Tributes to honor Cantor in the works

Giant-sized statue with Shaq, Quad mosaic and the 'Cantorridor' bus system renaming are finalists to commemorate outgoing chancellor.

Tributes to honor Nancy Cantor announced
Renderings courtesy of Kedzie Matthews

By NewsHouse Staff Report
April 1, 2013

Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor might be stepping down in 2014, but her legacy will never be forgotten — at least that is the aim of a special commemorative planning commission.

The University is currently reviewing three potential tribute installations to honor Cantor’s legacy, said commission chairman Mike Norsembi after the group met Sunday. The tributes being considered are a statue, a brick mosaic and a complete rebranding of the Connective Corridor bus system.

“We don’t want to just throw a $50 placard up on an existing building,” Norsembi said. “When the commission met for the first time, we voted to use Nancy’s personal motto as our inspiration: ‘Go big or go to Georgetown.”

The proposed statue, a bronze portrayal of NBA great Shaquille O’Neal lifting Cantor into the air, would sit squarely in the middle of Kenneth A. Shaw Quadrangle. Titled Nancy Rising, the bronze monument would be a nod to the 7-foot-1 O’Neal’s halftime hoist during a 2011 Syracuse men's basketball game, and would rise nearly 50 feet in the air.

Italian artist Bruno Lucchesi, previously commissioned to sculpt the Ernie Davis statue on campus, is in talks to take on the Cantor statue as well.

“Shaq wants this statue to truly engage the entire Syracuse community,” O’Neal’s agent wrote in an email. “Children will climb it. Others will gaze upon it in awe. The statue will elevate Nancy to her rightful place, the same way Shaq did on that fateful day.”

The second proposed tribute is a large, brick mosaic of Cantor’s smiling face that would be laid at the intersection of five pathways in the Quad. Spanning more than 25 feet in diameter, the tiled portrait would be fashioned entirely from earth-toned bricks extracted from the chancellor’s childhood home in New York City.

“Some people have expressed concern that thousands of students would be traipsing on the chancellor’s face on a daily basis,” said Bill D. Ingstuff, the commission’s representative from SU’s School of Architecture. “But we believe that etching Chancellor Cantor’s face into the ground speaks to the permanence of her place here at SU.”

“Plus,” Ingstuff added, “You can’t tell me that seeing her face in aerial views on Google Earth wouldn’t be really freaking cool.”

The third option would call for a completed rebranding of the recently completed Connective Corridor project, which Cantor played a critical role in facilitating — starting with its name.

“Doesn’t ‘Connective Cantorridor’ just have a certain cadence to it?” Norsembi said. In addition to its name change, the transportation system would also undergo a physical makeover: All current “Connective Corridor” buses would be emblazoned with grinning Cantor bus wraps to advertise the name change and “act as a constant reminder of Cantor’s spirit and joyful nature that will permanently travel throughout the campus and surrounding area,” Norsembi said.

“We think it’s the best way to make sure that everyone in the city of Syracuse gets to experience the tribute,” said Addie Ministrator, the commission’s representative from the city of Syracuse said. “Talk about traveling in style.”

“With the release of new bus wraps, we could anticipate a sharp decline in crime along the bus routes,” SU's Department of Public Safety said in a statement, expressing support for the third proposal. “It’s panopticism at it’s finest. Who would dare commit a crime under the watchful eyes and sweet smiling face of Nancy?”

Cantor herself has declined to comment on the commission’s plans and could not be reached Sunday night for comment about the extravagant tribute ideas.

Any of the three considerations may come with a steep price tag, possibly as much as $5 million by some estimates. Fortunately, Norsembi said, money raised by the $1 billion Campaign for Syracuse University will fully fund the project. The campaign, which made history last year as SU’s largest fundraising initiative ever, set aside money for areas such as teaching, research, scholarship, technology and improvements to buildings.

“I’m pretty sure these ideas count as ‘improvement to buildings’,” said Benjamin Sandcoins, who serves as the treasurer of the commission. “Or ‘teaching,’ because, I mean, we’re teaching the community a lesson in honor and aesthetics. Oh! And democratic decision making and stuff.”

Among the rejected tribute ideas was an annual “Chancy Nancy Dancey,” an all-orange Sadie Hawkins-style winter ball aimed at promoting gender equality and school pride among SU students, and a massive silkscreen of Cantor emblazoned on the roof of the Carrier Dome.

The commission is seeking the campus community’s input through the end of the month as to which of the proposal best pays tributes to Cantor’s nearly decade of leadership and service to SU.

The winning choice will be announced May 12 at SU’s annual spring commencement and installed prior to Cantor’s June 2014 departure.

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