twice a week during the spring semester so that they can continue to meet with more groups and individuals and give themselves sufficient time to deliberate on various opinions and viewpoints. The Workgroup is also planning on holding a campuswide “Visioning Session” on Feb. 10 that will allow more members of the community to help create the vision that we want to have to help move Syracuse University toward a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone. The Workgroup will then submit their recommendations to me on March 11.

Executive Searches

Vice Chancellor and Provost

Professor and Chair Charlie Driscoll and the Search Committee have continued to work on this search. Semi-finalist interviews were held just over a week ago. The search committee has selected four finalists and is moving forward with the next stage of the search process: the next round of interviews is scheduled for early February.

Executive Chief Information Officer

In December, Provost Liddy announced Sam Scozzafava as the Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technology. Scozzafava had served as the Interim CIO since June of 2014. The appointment was the result of a nationwide search, which yielded a competitive pool of candidates. We welcome Sam.

Dean of Hendricks Chapel

The process to conduct a review of Hendricks Chapel and identify the next Dean of Chapel is under way. Yesterday, I announced that Interim Dean Sam Clemence and Chief of Staff and Vice President Candace Campbell Jackson will co-chair the review committee. The review will be conducted this spring. The committee will review the chapel’s existing programs, facilities and finances, as well as current and emerging challenges and opportunities for enhancing its role as it relates to the Academic Strategic Plan. A national search for a new dean will follow in fall of this year. Gratitude to Sam Clemence for serving as interim through the fall semester.

College of Law Dean Search

The College of Law search committee tasked with recruiting and identifying the next dean has begun advertising for the position and accepting nominations from interested candidates. The committee is chaired by Professor LaVonda Reed.

Executive recruiting firm Korn Ferry is assisting in the search and is currently reviewing resumés and screening applicants. The search committee will then review the pool of potential candidates in late January and select the strongest applicants for round-one interviews. Those interviews are expected to begin mid-February.

The search committee continues to invite nominations for the position. A full position prospectus is posted on the dean search webpage.

Maxwell School Dean

Syracuse University has initiated a national search for a new dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The Maxwell School has recently launched a search website. Professor David Van Slyke is chair of the committee.

In December, the committee and search consultants met with many constituents across the college. They are nearing the final iterations for a position description. Tomorrow and on the 22nd, the committee will hold town hall-style meetings for faculty, staff and students.

College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean

The VPA Dean Search Committee successfully launched the week before Thanksgiving and met twice before the close of the fall semester. The job ad began circulating in national venues, and the search website launched, both prior to winter break. The committee is in the last stage of finalizing the position prospectus, which began circulating this week. Nominations, comments and queries are welcomed and encouraged via the search committee email address.

Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Search

The position was posted in mid-December. William Spelman Executive Search is assisting in the process and Bea Gonzalez is the chair. The firm indicated that the position has generated expressions of interest from senior level professionals all across the country. The committee is on track to identify 6-8 candidates for interviews with the search committee in early March. The finalist will be invited to campus for interviews and a formal presentation in late March. The goal is to have an announcement by mid-April. Two areas the new Senior Vice President for Student Affairs will be focused on include connections and coordination between academic affairs and student affairs, and services to and experiences of our rapidly expanding international student population.

Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School

Professor Peter Vanable assumed the role of Interim Vice President for Research this month, following Gina Lee-Glauser’s retirement in December. I would like to congratulate Gina for her dedication to research and to Syracuse University. Peter will continue as Interim Vice President for Research and Interim Dean of the Graduate School through the spring semester, during which a national search will be conducted for the combined role of Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School.

Fast Forward Initiatives

The Academic Strategic Plan is now actively engaged in the Implementation Phase, with six Working Teams, each comprised of 20+ faculty, staff and students—one team for each theme that emerged from last year’s Discovery Phase:

  • The Student Experience
  • Discovery
  • Internationalization
  • Commitment to Veterans
  • Innovation
  • One University

These teams have been deepening their understanding of the goals for their particular theme as detailed in last June’s report—Trajectory to Excellence. They are seeking more input as needed to decide how these goals can be reached, prioritizing actions, setting timelines, deciding on metrics of success and determining resources needed to achieve the goals.

