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…
Chancellor Syverud Addresses October Meeting of University Senate
Syracuse University’s recent leadership transitions, the Campus Framework, diversity and inclusion, and the Climate Assessment Survey were among a handful of topics Chancellor Kent Syverud addressed during his University Senate appearance Wednesday afternoon in Maxwell Auditorium.
Speaking in front of the University’s governing body, the Chancellor began his address by remembering Xiaopeng “Pippen” Yuan, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, who was tragically killed in an off-campus shooting on Friday, Sept. 30.
Below are the Chancellor’s remarks as prepared for the University Senate meeting:
First, I note that it is the University’s practice now to acknowledge that Syracuse University sits on native lands at all major public events. Since the University Senate is an official University body, I believe at least once a year someone should treat its meeting as a major public event. So I start by saying I acknowledge with respect the Onondaga Nation, the indigenous people whose ancestral lands we are now on.
I will keep my remarks brief today. Following me will be Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly, who I understand is going to address multiple topics, including Whitman School transitions, Title IX issues, her work with University Senate committees and the Academic Strategic Plan.
Today, I will briefly update you on leadership transitions, Campus Framework issues, diversity and inclusion Efforts, the climate survey, and if there is time I will take questions. I expect that at November’s University Senate Meeting, I will brief you on budget endowment and advancement.
Death of Our Student
I want to take a moment to acknowledge the recent death of one of our students. On Sept. 30, Xiaopeng Yuan, a junior enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences studying mathematics, was killed off-campus in a shooting in the Town of DeWitt. This crime continues to be actively investigated by the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, and supported by DeWitt Police and Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety.
The Syracuse University community continues to mourn the loss of Xiaopeng and extend support to his friends and family. We have assisted Xiaopeng’s parents in their travel to Syracuse and their efforts to understand what happened to their son. Yesterday, Ruth and I met with the family, along with Pat Burak and Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences continue to be with Xiaopeng’s family and friends. This has been a time of great sadness for all of us. I came here directly from the memorial service at Hendricks Chapel.
There have been significant changes in University Leadership since commencement. Michele Wheatly has started as provost and is doing a terrific job. John Wildhack, Syracuse University alum and long-time ESPN executive, began as our director of athletics in August.
Also, since the last Senate meeting I attended, Lou Marcoccia, now former executive vice president and chief financial officer, announced his retirement.
For more than 40 years, Lou has been a vital contributor to nearly every major initiative at the University. He dedicated much of his career to Syracuse; he has worked tirelessly to make this a better place, and he has been a great steward of the University—both as a leader and as an alumnus. Lou had a wide portfolio of responsibilities and his retirement is an occasion to assess the structure of BFAS going forward.
Chief Financial Officer Search
On Sept. 27, the members of the CFO search committee were announced.
They include: Steve Barnes, Candace Campbell Jackson, Can Isik, Ed Pettinella, Michael Tick and Michele Wheatly. I will chair this search.
Korn Ferry will be our search firm, led by Ken Kring and Beau Lambert. Ken and Beau were on campus the week of the Oct. 3 to meet with the committee and gather information from deans and executive team members.
The position description was posted last week (Oct. 12), and we anticipate a first round of interviews to follow shortly after the November board meeting.
I hope to identify a finalist in this search by Dec. 1.
Hendricks Chapel Search
The search committee for the next Hendricks Chapel dean was announced on Friday, Sept. 30.
This is a nine-member committee, co-chaired by Sam Clemence and Candace Campbell Jackson, and it includes: David Van Slyke (dean), Andrew Clark (staff), Daniel Feng (staff), Rabbi Leah Fein (staff), Mara Julin (student), Martha Sutter (faculty) and Joan Nicholson (BOT).
This search follows a seven-month review of existing programs, facilities and finances. Witt/Kieffer will be the search firm.
Newly announced Senior Vice President for Enrollment & Student Experience
Newly announced Senior Vice President for Enrollment and the Student Experience Dolan Evanovich is on campus this week (Oct. 12-14), meeting with his leadership team and beginning preliminary admissions conversations with several school and college deans. Dolan comes to us from The Ohio State University, where he is credited with significantly enhancing academic quality and diversity and inclusion enrollment goals. He starts Dec. 5.
