Syracuse University Libraries is offering extended hours during finals week: Friday, Dec. 15, through Monday, Dec. 18: Bird Library will be open 24 hours a day and Carnegie Library will be open until 11 p.m. The Libraries is also offering…
Chancellor Syverud Provides Update on Benefits, Sustainability at Final University Senate Meeting of the Academic Year
First, I just want to say something off script, which is that we just did something that was a formality, but it’s an important formality for some of the people newer to shared governance to call attention to. The Senate approved delegation of the faculties, the recommendation of degrees. And that’s important because at Syracuse University, only the Senate can approve degrees. And it delegates that to the faculty. So it lets the faculty, and more importantly, not the chancellor, not the Board of Trustees, confer a degree, unless recommended in accordance with the requirements of the faculty. That may seem like a technicality, and we’d just vote, but it’s kind of like how you count votes for the Electoral College. Sometimes it suddenly matters a lot. So I just want to remind you of that.
I also want to remind folks that the One University Awards are happening this Friday at 4 p.m. at Hendricks Chapel. It’s a way to celebrate so many extraordinary people at this University—faculty, staff, students, community members, including the Chancellor’s Citations and the Forever Orange Award. We’re celebrating professors emeriti. We’re conferring the Chancellor’s Medal on Dean Diane Murphy. And Gwenn Judge is coming back so we can give her an award. If you have a chance to come, if you worked with folks, there’s a lot of meaning in that event. So I hope you come.
At the last Senate meeting I promised an update on the commitment to advance our sustainability goals at this university. I’m pleased to report that the University has revised our timeline for achieving net carbon neutrality to 2032, eight years earlier than our previous goal of 2040.
This grew out of efforts of our Student Association and its outgoing President David Bruen, and the student leaders here and at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and at LeMoyne College. David just relentlessly focused, because they’re going to be around longer than some of us, on reducing our carbon footprint sooner. Reaching this ambitious new goal is going to require every member of our community to work on changes. And we’re going to be doing that this fall.
Just for a preview of coming attractions, it will require that the days of these things [holds up plastic water bottle] are numbered, as are single-use plastics in various ways on this campus and in our facilities all over the world. There will be other things, too. We’re also adding a proactive oversight group to assure we’re on track each year to get into net carbon neutral, no later than 2032. I thank everybody who worked on that.
Turning to the benefits issue: this was part of an issue that is raised in the resolution and in some materials. I provided a report in a written letter to Emily [Stokes-Rees] on Monday that was not that far away from some of these committee reports. It’s been provided to some of you, but will be published to all of you. But I want to give a gist of that quickly.
I’m appointing an ad hoc working group right away on benefits engagement to work over the summer and reach recommendations in a report by August. I’ve reached out to Senate Chair Emily Stokes-Rees to request recommendations, including for four or five faculty members or staff to work with me over the summer on that. I’d like to receive recommendations from you all as well by May 1 because I want the first meeting to occur before Commencement.
I have asked the leaders of that effort to be Falk College Professor Eric Kingson and Andy Gordon, senior vice president and chief human resource officer. I’m going to meet with that group over the summer. The charge for that group is:
- Review options and recommend a structure for soliciting feedback from faculty and staff;
- Make recommendations on health care rates and review proposed benefits changes for calendar year 2024; and
- Consider other matters directly about benefits brought forth by the University Senate, faculty and staff.
We’ll share their report with the Senate and appropriate committees before the first Senate meeting in the fall. The first Senate meeting in fall often is not quite as crammed an agenda. Based on that report and the discussion of it, we’re going to have a new process that we’ll use on an experimental basis for next year. And we’ll get feedback at the end of the year as to how that worked, and come up with the final process for the year after. I know that’s a very iterative process, but this turns out to be more complicated. And there are disagreements. I identified at least one in the first meeting with Eric and Andy. I want to get them transparently on the table and resolve them over the summer so we can talk about what they are. Thanks for everybody for helping with that. I do think it’s going to be a fairly transparent process for the coming year—both on what the process is going to be, and what it’s going to be for the coming year.
Just quickly, there’s good news I want to share that the University’s Student Experience division was recently named one of the 27 Most Promising Places to Work in Student Affairs by Diverse Issues in Higher Education. That award goes to workplaces that are vibrant, diverse, supportive and committed to increase excellence. Thanks to everybody who helped make that happen, including the leadership under Senior Vice President Allen Groves.
The Schine Student Center has now officially been designated a great place. Our renovated Schine Center was recognized for excellence in the design of student-centered facilities from the Association of College Unions International. Congratulations to Facilities and all the students and people who participated in the design. I could also thank lot of people, but the provost has told me she’s going to thank them in her remarks, so I’m going to stop. I’ll be here for questions after her remarks. Thanks.