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 March 29 Meeting of the University Senate
During his March 29 address to the University Senate, Chancellor Kent Syverud acknowledged the loss of senior David Stankiewicz and spoke on a recent political activity memo, Middle States accreditation and the annual Take Back the Night event.
The Chancellor’s remarks appear below.
First, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the loss of a member of our community, Syracuse University student David Stankiewicz. David passed away on March 25. He was a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in biology. He was a pre-med student and would have graduated in May. David was from Weston, Connecticut, and was a former member of the University’s Track and Field team.
David’s parents were on campus earlier this week. They were supported by many staff, faculty and students from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Public Safety, the Office of Residence Life, the Counseling Center, FIXit and other offices. I hope we all will keep David and his classmates and family and friends in our thoughts and prayers.
Political Activity Memo
Provost Wheatly was unable to attend this meeting because she is in New York City attending school and college Board of Advisors meetings. She will be in attendance at April’s meeting. In Provost Wheatly’s absence I was asked to follow up on last week’s discussion about the recent memo sent regarding political activity. When I came here in 2014, government relations was overseen by the vice president for advancement and external affairs. In the last year, I have asked the team in advancement to focus on fundraising. To that end, our Board approved a reorganization that shifted governmental relations recently to the portfolio of Vice Chancellor Haynie. In the past, this type of memo regarding political activity has been sent from the government relations office, and that is why the memo was sent under Professor Haynie’s signature. The policies referenced in the memo are the same policies that have been in place at the University for nearly a decade. I believe in the past they were communicated to deans and department chairs, not consistently to individual faculty members.
I listened at the Senate meeting last week, and also talked with some of you outside the meeting. What I heard is that our faculty expect to hear from the provost on important matters bearing on academic freedom, and this memo is one such matter. I appreciate this expectation. Therefore, moving forward, any memo on this topic will originate from the Provost’s Office. Also, I have asked that this memo be distributed annually from the provost, at a regular interval that makes sense, such as the start of every academic year.
Middle States Accreditation Process
As you know, the Middle States Accreditation process is well underway. First off, many thanks to Rochelle Ford, Jeff Stanton and Libby Barlow for leading this effort in partnership with Provost Wheatly. You will hear more about Middle States from Rochelle shortly.
This accreditation process is serious and important work. It is also important that as a body, the University Senate be briefed on Middle States, and continue to be updated on the overall reaccreditation process. I am especially thankful for Rochelle’s leadership and I am confident she will guide us through the accreditation process successfully.
I want to put Middle States in its appropriate context.
It is a necessary condition, for us to succeed as a national research university, that we be accredited. Similarly, it is a necessary condition that we are in compliance with federal and state laws bearing on higher education. But accreditation and legal compliance, while necessary for us to operate, are not sufficient for us to continue to excel as a research university in competition with our peers. The additional sufficient condition is that we invest in and execute upon an academic strategy that promotes our vision and mission.
So while accreditation is an important thing we have to work on collectively, in my view it is even more important:
1. that the academic strategic plan be improved by integration of school and unit plans and interdisciplinary priorities, and
2. that the academic strategic plan be funded by significant investment of new resources, including from fundraising and reduced administration costs.
I have asked Provost Wheatly to address this further at the April Senate meeting. I hope this will dovetail with the work of the Budget Committee and our new CFO, Amir Rahnamay-Azar. So the April meeting will be an important one.
Take Back the Night
Lastly, tonight at 7 p.m. at Hendricks Chapel, the University’s annual Take Back the Night event will take place. It is one of our most important annual events focused on ending sexual and relationship violence. I will be there along with other University leaders and encourage everyone to consider attending this event.
Thank you, that is my report for today.