I have appointed Cathryn Newton as Special Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost for Faculty Engagement. In this role, Cathryn will be reporting directly to Provost Wheatly and me and be responsible for:
- partnering with the University’s Office of Research to grow the University’s involvement, achievements and reputation in the area of undergraduate research;
- collaborating with Provost Wheatly and Pete Sala, vice president and chief facilities officer, to help refine the Campus Framework in meaningful ways to further address the academic and research needs of faculty and students, and
- working with the SUNY-ESF leadership to identify several areas of collaboration, including research and faculty partnerships that support the Academic Strategic Plan.
All of this work supports both the academic strategic plan and thus our campus framework.
Campus Framework Updates
As I mentioned, one of Professor Cathryn Newton’s stewardship responsibilities in her new role announced today as Special Advisor for Faculty Engagement is to work directly with Pete Sala, chief facilities officer, and Provost Wheatly to ensure the decisions we make going forward with the framework address the academic and research needs of students and faculty. A lot of work and a lot of communication have already occurred on the Campus Framework issue since we last met. Specifically, I was told that at the last Senate meeting people wanted to know about the cost of the University Place Promenade.
Last week, the University announced a $1 million naming gift to support the University Place Promenade. The gift was made by Steve Einhorn, a 1964 graduate of the School of Architecture and his wife, Sherry, a 1965 graduate of the School of Education. Steve has served on the Board of Trustees for the past four years and has a strong record of service and giving to the University. He is a long-time member of the School of Architecture Advisory Board and is chair of the Campus Framework Advisory Group.
As a result of the Einhorns’ gift, the promenade will be known as the Einhorn Family Walk. This gift is the initial lead gift in a major fundraising effort to support the many projects contained within the draft Campus Framework.
Importantly, the gift is also the first in a series of giving opportunities for alumni and donors who will support other naming opportunities along the Einhorn Family Walk. With this gift and others we are actively pursuing, the project will be substantially donor supported.
Returning to the cost question: The previously planned and unavoidable, and very serious, deferred maintenance project on University Place, involving our major water sewer mains, cost just over $2 million. The final separate cost of turning University place into the Einhorn Walk, which made sense to do at the same time as the deferred maintenance project, was $4 million.
Of that $4 million, $2 million will come from philanthropy, of which $1 million has already been pledged and additional gifts are expected this year.
So the net cost to University funds of converting University Place to Einhorn Walk is expected to be $2 million dollars. I believe that was a good investment in the University Framework.
Diversity & Inclusion
I am grateful for the progress since Commencement on advancing diversity and inclusion at the University. Last week, I attended the last meeting of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity. I thanked them for their great work.
That work will be continued by the new Diversity and Inclusion Council. That council, which is the result of the Workgroup’s recommendations, is made up of 22 members (some of whom served on the Workgroup), including students, faculty and staff.
Many of the Workgroup’s 18 short-term recommendations have been implemented or initiated, including:
- For the first time on Monday, the University recognized Indigenous People’s Day.
- The Hendricks Chapel policy has been amended to ensure that all dedications and invocations at University events are nondenominational.
- An accessibility audit is underway, including inspection of all 9 million square feet of University buildings.
There is still much work to do on short-term recommendations before Dec. 31, and also on the workgroup’s long-term recommendations. The council and I are committed to doing the work.
Much of that work involves the voice and input of the University community.
Climate Assessment Survey
Last spring, nearly 6,000 students, faculty and staff members took part in a comprehensive survey about the learning, living and working environment at the University. I am committed, as is the University, to transparency in the results of this survey. I have not seen the results yet and will not until next week.
Next Thursday, Oct. 20, the survey report’s executive summary will be made available to the University community. A week later, on Thursday, Oct. 27, the Climate Assessment Planning Committee will host a pair of campus update sessions, during which project consultant Susan Rankin will describe the survey findings. It is important that all of us be prepared to learn from this complex data and participate in discussion about next steps.
The update sessions are from noon-1:30 p.m. and 4-5:30 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. Members of the University community are encouraged to attend one of these sessions or follow online the live stream of the second session.
The conversation about next steps will include an online feedback form and a series of “campus conversation” open meetings late this semester and early next semester during which the Climate Assessment Planning Committee hopes to obtain additional input in preparation for the release of its final report and recommendations.
That is my report, and many thanks.