The six Working Teams have continued meeting regularly, getting input from cross-campus constituencies and moving toward the goal of fully understanding which three or so initiatives their group will propose to be tackled first. On Jan. 25 and 26, each of the six Working Teams will present their top three ideas to the full Oversight Committee—seeking feedback and guidance before moving to the next phase.

The Oversight Committee, comprised of faculty, staff and students, is chaired by Shiu-Kai Chin, Andria Costello-Staniec, and Jerry Edmunds, and is tasked with coordinating across the six teams, as well as with the individual colleges and schools, each of which is also in the process of developing its own strategic plan. I want to thank everyone who has invested time in the development of the Academic Strategic Plan.

Campus Framework

Regarding the campus framework, the most common question I get about the campus framework, is when are we going to see the whole thing?

It’s been evolving to include some new developments, including what I’ll mention last, which is the National Veterans Resources Complex that came out of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, which is a major construction project.

It includes a promenade at University Place, which includes converting University Place from in front of Newhouse all the way to the Goldstein Center, as a primarily pedestrian, not vehicle traffic and opening it up in various ways.

It also includes concepts for what we’ll do about connecting up through various accesses the various parts of campus, including the access running all the way from the Life Sciences Complex to the West Campus.

And finally it includes, what’s the reason for some delay, which is figuring out what to do about the Dome.

I’ve received lots of questions about it, and there’s lots of great work that has been done by the committee, by Sasaki working with the committee, and by various offices on campus. We are continuing to talk with the Board of Trustees about what to roll out and when, including a planned meeting next week.

I do expect—that with Board approval—we’ll start rolling out much more detailed communication about the Campus Framework this semester and hopefully that happens sooner rather than later in the semester.

Travel Policy

I wanted to give you an update on work being done in regard to the Travel Policy. An announcement regarding the Travel Policy was distributed through SU Today on Jan. 14 to the campus community regarding the refinements and additional training sessions that are in place while the team continues its work.

Based on the input of the faculty in Oct. 7, faculty members were added to the committee, Kevin Du, Engineering; Alan Middleton, Physics; Robert Moreno, Falk College; Ramesh Raina, Biology; Sam Salem, Engineering; Scott Samson, Earth Sciences; and Jamie Winders, Geography, in addition Can Aslan, the Graduate Student Organization President. These faculty members all travel regularly and have vast knowledge of the needs of the faculty when traveling. Each member is actively engaged in the meetings every other Friday, and in frequent communications.

In December, a survey was distributed to the campus community. The committee is currently reviewing and compiling the results into a cohesive report to be analyzed and responded to. The survey was distributed to 1,158 full-time faculty, 468 part-time faculty, 3,484 staff members and 5,395 graduate and law students. The survey closed with 1,140 respondents. Responses were received from 286 full-time faculty, 31 part-time faculty, 574 staff members, 82 deans, directors, or department heads, 448 graduate/law students and 12 were classified as others. Many of the concerns appear to be about the pricing and service issues and lack of understanding of the system.

A community forum was conducted on Dec. 9, and was attended by almost 100 faculty, staff and students.

Monthly trainings are being conducted by the Purchasing Department and BTI, the University’s travel consultant, and Concur for travelers or travel arrangers, and will continue through June of 2016. The next one is Jan. 20 at 10 a.m., the February session on the 24th at 3:45 p.m.

The committee will be making a recommendation to the Operational Excellence Executive Committee by mid-semester. In the meantime the team has been making progress and is doing some test cases in Concur to do actual comparisons against other travel sites; consulting with peer institutions that utilize Concur to determine their issues and challenges and how they addressed them; and developing regular communications to submit to the campus community on the processes and status of the team.

Ongoing meetings and conversations are taking place with BTI to improve customer service. An amendment to the original agreement has been drafted to provide improved performance measures such as defined response time to travelers when making domestic or international flights and for telephone response times.

