Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund

Can you tell us your thoughts on the initiative to ensure greater student success? How can that be done?

Many students have told me that they want to be challenged more by their programs and peers. Students transfer elsewhere because they feel they aren’t being challenged as much as they want to be, both academically and in their co-curricular experiences here. What really good students want are really good students next to them, individuals who are engaged in the life of the community, in the life of the campus, and in their studies. If we want more people like that, we have to expect more of the individuals who are here. We have to change the culture, so that more work is expected and faculty require better performance. I believe most of our students can be academically engaged much more than they are; we have to find the key to unlock their passion.

One initiative focuses on graduate education. How can the University, in the words of the plan, “reorient graduate programs to meet the demands of changing market conditions in an increasingly competitive world?”

We have many professional master’s degree programs that rank in the upper echelons of education in the United States and internationally, too. I’m not sure whether it’s a question of reorienting ourselves, or determining in what other unique areas we can provide professional education. We also have to think about where there would be a demand, and where we’re uniquely qualified to meet it.
      Over time, it has taken longer and longer to earn a Ph.D. We have to figure out a way to improve the situation for doctoral students, so they don’t tie up so much of their prime time in school.
      In the next generation, we’ll be innovators in multidisciplinary programs that will make our students more employable, for example. We also need to think hard about the different career paths our graduates take and provide more explicit opportunities to prepare them for tracks other than academia.

Please talk about the initiative that calls for improving the University’s intellectual climate through diversity.

Diversity—in all of its meanings—is a core value of Syracuse University. We want this community to be a comfortable place for people of all nationalities, all races, many different tongues, many different points of view, and political perspectives. SU will be a much more engaging and rich place when we learn how to embrace this diversity. We should reflect the community in which we live—both the Syracuse community and our international community.
      We need to hire more faculty of color, so that our students of color have immediate role models and other faculty of color feel they are valued members of our community. We can make sure that those of us who aren’t of color are sensitive to what it feels like to be excluded. If we are sensitive to that, we will no longer exclude anyone by virtue of our behaviors. There are things we can do to make this a more all-inclusive environment.

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