Chancellor Syverud delivers address on the first day of classes

Chancellor Syverud delivers address on the first day of classes

The Winter Address emphasized upcoming initiatives for the spring semester including results of the greek life audit and initiatives on diversity and inclusion.
Published: January 14, 2019
Chancellor Kent Syverud delivers address on the first day of classes
Chancellor Kent Syverud addresses the Syracuse student body for his 2019 Winter message.

Chancellor Kent Syverud emphasized academic excellence and diversity in his Winter Address on Monday.

Student Association president Ghufran Salih opened the event at the university’s Life Sciences building. Syverud began the address by noting that more people are saying they’re proud to be Orange. He began the speech with recognition the university has received in the past few months before delving into certain initiatives.

Maintaining academic distinctions  

According to Syverud, Syracuse University earned a top tier rank among research universities for the second time. It also ranked high in doctoral institutions of higher education.  

“It is essential that we continue to be a rigorous center of learning, a global center for high quality research,” he said. To continue SU’s up-and-coming legacy in academics, Invest Syracuse is adding additional money to increase faculty hires from 100 to 200. Candidates for hired faculty will likely come from fields in technology, sciences, and social justice.  

Undergrad students will also have a chance to participate in research projects, thanks to a $1 million contribution from Invest Syracuse. The community can also expect new infrastructure designed to aid in research.  

“We are working this coming semester to work on an effort that draws on several schools and colleges to launch a center dedicated to developing framework on adopting technologies and a multidisciplinary institute,” Syverud said.

Other key initiatives are to finalize the search for new deans for the School of Information Studies and the College of Engineer and Computer Science.  

Changes based on the Greek Life audit

Syverud also shared some of the results found in the Greek life audit conducted last summer. The findings included strengths and weaknesses of the SU Greek community. Dean of Students Rod Hradsky emailed the student body on Monday with further details on the audit.

Some of the positives in the study included recruitment, philanthropy, community service, Fraternity And Sorority Affairs advisement to culture-based chapters and Schine Student Center event management. But Hradsky said that recommendations for improvement were needed especially for FASA organizational structure, unclear communication, integration of diversity and inclusion, law enforcement, and unrecognized groups going unnoticed.

“A lot of students are in these organizations, or included in Greek life, myself included. It’s something that’s been on the back of everyone’s minds since [Theta Tau], so everyone has been looking forward to the results,”  Salih said.

While addressing the weaknesses, Syverud acknowledged that changes required from the audit cannot be accomplished immediately.  

Improvements to campus diversity and inclusion  

In an effort to follow through on the promise of an accessible and equitable campus, more than a thousand campus staff members attended a half-day program on bias before the winter break. Syverud said that it may have been the largest staff development event in SU history.

This spring will also likely conclude the search for a Chief Diversity Officer. The position application was recently posted online. The selected candidate will most likely begin work before the fall 2019 semester.  

“This new position will help us continue to focus on creating a more welcoming and diverse community,” Syverud said.  

The University is also close to finalizing the hiring of a University Ombudsman and hopes to announce the hiring selection soon. The Ombuds will act as an impartial and confidential resource for questions and concerns.

“I’m very excited for the Chief Diversity Officer and the new faculty hires. Students like to see professors in their areas who look like them, and talk like them. Once we get the right people here, we can hit the ground running,” Wes Whiteside, a specialist at Central Career Services, said.  

At the end of the address The Chancellor mentioned preparations for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2020, and extended an invitation to the campus community.

“I challenge all of you to show up as Orange, as members of a community who are proud of all we have accomplished but not complacent in who we are. Wear orange with pride,” he said.