Syracuse University Magazine

Chancellor's Message

Chancellor Nancy Cantor

America looks to its colleges and universities in challenging times, whether to prepare new generations for the evolving responsibilities of citizenship or to drive prosperity through innovation. Continuing aftershocks of the Great Recession once again have placed what we want and need from higher education atop the public agenda, and living up to its legacy of tackling the tough issues of the day, SU is helping lead the national discussion.

With a growing group of like-minded institutions and associations, we’ve formed the American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP) and joined with the nonpartisan, nonprofit Public Agenda, appropriately enough, and the National Issues Forums—a network of civic, educational, and other organizations, and individuals, whose common interest is to promote public deliberation in America—to kick off a nationwide dialogue this fall titled, Shaping Our Future.

Facilitating dialogue around pressing issues of the day is in SU’s DNA, a critically important skill for our increasingly interconnected world that we’re passing along to today’s students. The School of Education’s Gretchen Lopez, for example, is helping students build bridges across campus through the Intergroup Dialogue Program, using dialogue among peers as a technique to promote mutual understanding across differences. Expanding that circle, the Maxwell School’s Grant Reeher and Tina Nabatchi are training students to break out of the campus bubble and engage community members across Central New York through CNY Speaks, an initiative that uses facilitated live forums, online social networking tools, surveys, and journalistic articles to get beyond platitudes and move toward consensus on local issues from environmental stewardship to economic revitalization.

Which brings us full circle to assuring that colleges and universities are the engines of opportunity we need them to be for the next generation: job number one is assuring that we’re accessible and affordable. So, when Vice President Joe Biden L’68 and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sought to promote transparency about financial aid packages and college costs for students and families, SU answered the call and is now working with a select group of colleges and universities to create model communications for institutions nationwide.

Another urgent message we need to deliver is that developing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics talent from our increasingly diverse pool of youth remains a critical national need. We’re getting that across loud and clear with the likes of the iSchool’s IT Girls retreats, where high schoolers are mentored to aspire to technology careers, and with Project ENGAGE, a summer camp hosted by the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science to help middle school girls chart a course to changing the world for the better, whether by using new techniques to conserve water, new materials for resilient prosthetics, or new technologies for intelligent buildings.

Toward the other end of the educational spectrum, as their year of study at the Maxwell School comes to a close, the latest class of Humphrey Fellows—a dozen, seasoned professionals from 11 countries on four continents sent here to hone their policy knowledge and governance skills—has grown to embody the kind of global leadership the world needs most right now, fully prepared to leverage their SU education to make a difference from China and Myanmar to Ecuador and Oman.

As we send them off—and as we cheer this month for SU’s Olympians from basketball to field hockey and rowing to the heptathlon, in competition that we do well to remember is about promoting peace through cultural diplomacy—we know that SU alumni are giving their all in many roles on the global stage and doing us proud.


Nancy Cantor

Chancellor and President