Regional Economic Development Council Update

During the last Senate meeting, I mentioned that Central New York Regional Economic Development Council traveled to Albany to discuss with state leaders the region’s proposal called “CNY Rising.”

This is our region’s proposal that was competing for one of three $500 million economic development fund awards.

In mid-December, Gov. Cuomo invited the council back to Albany for an awards ceremony where the three winning regions were announced.

I am pleased to report that our region was selected as one of the winners, along with the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier regions.

Since the award announcement, our regional council has been meeting to develop an implementation plan for the six signature initiatives identified in our winning proposal.

Once developed, the council will then submit the implementation plan to New York State officials to gain feedback and guidance for pursuing the initiatives.

You may remember that our six initiatives are:

  1. unmanned systems
  2. precision agriculture—controlled environment facilities
  3. global manufacturing and logistics hub
  4. government modernization
  5. an alliance for economic inclusion
  6. the creation of a National Veterans Resource Complex here at Syracuse University

The Veterans Complex involves construction of new facilities and expands upon the nationally recognized work of our Institute for Veterans and Military Families. The Veterans Complex will assist thousands of veterans across the region, New York State and the nation in the areas of job training, higher education, entrepreneurship, research and development, services and thought leadership. There is no other complex or program like this in the nation. It will be the premier one-stop shop for all things veterans and military-connected families related.

In support of the creation of the Veterans Complex, last month the University launched an international design competition aimed at identifying a world-class partner to conceptualize and design the new facility.

Leading the design competition is Michael Speaks, dean of our School of Architecture, and Ms. Martha Thorne, dean of the IE School of Architecture and Design in Madrid. Ms. Thorne also serves as the executive director of the Pritzker Prize—the architecture equivalent to the Nobel Prize.

To ensure all perspectives are represented during the competition, a selection committee comprised of faculty, staff, students and design professionals was formed.

Just last week, the selection committee chose three firms to compete for the design of the building.

These firms will be visiting the University in the coming weeks to get a sense of the campus environment and meet with University representatives to discuss the vision for the complex.

The firms will then take the information they gather and develop conceptual design plans that the committee will evaluate and ultimately choose one firm to construct the building.

Veterans-Focused Medical School Update

In our last meeting I talked about the ongoing effort to explore creation of a veterans-focused college of medicine.

You may remember that the idea is to have the first school of medicine focused primarily on attracting, educating and directly placing health care professionals into the Veterans Health Administration.

This concept would be designed, in part, to help VA hospitals and clinics around the country fill the current and projected workforce gap of nearly 22,000 medical professionals. It would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Much of the focus of the last update surrounded the work of the Faculty Advisory Committee chaired by Professor Sean O’Keefe of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

The Committee solicited input from faculty on how the University’s ongoing and future plans, programs, curricula and areas of research could benefit from or be impacted by the establishment of such a school.

I would like to reiterate my appreciation for the great work of the Committee and reinforce that its findings continue to play a role in the University’s decision-making process on whether or not to pursue a college of medicine.

Since the last update, University representatives have been focused on another key component of the feasibility analysis—gathering data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

This data gathering is focused on the VA’s expansion of Undergraduate and Graduate Medical Education and exploring potential collaboration opportunities.

Working with VA leadership, our representatives are examining numerous issues to include:

  • the level of capacity the VA has to collaborate with the University
  • what programs and potential site locations may exist for clinical rotations
  • what agreements and commitments would be required, from both a VA perspective and University perspective, to implement such a concept

The VA data-gathering phase is expected to be finished in the next few months. Once complete, the next phase of the exploratory effort is coalescing and analyzing all the information gathered so it can be considered as a whole.

There is much consultation and work to do over the coming months, but the medical school exploratory efforts are moving forward.

Those are the topics I wanted to bring to your attention and look forward to working with various faculty on the Diversity and Inclusion workgroup, the Provost search, discussing the travel policy and the faculty advisory committee on the medical school idea in the coming semester.


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