Syracuse University Magazine

A Worldview

Brian SpectorIn the past, people may have thought of Syracuse University as an iconic campus nestled amongst the rolling hills of Central New York. That has changed dramatically with a focus on “Geographies of Opportunity,” those key regions throughout the country and the world where many of our applicants, students, and alumni live.

In one of her first vision statements on Scholarship in Action, Chancellor Cantor issued the following challenge: “We need to be engaged with the world and the pressing concerns of the day.... To do this we are reaching out—in a disciplined and programmatic manner—beyond our ‘Hill’...raising our profile in the great cities of the world, from London to Beijing.”

SU has always been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as having one of the highest quality study abroad programs in the nation, with study centers in more than 30 countries,  in such cities as Beijing, Florence, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Santiago, and Strasbourg. What Chancellor Cantor had in mind, though, was much more—to demonstrate an increased commitment to welcoming international students, to better prepare graduates for an increasingly connected —and complex—global society, and to create and strengthen lifelong bonds and more closely engage with alumni throughout the world. Seven years later, one can only marvel at how the Chancellor’s challenge has been met. International enrollment is at a record high of more than 2,000 students representing nearly 130 countries. There are almost 10,000 SU alumni living outside the United States, with the largest concentrations in Canada, India, Taiwan, and South Korea, and also in places like Sierra Leone, the West Indies, and Bolivia. We have international clubs in 13 areas around the world. We opened an office in Dubai in June 2011 and have an expanded presence in Istanbul as well. Last year, a contingent of SU trustees and senior administrators traveled to Dubai and Istanbul to meet with local alumni to strengthen ties with them and their countries.

Although there are many examples of SU alumni “in the world, for the world,” I will share one. Last year, Greg Bilazarian ’06 decided he had done his last television news stand-up in a snowstorm in Toledo, Ohio. So, he traveled to Armenia to do volunteer work and then got a paid position as a producer for a fledgling national news operation. He now works for Civilitas Foundation, the parent organization for Civilnet TV, where, after starting from zero, he co-manages the Internet-based news operation. 

While it may be a “small world after all,” Syracuse University is poised to continue to extend its borders to meet the challenges of an increasingly interdependent global dynamic and to become a leader in international educational engagement. 

Brian Spector ’78

President, Syracuse University Alumni Association