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New SU Chancellor announces theme for yearlong inaugural activities: ‘Exploring the Soul of Syracuse’
New SU Chancellor announces theme for yearlong inaugural activities: ‘Exploring the Soul of Syracuse’August 02, 2004Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
Cantor asks campus, community to collaborate
In her inaugural year as Chancellor and President of Syracuse University, Nancy Cantor is inviting the SU campus and Central New York community to engage in conversation and collaboration around the theme “Exploring the Soul of Syracuse,” a yearlong discussion of how the University views itself, how it fits into its local and extended communities, and how SU and its partners can work together to achieve their goals.
Cantor outlines the theme in her first formal communication as Chancellor, an Aug. 1 letter to all SU students, faculty and staff; local retirees and emeritus faculty; and alumni. The letter announces her formal installation ceremony-which will be held as a public event on the morning of Nov. 5 in the Carrier Dome-and discusses her vision for the inaugural year.
“Many people on campus have suggested that we use the opportunity of the inauguration to go beyond the Nov. 5 installation,” she writes. “I hope we can use the coming year as a chance to collaborate, to forge new relationships, to spotlight our University, and to explore new opportunities.”
There will be a planning session of deans and senior administrators in August to address Cantor’s request that the campus and community gather for symposia, lectures, performing arts events and meetings to explore four key questions:
- What do we mean by “liberal education?”
- What critical societal issues can we tackle?
- How can Syracuse build on its unique historical landscape, which has served as an arena in the struggle for the rights of women, slaves and Native Americans?
- In a society where knowledge is power, how should the University serve as a power broker?
“Our different understandings will add richness to the whole, especially if we talk and listen to each other,” writes Cantor. “We will structure some intentionally provocative cross-talk and embed our strengths within conversations that eschew the physical and psychological boundaries of our disciplines, our positions, our University and our city.”
The conversation will culminate in a series of high-profile events in April and a major address from the Chancellor about the year’s outcome. In addition, the selection process for the speaker at SU’s 151st Commencement will take into account the inaugural themes.
“Syracuse University has a critical role to play as a public good in Syracuse and beyond,” says Cantor. “We have the obligation, and the talent and resources, to do several things-to address fundamental questions about higher education, to work on critical societal problems, and to preserve, expand and create new knowledge. We can, and we will, change lives.”
Cantor’s letter expresses her desire to involve a diverse audience of alumni, community partners, faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders in inaugural activities. To that end, she has appointed an inaugural steering committee co-chaired by Hendricks Chapel Dean Thomas V. Wolfe and Mary Jane Nathan, executive director of special events, with representation from SU students, faculty and staff.
The steering committee will oversee the work of two sub-committees, which will begin meeting Aug. 20 to plan the Nov. 5 installation and coordinate the rest of the year’s events. Further plans for “Exploring the Soul of Syracuse” will be announced as they develop.
“‘Soul of Syracuse’ means many things and extends far into the world beyond our campus. We’re taking advantage of that flexibility to make this a year of very productive discussion,” says Wolfe. “To make it work, we’ll need ideas from every direction. We are counting on great diversity of participation to find those ideas and make them happen.” According to Wolfe, one of the steering committee’s first tasks will be to create a process by which people from all parts of SU’s extended community can offer input on the inaugural year.
“We envision the planning and execution of the inaugural year as a very transparent process and a very inclusive one,” says Nathan. “It is absolutely critical to Chancellor Cantor and to the entire University that all of our communities-whether they are students, educators, staff, local partners or international colleagues-feel a sense of ownership in this year’s events.”
An inaugural Web site is currently in development and will be launched as planning for the year moves ahead.