Dear Students, Faculty and Staff: I had hoped my first communication with the campus community would be to share positive news. Sadly though, I am writing with the most difficult news to share—the passing of one of our students. We…
School of Architecture Remembers Former Career Services Director Connie Caldwell
Connie Caldwell, former director of Career Services in the School of Architecture, died on June 11 at her home in Cazenovia. She was 65.
Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Caldwell moved to Nashua, New Hampshire, as a teen and later earned a degree from Rivier University, formerly Rivier College, with a focus in health education, and subsequently became a certified yoga teacher, Tai Chi teacher and vegetarian cooking instructor. According to her obituary, in connecting with people in these areas of health and well-being, Caldwell’s talent for mentoring and guiding others became clear.
In 1994, Caldwell brought her passion for helping others to her role as the director of Career Services in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University. She led the school’s career services operation for more than 20 years, touching the lives of hundreds of students, until her retirement in fall 2018. During this time, she created a signature career services program that was known nationally and internationally as a model for other schools.
“Connie was a creative and visionary leader. She expanded the mission of career services programming to include not only extensive resources for students but also for alumni, long before it was a trend in higher education,” says Katryn Hansen, former assistant dean in the School of Architecture.
As an experienced career services counselor, Caldwell opened doors for professional practices to access student strengths and set interviews for employment. She coached students on interview skills and helped firms on selection of talent, earning a high degree of trust.
“With a rare gift for creating connections, Connie nurtured extensive mentoring networks among alumni, employers and students, incorporating ideas from students and professionals to create a range of additional teaching tools,” says Hansen.
Caldwell was widely recognized by the profession as a pioneer in her role because of her ability to guide and connect some of the best architectural students in North America with many of the very best architectural firms in the world.
In 2013, the research firm DesignIntelligence named Caldwell as one of the 30 Most Admired Educators from the architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture disciplines for her leading-edge efforts in career services. She was presented with a special Dean’s Citation for Exceptional Service award that publicly recognized her substantial and meaningful legacy at the School of Architecture’s convocation ceremony in May 2019.
There is broad consensus among professionals inside and beyond the school that Caldwell’s work in preparing students for professional life was the primary reason that Syracuse University School of Architecture graduates were the No. 1 most hired alumni in the nation, according to the 2018-19 rankings report, compiled by DesignIntelligence.
“Connie laid the foundation for an amazing career services program at the School of Architecture,” says Kristen DeWolf, director of Career Services in the School of Architecture. “Her passion to help the students, positivity and mentorship will continue to have a profound impact on the students and alumni of our school.”
In fall 2019, a generous gift by the deGraffenried Foundation, spearheaded by four Syracuse University alumni, established the Connie Caldwell Summer Internship Award to support the commitment to students and alumni that Caldwell displayed while at the School of Architecture. The award assists with expenses associated with an internship for one full-time architecture student each summer.
“Connie’s reach across architecture was far and her unique ability to connect students to leaders in the profession was invaluable,” says Elizabeth Gralton G’08 (M.Arch.), board member of the deGraffenried Foundation. “She made our transition into the real world achievable by teaching us the most effective ways to communicate our work and fostering an impressive network of alumni. She may not have been a professor or an architect, but she was a foundational member of the staff and I know her impact will be felt for decades to come.”
“Connie was an amazing presence. She was determined to help every student reach their future career goals,” says Jaclyn Doyle ’21 (B.Arch.), inaugural recipient of the Connie Caldwell Summer Internship Award. “Her dedication to the students has directly translated to the reputation of the Syracuse Architecture program and is what really makes our alumni stand out in the workforce.”
“But more than anything Connie cared about people at a deep level,” her obituary notes. “Messages to the family from former students, colleagues and friends reflect how indelibly she touched others.”
“Connie was a positive and supportive colleague and friend who inspired and mentored many of the staff of the school,” says Hansen. “Memories of her warmth, humor and keen intelligence will always be with us.”
“Connie’s extraordinary service, commitment to excellence and entrepreneurial spirit has made a lasting impact on the life of the school,” says Michael Speaks, dean of the School of Architecture. “She was and will always remain the heart and soul of our school; she was beloved and will always be so.”
In addition to her work in career services, Caldwell “enjoyed yoga, gardening, podcasts, spiritual reading and practices, music, hiking and rowing her sleek fast boat on Cazenovia Lake,” according to her obituary. “Her beloved dog Whimsy was on her lap most of the time she was sitting down, and her daughter and husband were always the main focus of her attention despite her active career and busy life.”
A celebration in remembrance of Caldwell will be held at the School of Architecture this fall.
Those wishing to honor her memory can contribute to the Connie Caldwell Summer Internship Award fund by writing a check to “Syracuse University” with the words ‘in support of the Connie Caldwell Summer Internship Award’ in the memo line, and mailing it to: Office of Advancement, Syracuse University, 640 Skytop Road, Room 240, Syracuse NY 13244-5160. To make a donation online, visit soa.syr.edu/give.