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Photo by Steve Sartori
Chancellor Nancy Cantor celebrates the start of the school year with student orientation leaders and Thomas V. Wolfe G’02 (left), senior vice president and dean of student affairs, at a Feel the Pulse event at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology downtown.

National Honor

Chancellor Receives Major Academic Award

When Chancellor Nancy Cantor arrived on campus five years ago, she led the SU community—students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and area residents—through a refreshingly open dialogue about where the University had been, where it stood, and what it had the potential to accomplish as an institution serving the public good. This exercise, dubbed Exploring the Soul of Syracuse, resulted in the articulation of SU’s essential, historic strength, which was adopted as the University’s vision, Scholarship in Action. It also launched SU on a trajectory to become a model of what a university might aspire to be in the 21st century. This summer, the Chancellor and SU were recognized for their accomplishments in that pursuit when she received the Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award, perhaps the highest honor designated for the head of an American educational institution. The award carries a $500,000 grant to use in support of the University’s academic priorities.

In naming Cantor and Robert J. Birgeneau of the University of California, Berkeley, as the 2008 winners of the award, Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, praised them for innovative leadership that has set new national standards of academic excellence and for their unwavering commitment to inclusiveness in higher education. “With intellectual ferocity, creativity, and sheer will, [they] have created for their students an even deeper, more engaging academic experience, aimed not just at sustaining America’s world-class system of higher education, but transforming it to equip students for success in a global knowledge economy,” Gregorian said. SU’s “ambitious” pursuit of Scholarship in Action was singled out for elevating the University’s academic reputation while bolstering regional economic development, enhancing secondary education and college readiness, and revitalizing the humanities, arts, and design through integration into community life. “I take [the award] to reflect the uncanny convergence of forces we are experiencing, as we leverage the historical and contemporary strengths of both our institution and our community, exploring together with our many partners what it means for a university to be a public good in a diverse, democratic society,” Cantor said.

The SU Board of Trustees also recognized Cantor’s dynamic leadership and vision this summer, awarding her a new contract that extends her term as Chancellor and President to 2014. “In just a few years, Nancy has worked with students, faculty, and staff to leverage SU’s historic strengths, foster innovation and creativity, and connect us in profound ways with the community, all of which has increased our quality and national visibility,” said Board Chair John Chapple ’75, announcing the new contract. Chapple expressed pride in Cantor’s selection for the Carnegie award, and credited her influence as a factor in the record number of applications received by SU during each of the past three years, as well as the progress of The Campaign for Syracuse University as it moves toward its $1 billion goal. “The board’s confidence in Nancy is affirmed by the Carnegie leadership award and numerous other external accolades,” Chapple said. “The University is fortunate to have a leader of her caliber.”  

Photos courtesy of SU Library and Jennifer Davis
cd images

  The Savada collection provides the University with a treasure trove of early 20th-century music.  


Historic Recording Collection »

Belfer Gift Turning Heads at 78 rpm

In July, a convoy of six 20-foot trucks from midtown Manhattan rolled up to the SU Warehouse in downtown Syracuse, bearing some 1,300 boxes containing about 200,000 78-rpm records. The collection is a gift to the University from the family of Morton J. Savada, the late proprietor of Records Revisited, a store dealing exclusively in these 10-inch disks, which were produced for home phonographs from 1895 to 1960. The store’s final inventory, valued at more than $1 million, is a treasure trove of early 20th-century music, with impressive holdings in such popular genres as big band, country and western, blues, gospel, polka, folk, Hawaiian, and Broadway. It also includes German, French, and Italian operatic recordings; rare 1920s titles from the African American-owned Black Swan label; Yiddish-language records produced for American immigrant audiences; and spoken-word recordings by writers and politicians, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “The full picture of what we’ve gained will not be clear until we have inventoried and catalogued the full collection,” says Melinda Dermody, head of the University Library’s Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive, who is seeking grant support to accomplish the massive undertaking.

Belfer’s renowned expertise in caring for antique recordings was a key factor in the choice of SU as a home for the collection, as was the family’s tie to the University through Shira Savada ’05, the collector’s granddaughter. The gift doubles the number of 78s in the Belfer archive, which now has more than any institution except the Library of Congress. Moreover, it marks The Campaign for Syracuse University’s acquisition of yet another world-class scholarly resource that is bound to enhance and transform teaching and research at SU with applications that crisscross disciplinary lines between aesthetics, cultural studies, history of technology, and the social sciences. Likely beneficiaries include the Setnor School of Music, the Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries, and such departments as African American studies, fine arts, and history, as well as various programs in language, literature, and culture. Campus filmmakers will gain opportunities for period scoring, which drew such directors as Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese to Records Revisited before failing health forced Savada to close the shop in 2005. The cataloguing, audio preservation, and digitization tasks posed by integrating the collection into the University Library system for scholarly access present cutting-edge learning opportunities in information studies. Broader access may be possible through the University’s recording labels, campus radio stations, and educational software developers.

