Following a yearlong planning and development process involving hundreds of members of the campus community, “Leading With Distinction,” Syracuse University’s new academic strategic plan, was unveiled earlier this month. A launch symposium will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 26, from…
Thursday Morning Roundtable’s 56th Season Promises Mix of Virtual and In-Person Forums
The need to know more about the issues impacting our community has never been more essential, and neither has Thursday Morning Roundtable (TMR).
TMR is a weekly public forum hosted by Syracuse University’s Office of Community Engagement that features prominent newsmakers who discuss current events in Central New York and beyond. Before the pandemic, community members gathered for the forums in the community room of the Nancy Cantor Warehouse in downtown Syracuse.
But for the locked-down 2020-21 season, staff members from the Office of Community Engagement worked with the University’s IT staff to transform TMR into a weekly Zoom session that remained open to the public through a simple registration process.
As TMR embarks on its 56th season in 2021-22, the forums will remain virtual and the TMR staff will remain nimble with the goal that safe in-person forums will eventually return based on the latest COVID protocols and guidelines.
“We learned how to make TMR more accessible through Zoom, so we’ll continue to offer access through Zoom while also inviting community members to join us in-person when we can offer that option later this season,” says Emily Langan, community engagement coordinator for the Office of Community Engagement. “Working with our advisory council, we’ve built a strong lineup of speakers who will cover a broad range of topics from local to international issues, and we hope to see participants both virtually and in-person.”
The Zoom option was a success as attendance for the 2020-21 TMR forums surpassed the previous season. But the return of in-person forums will also be welcome as the appeal of TMR has always been its personal touch with community members enjoying fresh coffee and pastries, listening to the speaker, and asking questions following the presentation.
Even when TMR does return to an in-person setting, the 8 to 9 a.m. forums will be live-streamed and virtual, and participants will be able to ask questions at the end, Langan says.
The 2021-22 TMR season will kick off Sept. 16 with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who will provide a welcome to guests for the new season and brief comments. The guest speaker for the Sept. 16 forum will be Michael Frasciello, Ph.D., dean of the College of Professional Studies (formerly University College) at Syracuse. Frasciello will discuss the college’s past and current work in adult and continuing education, and the future of the college.
Registration will be required for the Sept. 16 TMR and all other forums this season.
Other confirmed TMR forums this fall include a panel discussion about the impacts of COVID-19, and presentations on the current housing situation in Central New York, quantum technology and legalized cannabis in New York.
One byproduct of the Zoom forums was that speakers were able to participate even with their busy travel schedules. The 2020-21 lineup featured U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), Assemblymember Pamela Hunter (D-Syracuse), Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon and other lawmakers who make decisions that impact all of us in Central New York.
“One of the enduring strengths of TMR is that our presentations remain timely and relevant, and that has never been more important than today with all of the issues that we’re facing locally, regionally and nationally,” says Cydney Johnson, vice president for community engagement and government relations. “As we build this year’s lineup, we will continue keep in mind the issues that are most important to our community.”
For those who can’t attend either virtually or in-person on a Thursday morning, the presentations will continue to be recorded and available through the Office of Community Engagement webpage. The forums will also be recorded through a partnership with WCNY radio, and the audio versions can be found on WCNY’s Thursday Morning Roundtable webpage.