Message from Board Chairman Richard L. Thompson

Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community,

I am writing on behalf of the University’s Board of Trustees with an important update regarding the Chancellor Search process. As you know, since last year we have been engaged in a rigorous and comprehensive national search to identify SU’s next chancellor. I want to extend profound thanks to Chancellor Search Committee Chair Hon. Judge Joanne Alper '72 for leading such a highly collaborative and inclusive process. I also want to thank the members of the Search Committee for their diligent work in service to the institution, and all who participated in this process, bringing the thoughts and aspirations of all of SU’s constituencies—students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and partners—to bear on this vital decision.

I am pleased to inform you that in a meeting yesterday afternoon, the Board of Trustees, affirming the unanimous recommendations of the Chancellor Search Committee and the Board’s Executive Committee, selected Kent D. Syverud, Dean of the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, to be the 12th Chancellor and President of Syracuse University.

Chancellor-designate Syverud is exceptionally well prepared to guide SU as we seek to build on our tremendous momentum and continue to raise SU’s profile while fulfilling its proud legacy. Throughout the selection process, he distinguished himself by the impressive range and depth of experience he brings from having been a faculty member and academic leader at some of the nation’s best universities, by his demonstrated leadership on some of the most important issues facing higher education and the world today, and by his profoundly thoughtful and collaborative spirit.

Chancellor-designate Syverud has a reputation as both a visionary and strategic thinker with a keen ability to anticipate changes in the rapidly evolving higher education landscape. Beyond being credited with bringing the Washington and Vanderbilt University law schools to greater national prominence, he has been a key member of the university leadership teams at both, working on a broad spectrum of academic, diversity, fiscal, fundraising, human resources, and strategic planning issues, through which he earned deep respect across the disciplines and administrative departments for being a perceptive listener, skilled negotiator, and wise policy maker.

His impressive scholarly contributions, reflecting the faculty appointments he has held at outstanding institutions, such as Michigan, Vanderbilt, and Washington University, include numerous articles published in prestigious journals and service as editor of a leading journal in his field. The high esteem in which he is held by his peers is evident in the numerous national leadership positions in which he has served, including on regional and national accrediting bodies and evaluation teams.

Chancellor-designate Syverud’s scholarship draws upon his exceptional professional experience, from having been a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to having worked in one of the nation’s most prestigious law firms. He is a stellar public scholar who partners with others to address crucial issues facing the nation and the world, currently serving as one of only two trustees appointed to oversee the $20 billion trust established to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He has led successful efforts to forge cross-sector partnerships, including a groundbreaking university-wide collaboration with the Brookings Institution.

Chancellor-designate Syverud is a dedicated, award-winning teacher, as well as a leader in tackling some of the greatest challenges facing higher education today, including curricular reform and the strategic use of technology in teaching to assure both high quality and high value. He is an academic innovator who introduced the first fully online Master of Laws (LL.M.) program in the nation and developed new programs in key geographies, such as Washington, D.C., and New York City. We are fortunate that Chancellor-designate Syverud will be able to begin his tenure as Chancellor on January 13, 2014.

For him, this will be a homecoming, as he grew up just down the Thruway in the Rochester suburb of Irondequoit. He and his wife, Dr. Ruth Chen, are the parents of three grown sons: Steven, Brian, and David. Dr. Chen, an accomplished environmental toxicologist, will hold a Professor of Practice appointment at SU. Her work has been funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and she currently is a faculty member in Washington University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, where she has led both a professional engineering master’s program and an international education program.

I invite you to join me in our community’s first opportunity to welcome Kent and Ruth to their new home by gathering in Hendricks Chapel today at 1 p.m. More information about Chancellor-designate Syverud and the Hendricks Chapel event, which will be streamed live via the web, is available at

I hope that you will be able to join us for this exciting moment in SU’s history as we celebrate our University and our new leader.


Richard L. Thompson
Chairman, Board of Trustees

Share this story
Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+