Dean of Libraries Suzanne Thorin is especially appreciative of the opportunities for learning and scholarship that arrived on campus with this unique archive of 20th-century American culture. “This gift will bring history alive to our students and provide valuable research paths for our faculty,” she says. “In opening just the first few boxes, I have seen prime examples of pre-revolutionary Cuban folk music, Carl Sandburg reading his own poetry, and the work of such artists as Paul Robeson, Hazel Scott, and Duke Ellington. I believe the collection will benefit every school and college at Syracuse University.”

Community Engagement »

Student Research Provides Insights on Refugee Experience

Photo by Steve Sartori
Diego Medrano '08 and Elizabeth Backman '09 discuss their research work on the mental health needs of refugees.

Diego Medrano ’08 knows what it’s like to immigrate to America; his family fled terrorism in Peru and moved to the United States when he was a child. So when he had the opportunity to work with the Center for New Americans, which serves the local refugee community in Syracuse, he was excited to use his SU education to connect with Syracuse’s Burmese and Somali Bantu populations. “You can read about it; you can watch a documentary video,” Medrano says. “But to sit down in someone’s living room while their kids are in the kitchen making something that tastes and smells very strange but very good completely changes how you experience refugees in the area. It gives them a face.”

Through a research fellowship, Medrano and Elizabeth Bachman ’09 worked together last spring to study the mental health needs of refugees and how they deal with the stresses of making a home in a new country. “We wanted to find out if the problems they’re facing now are the same things they were dealing with in their home countries, or if they have new problems caused by coming to the United States,” says Bachman, a policy studies and economics major. “We hope the project benefits the people we interviewed as well as those in other refugee communities because, through our report, their story is being told to someone who can help.” 

Medrano and Bachman were among six students awarded fellowships by anthropology professor John Burdick and writing and rhetoric professor Stephen Parks. The professors created the fellowships in 2007 with a $5,000 grant from the Association of American Colleges and Universities, seeking to establish long-term partnerships between SU and community organizations. “This will allow us to see the impact of students working in the community and talk about University-community partnerships in a sustained way,” Parks says. “The students are part of this large attempt to track what Scholarship in Action provides to students, faculty, and the community.” In the future, Burdick and Parks hope to expand the initiative into an independent study class. “Our aim is to increase the number of students and the size of the grants, as well as the seriousness of the projects and their capacity to make things happen,” Burdick says.

According to Hope Wallis, program director at the Center for New Americans, the students’ efforts have already proved helpful. “Elizabeth and Diego were energetic, delightful, and self-starting, and I enjoyed working with them very much,” she says. “The information they provided helps our agency make another step toward more fully meeting the mental health needs of the refugees sent to us.”

Medrano, a political science and international relations major, is grateful for the research experience he gained and for the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the community. “We realize that refugees in the community and how they deal with mental health can be studied to death,” he says. “But we hope our research will help provide real solutions and real results.”

Photo by Steve Sartorilink
View of campus, looking west from College Place, with Slocum Hall in the foreground and Link+, Link Hall's new interdisciplinary wing behind it


Brick-and-Glass Report

Buildings Reflect Changing Face of Campus

Ah, autumn in upstate New York: football, pumpkin pie, a hike through the forest—and the sounds of jackhammers, cement mixers, and rivet guns picking up the pace on the SU campus to get the heavy work done before first snow. Here’s a roundup of the campus-in-progress, from ribbon cuttings to groundbreakings:

Open for Business
The Life Sciences Complex—This state-of-the-art learning and research center, sitting across College Place east of the Quad, became common home to the biology, chemistry, and biochemistry departments in August, opening up classroom and laboratory doors this semester. The $107 million, 225,000-square-foot complex awaits formal dedication in a November 7 ceremony.

Link+—Home to the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, Link Hall is roomier by 13,000 square feet with completion of Link+ ("plus"), a $7.3 million three-story addition that features new laboratories dedicated to structural engineering and indoor and outdoor environmental research.

