Dear Students, Faculty and Staff: I am writing today to provide our monthly update regarding the investigation of bias incidents that have occurred on our campus. First, however, I want to address recent events that are deeply troubling to me,…
Board of Trustees Announces Special Committee; Engages Independent Panel of National Experts to Assess and Advise on University Climate, Diversity and Inclusion
Syracuse University’s Board of Trustees today announced the formation of an Independent Advisory Panel, which will work in conjunction with a newly formed Board of Trustees Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity and Inclusion, to assess and provide recommendations regarding programs, policies and initiatives designed to foster and strengthen diversity and inclusion at Syracuse. Comprised of nationally prominent experts, the advisory panel, in collaboration with the special committee and Syracuse University leadership, will be charged with reviewing the existing framework for diversity and inclusion and making recommendations. The announcement of this panel and the special committee follows commitments made by the University, including those made in recent weeks after consultation with student leaders.
Members of the Independent Advisory Panel, all of whom have agreed to accept the charge immediately, are the following:
- Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO, The Jewish Federations of North America; former president and CEO, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life; and former chancellor, the Ohio Board of Regents;
- Karol Mason, president, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and former assistant U.S. attorney general, Office of Justice Programs;
- Damon Williams, senior scholar and Innovation Fellow at Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin; founder of Atlanta-based Center for Strategic Diversity Leadership and Social Innovation; and founding member of the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education; and
- Frank H. Wu, the William L. Prosser Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law (also former chancellor and dean); former faculty member, Howard University Law School; and former dean, Wayne State University Law School.
“With the appointment of this expert panel and the formation of the special committee, the Board affirms its vision and commitment to build on the work that is already underway to foster a campus climate that is safe, diverse, inclusive and welcoming to everyone,” says Board of Trustees Chair Kathy Walters. “The goal of our work is to establish Syracuse University as a leader in higher education and beyond by modeling the values of a diverse and inclusive society on our campus, while fostering a culture at Syracuse University that is supportive and welcoming to all people and preparing our students to be leaders in our diverse world.”
As an integral part of this effort, the panel and special committee plan to directly engage with students, faculty, staff and alumni, including through in-person meetings, surveys and other ways of gathering information. All of this input will be taken into consideration in developing recommendations to build a stronger institutional framework.
Collaboration between the Independent Advisory Panel, the special committee, University leadership and others will result in a comprehensive analysis and recommendations regarding policies, programs and other initiatives required to foster a sustainable approach to diversity and inclusion. They will also evaluate successful practices and programs at other higher education institutions and explore how they can be introduced and sustained at Syracuse University.
“Our unwavering commitment is that Syracuse University is a place where all students, faculty and staff feel included, supported, protected and respected as valued members of this community,” says Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud. “I look forward to the work of the Independent Advisory Panel and the special committee. Our community lending its voice to this important work will be instrumental in creating a stronger Syracuse University for everyone.”
The special committee will be co-led by Trustees Richard Alexander and Jeffrey Scruggs, who will be joined by the chairs of the Board of Trustees committees governing Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Advancement and External Affairs, and Budget, as well as Board Chair Walters.
Interim reports will be made throughout the spring semester with the goal of completing recommendations by the end of June 2020. At the same time, the University will continue to implement previously announced programs and enhancements, including the November 2019 agreements.