Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community: Over the last several months, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, administrators and trustees have engaged in constructive, collaborative and respectful dialogue. The Board of Trustees created a Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity…
Syracuse University Renews Commitment, Plans to Launch a Series of New Initiatives to Further Enhance Diversity Among Student Body, Faculty and Staff
Syracuse University will launch a series of new initiatives aimed at further enhancing diversity among the student body, faculty and staff. The renewed commitment comes on the heels of the diligent efforts of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion, which last spring provided its short-term recommendations to Chancellor Kent Syverud, who in turn shared them with the campus community.
Some of the short-term recommendations currently underway include:
- Removing physical barriers to access;
- Recruiting and hiring faculty from underrepresented populations;
- Establishing a University-wide Council on Diversity and Inclusion to support and inform the work of the (proposed) chief diversity officer and help build on existing plans to develop and implement a University-wide strategy on diversity and inclusion;
- Offering an essential level of free tutoring;
- Creating an online portal of diversity and inclusion programs and activities across campus; and
- Providing ongoing faculty and staff development on issues of race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, sexual harassment and religious beliefs.
University leaders, in collaboration with students, faculty and staff, continue to make progress on the Chancellor’s Workgroup short-term recommendations. To read more about the status of each short-term recommendation and to learn which University leaders are responsible for bringing each recommendation to fruition, please click here.
In fall 2015, Chancellor Syverud announced the creation of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion, a group of students, faculty and staff charged with developing solutions on how to create an even more diverse and inclusive climate at the University. The Chancellor’s Workgroup suggested that the short-term recommendations be implemented by the end of the 2016 calendar year.
Chancellor Syverud says this work is paramount. He speaks often of the lightning pace of cultural transformation in the digital era. The world—physically and culturally—is becoming a smaller place. For a university to command a true global presence, it is not enough to respond to change: Syracuse University must create and embrace change.
“Diversity is critical to 21st-century success,” says Chancellor Syverud. “The strength of this university, as a whole, comes from embracing the unique talents, history and perspective of every individual on this campus. I appreciate the workgroup’s hard work and tireless efforts. Their contributions, combined with continued partnership with students, faculty and staff, will make Syracuse University a better place in the long run. I am committed to bringing these short-term recommendations to life and look forward to future collaboration.”
Francine D’Amico, associate professor in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, co-chaired the Chancellor’s Workgroup with Barry L. Wells, special assistant to the Chancellor. D’Amico says creating a more diverse campus community demands the collective commitment of students, faculty and staff.
“Syracuse University is a special place because of the diversity of our community,” she says. “We have people from more than 120 countries and from all walks of life, each of whom has had unique life experiences. That variety contributes to an incredibly diverse living, learning and working environment for our students, faculty and staff. As we continue to evolve as a community, we must continue to take steps and implement processes that make the University welcoming and accessible to all people. We’ve accomplished much but we recognize there is always room to learn and grow.”
Removing physical barriers for all members of the Syracuse University community was among the many recommendations made by the Chancellor’s Workgroup. During the summer months, the Office of Campus Planning, Design and Construction upgraded a number of facilities across campus to increase access for everyone. These efforts included the addition of accessible bathrooms, auditorium seating and entrances, and a ramp along the Promenade to access the gateway sign in front of the Hall of Languages.
According to Pete Sala, vice president and chief facilities officer, this work is just the beginning of a campus-wide assessment, designed to identify any and all physical barriers to access in University buildings and on its grounds.
“Our team has been working diligently all summer, with a number of our partners, particularly in the Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion and Resolution Services, to make Syracuse University’s living, learning and working environment more accessible for all members of our campus community,” says Sala. “While there is still much work to do, I am proud of what the team has accomplished thus far and I look forward to continued collaboration as we collectively work to improve access for all.”
Another key recommendation from the Chancellor’s Workgroup: The University should increase the hiring and retention of faculty and staff of color, and other underrepresented groups. Of the 70 new full-time faculty members hired for the 2016-17 academic year, 31, or 44 percent are faculty of color.
“Diversity in our faculty is equally important as diversity in our student body,” says LaVonda Reed, associate provost for faculty affairs. “As more students from underrepresented groups pursue higher education, it is mission-critical that our faculty and our staff reflect the changing demographics as well as support and inspire a new generation of students to effect change and shape social transformation and progress. We continue to do important work in this area.”
For more than 146 years, in many disciplines, Syracuse University has been a trailblazing institution of higher education. In recent decades, Syracuse University has championed the teaching and study of civil rights, women’s rights, environmentalism, legal and cultural equality for LGBT Americans, and the quest for Native American rights and identity, to name a few reform movements. These efforts have prompted the establishment of many forward-looking academic departments, programs, institutes and research centers, including the Department of African American Studies, the Burton Blatt Institute, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the LGBT Resource Center, the Ska-nonh (Great Law of Peace Center), the Gebbie Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, the WellsLink Leadership Program and the Democratizing Knowledge Collective—to name only a few.
As the new academic year begins, Chancellor Syverud and Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly will continue to review the recommendations in consultation with the University Senate and other key stakeholders. Continue to visit https://news.syr.edu for up-to-date coverage regarding the progress of the short-term recommendations.