Syracuse University Magazine

Chancellor's Message


I write this on an unusually cold April day in Syracuse. There is snow on the ground. The temperature is in the 20s. Yet the sky is a brilliant blue with an incredible splash of orange. It is a warm and brilliant hue that captures the energy on campus after an extraordinary few months. It is also inspiration as we anticipate spring Commencement, a rite of passage with its roots in the Middle Ages, a highly symbolic ritual of conclusion and emergence into a new life.

Like the Commencement ceremony, the spring edition of the magazine celebrates notable accomplishments of this past semester, and reminds us of what we aspire to be in the future. From March Madness to mysteries of the universe, we have much to celebrate.  

The entire Orange Nation caught the exhilaration of the run to the Final Four. Buildings from downtown Syracuse to Manhattan glowed orange and blue in honor of New York’s College Team. That both teams’ runs ended without national titles does not diminish the transcendent spirit that elevated us to the point.  The character of our teams reflects the character of our campus.  It is that character that will secure our place in history as a University that values and demonstrates fortitude in everything we do—and drives us to achieve greatness. 

There are other recent affirmations of such fortitude and success. In February, I was informed Syracuse had climbed to an “R1” rating, as determined by the Carnegie Classification for Institutions of Higher Learning. That is the top research class awarded to a doctoral university. Syracuse was one of only 15 universities nationwide to move into the top category in the latest rankings. The cover of this magazine celebrates a magnificent example of the work accomplished here.

Syracuse University’s role in a discovery that sounds like science fiction continues to bring well-deserved attention to our research enterprise. Last September, scientists at the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Louisiana and Washington, observed actual ripples in the fabric of spacetime caused by gravitational waves. It verified a major prediction made by Albert Einstein in his 1915 theory of relativity.  

Syracuse University was a key part of that discovery. A team of physicists from the College of Arts and Sciences played an instrumental role: Peter Saulson, the Martin A. Pomerantz ’37 Professor of Physics; Duncan Brown, the Charles Brightman Endowed Professor of Physics; Stefan Ballmer, assistant professor of physics; and a group of nearly two dozen students and research scientists. Men and women from this University are helping to change the way we see the universe itself.

Yet, there is more to be discovered and much more to be achieved as we strive to make a difference and have impact on national and international fronts. Just recently, I had the privilege of introducing President Barack Obama, who was the keynote speaker at the Toner Prize for Political Reporting in Washington, D.C. The high honor in journalism was created by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and is named for the late Robin Toner ’76. She was a Syracuse graduate who became a pioneering reporter for The New York Times. The president’s remarks attracted national attention as he focused on the urgent need for disciplined, courageous, and responsible journalism, even in a turbulent digital era.  

Our entire University community aspires to be courageous and responsible, to be innovative and inspirational, qualities affirmed throughout this magazine. So, as I marvel at the brilliant blue sky with its orange hues, I am reminded of the true spirit of Syracuse: We find our way to sunlight, even in the snow.


Kent Syverud

Chancellor and President