Syracuse University Magazine

Chancellor's Message

Chancellor Nancy CantorA few weeks ago, I joined SU Board of Trustees members, faculty, deans, students, friends, and alumni in a parking lot on the western edge of campus to honor a quintessential SU family, the Dineens, near a neighborhood once known as “the Swamp,” where patriarch Robert Dineen Sr. L’24 had been a child. Robert would rise to the heights of the insurance profession, meeting and marrying Carolyn Bareham Dineen L’32 along the way, a pioneer in her own right as only one of two women in her law school graduating class. Thanks to an overwhelmingly generous gift of $15 million from their family, a fitting monument to Robert and Carolyn soon will rise on that site: Dineen Hall, a new home for the SU College of Law.

The Dineen story illustrates what may be SU’s most precious legacy: being a place of access and opportunity where people from all backgrounds have come to make the most of their talents and make a difference in the world—and the impact often ripples across generations. From admitting women since our founding in 1870, to throwing our doors open wide to veterans after World War II, to our current partnership with Say Yes to Education (see Fall 2009 cover story), we continue to build on this legacy.

Most recently, in a precedent-setting public-private collaboration that naturally builds on Say Yes, we unveiled 2+2 joint admission agreements with two-year institutions Onondaga Community College and Georgia Perimeter College, which serve predominantly lower income populations. The agreements provide qualifying students—both in Central New York and in Atlanta, one of our “geographies of opportunity”—with dual admission, guaranteed transfer into a wide array of SU degree programs, and predictive financial aid packages for SU enrollment. This innovative arrangement promises to significantly reduce students’ financial burden while assuring them of a world-class education that prepares them for the world in the world.

And because the challenging economic climate has created new levels of need among students and families across all income levels, we continue to expand our efforts to ease the financial burdens of middle- and upper-middle income students and families. True to their visionary leadership and deep generosity, Howard Phanstiel ’70, G’71 and his wife, Louise, are providing an extraordinary $20 million gift that helps support middle-income students who demonstrate a desire to become engaged citizens and leaders. As Phanstiel Scholars, recipients of this funding support will actively promote and model the value of civic engagement and the importance of using their education to effect positive change.

We need not look far to see those effects. At this fall’s induction ceremony for new University Trustees, we heard from Alex Jimerson ’11, a public health major, member of the Seneca Nation, and a Haudenosaunee Promise Scholar. The son—and grandson—of an ironworker, Alex movingly recounted how his father nurtured in him the desire to go to college, which ignited his fire to work hard to get there. “Without the Haudenosaunee Promise scholarship,” he said, “I would not be standing here before you today.” Upon graduation, Alex plans to pursue graduate work that will equip him to help shape policies addressing the health disparities afflicting indigenous populations.

Assuring access and opportunity not only makes dreams come true, but also brings widely varied perspectives and life experiences to our campus that bridge cultural divides and broaden our worldview. Across the generations, we celebrate the successes of every Carolyn and Robert Dineen—and every Alex Jimerson—in our midst…and the ripples they generate.

Cordially,

Nancy Cantor

Chancellor and President