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Kent D. Syverud Named 12th Chancellor and President of Syracuse University
Kent D. Syverud, dean of the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, has been selected to be the 12th Chancellor and President of Syracuse University. The announcement was made today by Richard L. Thompson G’67, Chairman of the SU Board of Trustees, following a unanimous vote yesterday afternoon by the Board of Trustees, where members affirmed the unanimous recommendations of the Chancellor Search Committee and the Board’s Executive Committee.
Chancellor-designate Syverud has served as dean of the Washington University School of Law since 2006 and has nearly two decades of experience in academic leadership at premier national universities. He has a reputation as both a visionary and a strategic thinker with a keen ability to anticipate changes in the rapidly evolving higher education landscape. Beyond being credited with bringing the Washington University and Vanderbilt University law schools to greater national prominence, he has been a key member of the university leadership at both institutions. In these roles, he has worked on a broad spectrum of academic, diversity, fiscal, fundraising, human resources and strategic planning issues. He has earned the deep respect of colleagues across disciplines and is known for being a perceptive listener, skilled negotiator and wise policy maker.
“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,” says Chairman Thompson. “Throughout the selection process, he distinguished himself by the impressive range and depth of experience he brings from being a faculty member and academic leader at some of the nation’s best universities.”
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 also has broad experience partnering with others to address crucial issues facing the nation and the world. He currently serves as one of two independent trustees of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust, a $20 billion fund created to compensate victims of the 2010 BP oil spill. Chancellor-designate Syverud has led several cross-sector partnerships, including a groundbreaking collaboration between Washington University and the Brookings Institution.
He will succeed Chancellor Nancy Cantor, who will become Chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark in January, and will begin his tenure as Chancellor on January 13, 2014.
“Syracuse University is an inspiring institution,” says Chancellor-designate Syverud. “One of its most striking characteristics is the way that every constituency—faculty, students, staff, alumni—exudes a balance of humility and ambition, which, I believe, is the essence of what has enabled SU to be so boldly innovative and achieve such great things throughout its history. I am honored by the opportunity to lead SU, determined to help every part of it achieve its potential and, together, carry forward this remarkable legacy.”
Chancellor-designate Syverud will meet and address the SU community later today, at 1 p.m., at Hendricks Chapel. The event will be streamed live via the web at www.syr.edu.
“Kent is a superb choice as Syracuse’s next leader,” says Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “He understands that the genius of SU as an institution is the way we interweave excellence and access, liberal and professional education, campus and community, local and global, creating an ever-changing fabric together that is both brilliant and resilient.”
Kris Byron, an associate professor in the Whitman School of Management, faculty affiliate in the Psychology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences and one of eight faculty members on the Chancellor Search Committee, is impressed with Chancellor-designate Syverud’s qualifications on many levels. “Kent has extensive experience as a faculty member and faculty leader. He has a track record of strengthening academic excellence and understands the importance of research to doing that. At the same time, he gets the big picture of the world of higher education and possible challenges to it,” says Byron. “He also has a personal style that is open and engaging and that demonstrates high integrity. He is just a remarkably intelligent and insightful person.”
“Something that came across strongly during the search was that Chancellor-designate Syverud is student oriented,” says Ivan Rosales-Robles ’15, one of two undergraduate student representatives on the Chancellor Search Committee. “His genuine interest in the student perspective and his organic ability to connect were obvious as he spoke to the committee about the need to have deep and meaningful conversations with students and the important role that students must play in moving SU forward.”
Chancellor-designate Syverud 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.
A native of Upstate New York, Chancellor-designate Syverud was born and raised in Irondequoit, a town on Lake Ontario neighboring the City of Rochester. After attending Irondequoit High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 1977, a law degree magna cum laude from the University of Michigan in 1981 and a master’s degree in economics from Michigan in 1983.
Prior to becoming dean of the School of Law at Washington University, he served as dean of Vanderbilt Law School from 1997 to 2005. He served as associate dean for Academic Affairs and was on the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Law; an associate with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering; and a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Chancellor-designate Syverud continued to teach several courses a year while serving as dean of Washington University School of Law. In addition to his scholarship and teaching, he recently completed a term as Washington University’s associate vice chancellor of Washington, D.C., Programs. Chancellor-designate Syverud also has served as a court-appointed mediator and a special master for the federal courts, involving litigation on insurance, re-insurance and settlement issues.
A member of the American Law Institute and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, Chancellor-designate Syverud served as chair of the Council of the American Bar Association’s Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. He also has served as president of the American Law Deans’ Association, chair of the Board of the Law School Admission Council and president of the Southeastern Association of American Law Schools.
The search for SU’s 12th Chancellor began last fall, with the creation of the Search Committee, which was led by Trustee Vice Chair Hon. Judge Joanne Alper ’72. The Committee was composed of trustees, faculty, students, staff, alumni, a dean’s representative and a representative from the Chancellor’s cabinet. A comprehensive process of community engagement occurred, including a campus-wide survey and several open forums that were also held to allow members of the campus community, local community and alumni the opportunity to provide input. The Committee’s work culminated in recommending finalists for the Board to consider. More information about the search process can be found at syr.edu/chancellorsearch/.