Joseph Strasser ’53, G’58, H’20 was just 8 years old in 1940 when he and his brother escaped Nazi persecution on a Kindertransport rescue boat. Two years earlier, the Third Reich had annexed their home country, Austria. Their father, Paul,…
Chancellor’s Letter to Alumni
“Therefore, Be it Resolved, that the Syracuse University Community condemns these vicious attacks and joins in mourning the immense loss suffered by the people of this great nation.”
From Resolution of the University Senate September 12, 2001
We at Syracuse University have thought a great deal about you, our alumni, since the terrible events of September 11, 2001. I know that many of you were directly affected by these events. Some of our alumni were among the victims and some are missing.
In this time of grief and uncertainty I want to reassure you that Syracuse, though not unscathed by the tragedy, has taken timely and appropriate measures to respond to it: tightening campus security, disseminating continually updated information about the crisis, expanding counseling services, and providing opportunities for prayer, discussion, and service.
I am proud of the way the campus community has responded to the tragedy. Since September 11, full updates on campus activities have been posted regularly on our web site (http://sunews.syr.edu). Here are some of highlights. We asked faculty to hold classes as usual, responding flexibly to students’ needs to talk about the tragedy or deal with personal crises. Several buildings remained open 24 hours a day to provide gathering places. Emergency contact information and telephones were made available for students to make local or long-distance calls. Radios and television monitors broadcasting the latest news were set up across campus. Daily briefings were held in Hendricks Chapel to inform the University community of campus activities. The chaplains of Hendricks Chapel and counselors made themselves available around the clock. There were blood drives (some had to be extended to accommodate all the donors). Collection bins overflowed with socks and T-shirts for rescue workers. Some SU personnel traveled to New York City to assist in the recovery process. At Lubin House there was a memorial service, and on campus there were interfaith services and candlelight vigils and “Evenings of Compassion.” White ribbons were distributed as a symbol of support for the victims of the attacks. Sports events and concerts and plays were canceled. There were open forums and opportunities to express emotions by writing or drawing or just talking. Fund raising projects sprang up everywhere, including a Syracuse University September 11 Fund to assist our students who were directly affected by attacks. Similar activities took place at all our international centers.
In the midst of such turmoil it has been important for us to remember and recommit to our essential mission, which is the pursuit of truth. I have asked the campus community to refrain from rushing to judgment on who may be responsible for these acts of terrorism. We must not blame any person or group on the basis of religion or nationality or color. Certainly the University will not tolerate any hate crimes in response to the acts. It is only in the context of an orderly, respectful environment that the pursuit of truth can proceed unhindered.
To that end, we are creating a variety of forums in which all views can be freely expressed. For example, a committee chaired by David Rubin, dean of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, is developing a series of programs for this semester in which faculty from various fields can lead us in discussions.
Many of our faculty members have special expertise to contribute to the resolution of the crisis, and they have been sharing it with readers and viewers throughout the world. Among them are Joan Deppa, Robert Thompson, Dow Smith, Steve Davis, and Hub Brown of the Newhouse School, with expertise on the relationship between terrorism and communications; Social Work professor Ken Corvo, on the social effects of terrorism; psychologist Brian Mullen, on mob psychology, intergroup hostility, and attitudes toward “outgroups,” such as immigrants; structural engineer Riyad Aboutaha, on the rebuilding of damaged buildings; Maxwell professors and former ambassadors Goodwin Cooke, on the Middle East including Afghanistan, and Melvyn Levitsky, on terrorism and international security; and Alice Honig, professor emerita of child development, on how to talk to children about terrorism.
As an institution, we know that the world is changed, and we have begun to plan for an uncertain future. We strive to make this as safe a place as possible; we will plan for fiscal tightening if this should be necessary. And we will ensure that the pursuit of truth is not compromised. In other words, drawing on the rich intellectual and spiritual resources of this community, we will do what needs to be done, and in the process grow even stronger. I greatly appreciate your continuing loyalty and support of your University.
Kenneth A. Shaw
P.S. So that you can find out what we know to date about affected alumni, we have created the following web site: http://sunews.syr.edu/lists.asp. If you have information to share or concerns to express, you are welcome to call the Office of Alumni Relations at 1-800-782-5867.