Syracuse University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) was recently created through a merger of the Office of Institutional Research and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment. The streamlined operation, located at 400 Ostrom Avenue, serves all members…
Chancellor Addresses University Senate for First Time in Spring Semester, Announces New Naming Gift for 119 Euclid
Chancellor Kent Syverud addressed University Senate at its meeting today. His remarks were as follows:
Thank you, Professor Reed. I have some quick updates and a happy announcement I’ll conclude with, but first I’d like to acknowledge the loss of two students from the Syracuse University community over the winter break.
Matthew Benedict, of Massachusetts, was an online graduate student in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. He earned his undergraduate degree from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and was pursuing a master’s degree in cybersecurity.
Liam Zoghby, a sophomore in the School of Education’s InclusiveU program, was a lifelong Orange fan. He recently served as a student manager to the men’s basketball team, and was a graduate of Jamesville-Dewitt High School. I thank a lot of people who supported one another and Liam’s family by attending his Celebration of Life last Friday afternoon. And I thank Coach Red Autry for honoring Liam with a moment of silence at the basketball game Saturday.
I join everyone in our community who is mourning the loss of these two students.
I hope everyone has had a good first week. We begin the spring 2024 semester with more than 560 new students on campus—first-year students, transfer students, law students, and graduate students. We also began with the wonderful Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dinner at the JMA Wireless Dome. I thank everybody who did that work.
The enrollment news is happy for the 2024 entering undergraduate class. For the third year in a row, applications are at a historic high. Traditional first-year undergraduate applications are up 6% from last year at this time, with well over 44,000 applications received.
I also want to alert the Senate to two pilot programs that we’ve been using to increase enrollment and access to the University and success at the University.
The first is to remove barriers that make it easier for veteran and military-connected transfer students to enroll at Syracuse. This past fall, we started a new pilot program through the College of Professional Studies to streamline the transfer credit assessment process. This provides student veteran applicants very timely information that demonstrates Syracuse University is a competitive option. This pilot program will run through the end of fall 2024.
Second, the College of Professional Studies, working with academic units and academic affairs, initiated a degree completion pilot program this past summer. We currently offer 12 online undergraduate degrees and more than 400 online undergraduate courses. The idea of this pilot is to use that arsenal of online courses to help our students who have been unable to complete their degrees. There are thousands of students who started here at Syracuse University and then didn’t finish for various reasons, including challenging economics or health reasons or the pandemic. Instead of making those students feel like they are abandoned, we want to welcome them back and make it easy and affordable for them to finish.
The University reached out to 275 former full-time students last semester. Nearly 30% of those students have followed up to learn more. I think about five students are already finishing up, and another 28 students are working on their bespoke program to get their degree completed with these online courses. I thank the Office of Online Student Success for helping with this. This semester we’re reaching out to 600 additional non-complete degree students to help them do that. We’re going to assess this pilot at the end of the year and we’re going to work closely with Dean Mike Frasciello and academic affairs faculty and deans to see what worked and what didn’t, and decide whether to continue it.
We are in the middle of a chief information officer (CIO) search, just to remind folks. We’re looking for a forward-thinking, permanent technology leader. We have a wonderful interim. We launched that search last semester. We have a slate of candidates we’re interviewing virtually and expect to complete that in the next week of two and have a new CIO on board this semester.
I’d like to share a little bit on Micron and economic development. We had our Board of Trustees meeting this past week. One of the topics on the agenda was Micron and economic development, and Micron leaders attended. The most important thing to report to all of you is this project is moving forward quickly. It’s actually happening faster than many of you may be expecting. We have a lot of headlines of the challenges from it. The biggest challenge right now is the housing market and how we’re going to do housing when we have another 50,000 new jobs added, which will be in the next four to five years. All this economic development is going to change this university in significant ways—our housing, our neighborhoods, our commuting, our child care, our schools, and health care.
I experienced a time of fast growth in Nashville, Tennessee, when I was in a leadership role there. The difference from Nashville to Syracuse right now is that our growth is coming faster, and our local culture has little experience with growth in our lifetimes. Upstate New Yorkers like me are understandably skeptical about the impending economic growth due to unrealized promised and hopes in the past. And yet this time it actually is really different, and it’s coming at us fast.
There’s a lot of people at the university preparing for this. In the year-and-a-half since the Micron announcement, we have a team, led by Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie, working every day to maximize this opportunity. It’s required a lot of work with local government and business leaders and other higher education institutions to adjust and figure out how we can help. Not all in the Senate are aware of everything going on. It has required a lot of bandwidth from many people, including and especially in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. There is tremendous opportunity more broadly. I think we need a bigger update to a broader community on what’s going on. If you’re peaked of interest by this and want to get more involved, let me know.
I am also very focused right now on reinforcing and rearticulating our historic values and commitment to academic freedom and free speech, partly because of events in the world last semester. I’m grateful to Provost Gretchen Ritter and to Vice Chancellor for Student Experience Allen Groves for helping with that. Provost Ritter will speak to that in a moment.
I have appointed Provost Gretchen Ritter and Chief Student Experience Officer Allen Groves to lead a working group to come up with a Syracuse statement on free expression and academic freedom learning from the best elsewhere. They’re charged with developing a proposed statement that reflects our values, reaffirms our commitment to these values, and is informed by recent experiences and what we’ve learned from them. I’m glad Senator Thomas Keck from the Maxwell School has agreed to serve. He is joined by four other faculty members: Nina Brown, Sean Drake, Lauryn Gouldin, and Martin Abreu Zavaleta; Dean Behzad Mortazavi from the College of Arts and Sciences; Mary Grace Almandrez, vice president for diversity and inclusion; Daniel Kimmel, president and chief executive officer of the Graduate Student Organization; Student Association President William Treloar; Nathanael Linton, law student representative to the Board of Trustees; and two trustees, Steve Ballentine and Gisele Marcus.
I thank all those for helping with this. I expect written reports to the Senate on their work this semester.
And, the last happy announcement is that today we can announce a historic gift from Trustee Sharon Barner in support of 119 Euclid, Syracuse University’s student center for Black culture and history.
This large naming gift will support robust student-centered programming, foster a sense of belonging, promote student leadership, and recognize the legacy of Black community contributions on this campus. 119 Euclid will be renamed the Barner-McDuffie House, in honor of the support of Trustee Barner and her husband, Haywood McDuffie.
Official celebrations of this gift are being planned for the coming year. I hope you will all join us. We really try to expand meaningful opportunities for all students to build a sense of belonging here.
I look forward to working with you this semester. Thank you.