Statement by SU Board Chairman Richard L. Thompson

As all of you know, we have been blessed to have a dynamic and engaged leader guiding our University for the past eight years. Clearly, Nancy brought to SU everything that we wanted and needed in a Chancellor. Her vision and leadership have exceeded all expectations. She has enabled SU to achieve new heights by breaking down silos that constrained us in so many ways in the past, unleashing our tremendous untapped potential.

Nancy has helped us to grasp the essence of SU’s distinctive greatness—that Scholarship in Action really does capture what this university is about. The many things we’ve been able to accomplish during her tenure testify to that.

Perhaps most obvious: She has led us through an aggressive capital campaign so ambitious that some thought its goal was too high. But she had confidence when others didn’t, and showed us that even the biggest global financial crisis in nearly 100 years could not stop us raising more that SU had in the past two campaigns combined.

But fundraising alone doesn’t begin to tell the story of what has been happening at SU. Under Nancy’s leadership, SU has secured its legacy as a place of opportunity and engagement. We live it as an anchor institution in this community. Nancy fully recognized that the fortunes of the city and university are tied together. By creating the Warehouse, and partnering in so many ways with the city and community on new engagement initiatives, Nancy has shown us that engaging the community in the many ways we are now doing actually makes us better at what we do. It makes for faculty research that is better and makes a bigger impact, and it makes for better education for our students—education for the world, in the world.

As you know very well, this commitment to opportunity extends well beyond Syracuse. We are building two-way streets strategically between SU and geographies of opportunity across the nation and around the world. We’re building up our capacities in places where we’ve long been, such as New York City and Washington, D.C. We’ve broken new ground in places like L.A., Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago. And we’ve increased the number, range, and depth of connections from Europe and Asia to South America—the kinds of places where it is essential for SU to be to achieve our goal of educating global citizens who are prepared to lead.

All of this has been done with the goal of increasing opportunities for our students to test their knowledge in the world and for our faculty to build networks for collaboration to increase the impact of their work.

By all of these means, Nancy has helped us position SU as a place that the diverse next generation of students wants to be. Our recruitment footprint is expanding in ways that match the changing demographics of the nation, and at the same time our admissions profile is stronger than ever and getting stronger.

Overall, Scholarship in Action has resonated powerfully across higher education, as well as across the public, private and nonprofit sectors. We hear the buzz from colleagues who want to know about the exciting things we are doing at Syracuse. We see the difference it has made in our ability to attract faculty of the first rank to come to Syracuse, both because of our vision and the new resources we’ve been able to put behind faculty recruitment. We have become a partner of choice for major nonprofits and corporations whose attention was difficult to attract before.

But I think that most important of all that Nancy has done for Syracuse University is to help us become an institution that truly knows itself. She has not only helped us understand the distinctive greatness of our university, but to see the trajectory that we must continue to set for ourselves. I can’t think of a greater gift or a more powerful tool for assuring our continued success well into the future.

As Board chair, I could not have asked for a more thoughtful and energetic partner in looking out for the best interests of this institution. I am deeply grateful for the total commitment to SU that Nancy has exhibited, day in and day out. True to that ethic, she is now giving us the opportunity to plan carefully for the future and continue to build on our unprecedented successes.

Nancy, on behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, thank you for what you have done for this great University, and for what you will continue to accomplish during the next three semesters.

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