Dear Students and Families: Congratulations—we crossed the threshold of the midway point of the fall semester earlier this week! I hope you’ll take time this weekend to recharge your batteries, connect with friends and burn off some stress. The activities…
Chancellor Syverud Provides Updates to the University Senate
In his remarks to the University Senate, Chancellor Kent Syverud gave an overview of COVID-19 vaccination progress and Commencement, as well as highlighting recent academic honors received by faculty and students.
Thanks, Professor Haddix. Our University is often blessed to have the right person in the right role at the right time. This is true even when the work turns out to be more onerous and different than anybody planned. And I really think that this is the case for what Professor Haddix has done for all of us the last two years. I just want to acknowledge that this is her last meeting, presiding over a full meeting of the Senate. I’m just so grateful to you for your leadership. It’s what this University needed.
In just a month, we will be holding in-person Commencement exercises in two years. And that’s hard to believe, but I thank everybody on this call and in our community for pretty heroic work to keep our university on track all year and this semester so we can do that.
I also want to join with Professor Haddix in acknowledging the impact of recent events, including the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. And thank everybody who worked to create opportunities for discussion on campus. I encourage anyone who needs support to take advantage of the many resources offered by the University. And I ask that we offer grace to our colleagues and classmates at this time, which continues to be challenging.
Since we last met, New York State has opened vaccination to all individuals over 16 years old for COVID-19. Two weeks ago, we began vaccinating students, faculty and staff at our own Barnes Center. As of yesterday, the State of New York reported that 42% of adult New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
At Syracuse University, I am very proud to report that as of today, more than 66% of our students are fully vaccinated and have documented their vaccination status in our online database. We believe many more have received the first of two shots or have been fully vaccinated elsewhere and have not yet uploaded their data to our systems.
As of today, more than 67% of benefits-eligible faculty and staff have filled out the attestation that they have been fully vaccinated, or have received their first of two doses, and a small number have received an exemption. For many reasons, I am encouraged to see the response from our entire community.
As you know, we had a spike in positive COVID-19 cases on campus earlier this month. However, last week those numbers began declining. As a result, on Monday we reopened our dining halls.
We expect to be able to continue relaxing some restrictions as public health indicators improve. Our circumstances at SU, as a result, compare favorably to the vast majority of our peers.
Last week I announced that students, faculty and staff who access campus as of June 1 are required to be vaccinated. Medical or religious exemptions will be accepted. However, the vast majority of those on our campus this summer should be vaccinated. This same requirement applies to the fall semester. This decision is supported by the Public Health Team, by our faculty. The data shows that the vaccines are safe and very effective. As we have done since the start of the pandemic, we are making decisions that are supported by science. We were among the first universities to make this a requirement. Many other universities, including many peers, have since announced similar requirements. This is how we will proceed.
On the subject of Commencement for the Class of 2021, we are grateful that the State of New York has expanded access so that we are able to hold in-person Commencement ceremonies in the stadium, next month. Based on state capacity limits for in-person commencement activities, which are different than state capacity limits for in-person athletics activities, even in the same venue, we are permitting graduates to invite up to two guests to attend in person.
We are asking that students indicate their intent to participate by the end of this week. Following that, we will update students and faculty with the details of the ceremonies.
I’ll conclude with some wonderful academic news about some of our faculty and students:
- Chris Green (assistant professor, Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, College of Arts and Sciences) who was recently awarded a significant grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Stephen Kuusisto (University Professor, Burton Blatt Institute, School of Education) received a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry.
- Junior Alexander Metcalf, from the College of Engineering and Computer Science, has been selected for the 2021 Goldwater Scholarship. He is majoring in aerospace engineering and is a member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program. The Goldwater Scholarship is among the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships awarded in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.
- Junior Cameron Gray, from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, who was named 2021 Beinecke Scholar—the second in Syracuse history and one of only 16 in the nation. The award provides graduate funding and mentorship for juniors in the arts, humanities or social sciences. The Beinecke Scholarship seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated juniors of exceptional promise to pursue graduate study in the arts, humanities and social sciences.
Thank you to everyone who has helped and encouraged these outstanding faculty and students.
I will take questions after the Provost’s remarks.