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 February Meeting of University Senate
During his remarks at the Feb. 15 University Senate meeting, Chancellor Kent Syverud called on the University community to embrace each and every member of our community, especially those affected by executive orders that altered the United States’ immigration policies. The Chancellor specifically cited those students, faculty and staff of the Islamic faith and those who come from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Syria.
Chancellor Syverud also encouraged the members of the Senate to participate in the Feb. 28 Campus Framework Forum; introduced Amir Rahnamay-Azar, the University’s new senior vice president and chief financial officer; and asked the Senate to join him in thanking Gwenn Judge for her exceptional service as interim chief operating officer.
Below are the Chancellor’s remarks as prepared for the University Senate meeting:
Good afternoon. I am pleased to be here today. Before I share a couple quick updates, I want to extend my gratitude to Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly and to all of you for participating in last week’s open forum. Hosting an open forum is part of Senate bylaws. I think it is good that after many years of not holding a forum, we have started this tradition again.
I today asked the Senate Agenda Committee to help suggest the structure and membership of a committee that will plan the University’s activities to mark our sesquicentennial, our 150th birthday. Our 150th birthday year is in 2020, which also happens to be an election year. As I have been listening to the discussion on various issues in the Senate today, I have been thinking about getting to 2020, and who we are going to be as a University and as a country when we get to 2020.
Folks, we are in a marathon, not in a sprint. Two friends in the noon-day running club, a great Syracuse tradition, have recently reminded me that the tactics and strategy that gets you successfully through a marathon are different than the tactics and strategy that gets you successfully through a sprint. I would like our University to get to 2020 in a state where we are thriving and our values are intact.
I am taking under advisement the counsel we have received from Senators today on various issues. For now, all I want to add is that I reaffirm that the values of Syracuse University include our steadfast belief in shared governance, our respect for civil discourse and free speech, and our rejection of discrimination on the basis of religion or national origin. I believe each of those values is going to be challenged at times from all directions between now and 2020. There will be times when we all don’t agree on what these values require in particular contexts. That is ok—we are a university—we are not all supposed to agree with each other all the time. But we are supposed to listen to each other. And I hope we can all continue to agree on these shared values, including today especially that we embrace each and every member of our community, including those of Islamic faith and those who come from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Syria.
Last week, General Counsel and Slutzker Center staff hosted two in-depth open houses at the Slutzker Center. Dozens of students attended. The University remains focused on providing support to our students, faculty and staff directly impacted by the administration’s executive orders. The Senate Academic Affairs Committee has also formed a subcommittee, which has drafted a proposal for pathways to degree completion for students affected by U.S. immigration policies. I expect further discussion of that proposal in the very near future.
There also continues to be many discussions about how we can best support our diverse student body, many of whom may be undocumented or beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.
Last week, I announced the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals/Undocumented Students (DACA). This committee will be charged with establishing opportunities for dialogue and reflection among students, faculty and staff to promote and advance a diverse and inclusive campus community. This committee will also:
- review what Syracuse University is currently doing in terms of supporting these students;
- explore best practices at other colleges and universities; and
- identify and recommend ways in which we can enhance our support of this group of students.
I am finalizing the membership of the DACA Committee to include students, faculty and staff. The goal is to compile a committee with significant experience and expertise in this area. I plan to name the committee by the end of the week. If members of the Senate have interest in serving on the committee, they should contact my office.
I understand some members of Syracuse University affiliated faculty and staff have been working to organize an event with Congressman John Katko later this week. I understand Congressman Katko will be unable to attend. I want the University Senate to know that Congressman Katko and his staff have been very helpful in recent times on individual immigration issues involving our faculty and students. He and I are talking about immigration-related issues and that will continue in the future.
Campus Framework Forum
Provost Wheatly and Pete Sala, vice president and chief facilities officer, updated the campus community last week about the ongoing Campus Framework planning process. Envisioning and bringing to life the future of our campus is a significant undertaking—both logistically and financially.
As such, we continue all of this work in a deliberate, meticulous and collaborative manner. Given all this great activity, we are taking additional time to ensure that all feedback is accurately and appropriately reflected in the next draft of the Campus Framework.
I encourage you to attend the next Campus Framework forum, scheduled for Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. in the Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. In tandem with the Campus Framework Advisory Group, Provost Wheatly, Vice President Sala and Cathryn Newton, special advisor to the Chancellor and provost for faculty engagement, will host the event. The goal is to share input received and solicit additional feedback on next steps, particularly as it relates to academic priorities.
New CFO Begins
Finally, I ask that you join me in welcoming Amir Rahnamay-Azar, who is here with us today. Amir is our new senior vice president and chief financial officer. Today is his first official day—although he’s been hard at work for several weeks to ensure a smooth transition.
Today is also the first official day since June that Gwenn Judge has not been our interim CFO. Gwenn has returned to her role as our chief budget officer, and will continue to work closely with the schools, colleges and the University Senate. I am deeply grateful to Gwenn for her service over the last eight months. She has shown grace, dedication, integrity and respect for everyone at the University. Could you all please join me in thanking Gwenn?