Syracuse University Magazine

Chancellor's Message


It would prove to be a defining moment in Syracuse University's history when Chancellor William Pearson Tolley opened wide the doors to opportunity for thousands of veterans in the wake of World War II, tripling enrollment literally overnight in 1946. SU's response garnered praise from President Harry Truman, setting a national standard for fulfilling the spirit of the original GI Bill. The University made room for the vets and their families in every corner of campus-including 900 rapidly assembled Quonset huts, barracks, and trailers that sprang up along Comstock Avenue, on the University Farm (now Skytop and Slocum Heights), and in what was then an orchard at Drumlins!

Looking back, we can see that SU boldly took the lead at the entrepreneurial edge of the 20th century's greatest expansion of access to American higher education. The original GI Bill provided unprecedented opportunity for hundreds of thousands from the "Greatest Generation," opening for them new intellectual horizons and new avenues for creativity, while accelerating the economy out of the post-Depression era and on to new heights. Today, we continue to lead the charge on helping soldiers past and present follow or find their guiding star through a constellation of efforts that includes our partnership with the Veterans Administration's national Yellow Ribbon Program under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Looking forward, we can discern that the nation and SU now stand at another decisive moment. Demographic trends stretching into the foreseeable future converge to trace an arc of increasing socioeconomic and ethnic diversity among future generations of high school graduates, as well as shifting geographies from which they will come. Census data reveal that the segments of the population expected to grow most are those with less affluence and lower college attendance rates historically. The challenge to assure college access and affordability for future students is compounded by the need to prepare them for what the Brookings Institution's Bruce Katz calls "The Next Economy"—one that is "export oriented, low carbon, and innovation fueled" and demands collaboration "across disciplines, across jurisdictions, across sectors so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

Once again, SU is poised to lead in thrusting open the door to opportunity for a new generation, as we tap the characteristically entrepreneurial spirit of our communities of experts-faculty, staff, students, the expansive SU family, and partners from across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors near and far. From Syracuse's Near Westside and Southside, to the stunning new Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems headquarters on a reclaimed brownfield downtown, to dynamic internship sites in Dubai and Mumbai, to semester-long immersion programs in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. (and more on the way in Atlanta and Boston), we continue to invest strategically in geographies of opportunity such as these and in financial support packages to keep SU affordable while educating our students to thrive in the next economy.

Our record number of applications for next fall indicates that the diverse next generation gets it. They want to prepare for the world in the world and they know the best place to do that is at a university like SU-where we're in the world, for the world.


Nancy Cantor, Chancellor and President