Slocum Hall rehabilitation—Restored to yesterday’s elegance on the surface, and updated with tomorrow’s techno-guts within, Slocum Hall welcomed home the School of Architecture this summer. The three-year, $19 million makeover adds an auditorium and gallery and increased office and studio space to the 1918 National Register gem. The renovated atrium is not to be missed.

Hinds Hall rehabilitation—With the completion last winter of the phased makeover of Hinds Hall, a project that began in 2003, the School of Information Studies took possession, for the first time, of a single structure it can call its own.

Hard Hats Required
Ernie Davis Hall—Foundations were completed and concrete was poured this summer for a nine-story, 140,000-square-foot student-life complex at the northeast corner of Comstock and Waverly avenues. The University announced during the world premiere weekend of The Express that the $54 million residence would be named in honor of the SU football legend. Set for a fall 2009 opening, it will offer 250 students a variety of room options, dining choices, recreational facilities, and academic resources.

Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems—Work is well under way on this $31.55 million, high-tech environmental research center at East Washington and Almond streets. When completed in fall 2009, the center will inspire the SU-led consortium’s partners to think green in the comfort of a geothermally heated and cooled environment.

Carmelo K. Anthony Center—Ground has been broken next to Manley Field House for this world-class basketball training facility, which features two practice courts and locker room and office facilities for the men’s and women’s hoop programs. Anthony, captain of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic basketball team, got the ball bouncing with a $3 million gift for the facility, slated for a fall 2009 opening.

South Campus residences—Construction began this summer on a Colvin Street complex intended to house 432 juniors, seniors, and graduate students. The $28 million project will create five apartment houses and a sixth building with social space, recreational facilities, and other amenities. A private developer will build and operate the residential community under a 40-year lease granted by SU. Increasingly common in higher education residential construction, this is the first arrangement of its kind at SU.

Drawing Board
Couri Visitor Center and Museum—The brainchild of SU Board Chair Emeritus John A. Couri ’63, H’08, this project aims to transform part of Crouse-Hinds Hall into a reception area for prospective students and their families and a museum space dedicated to illustrating the University’s current activities and highlighting its 138-year history. Funding includes a $2 million gift from John and Elaine Couri.

Global Studies

M.B.A. Students Go Abroad for Business Insights

Photo courtesy of Casey Vock
Brooks Fiesinger G’09 (left) and Pat Nugent G’08 visit the Los Bronces copper mine in Chile.

Whether attracted to the explosion of businesses in Latin America or the expansion of U.S. companies to India, M.B.A. students at the Whitman School of Management are taking advantage of opportunities to explore burgeoning international economies. A group of 14 students ventured to Santiago, Chile, for a week last December to examine the region’s local and international business practices. A contingent of 11 students traveled in January to Bangalore, India, for a week-long program that served as the experiential portion of a new two-part course, Globalization of Innovation, offered by the Earl V. Snyder Center for Innovation Management. “Students need to be savvy about other cultures because international business is here to stay,” says Professor Ravi Shukla, who headed the Chile session. “I know firsthand that people tend to form misconceptions about other cultures, and there is no better way to break these misconceptions than to actually be there.”

Shukla chose Chile because Latin America is becoming a more formidable business force, with consistent economic growth and increasing entrepreneurship. In Santiago, students attended presentations and visited several corporations, including Farmacias Ahumada, Latin America’s largest pharmacy chain; Los Bronces copper mine; and a winery. They also volunteered at a local orphanage for a day to gain perspective on the ever-present poverty that is often in the shadows of flourishing businesses.

Professor Tridib Mazumdar organized the India program after teaching an innovation management course that focused on U.S. companies decentralizing their product development overseas. India hosts a large number of U.S. companies that have opened research and development centers there, including Nike, Microsoft, and Google. Students visited nine U.S. companies in India, where they attended presentations and met with industry leaders. Students combined their experiences with independent study on global innovation for a research paper, which was the second part of the course.

Both Shukla and Mazumdar want to make their programs regular components of the M.B.A. curriculum. This year, Shukla is leading the program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, while Mazumdar hopes his course can be offered every two years. “While every student, regardless of major, should spend time outside of the U.S., business students especially need sensitivity to different cultures and societies,” Mazumdar says. “There are misconceptions that businesses only expand globally to reduce costs, but on this trip students saw this is untrue. Many companies are interested in new markets and talents found in the local population.”

Casey Vock G’07, G’08, who went on the trip to Santiago, also encourages such international experiences. “Students need to have some level of understanding of cultures and norms different than their own,” Vock says. “Traveling the world and exploring different cultures and ways of doing business will be a part of life in our careers. It is important to get a taste of that during your M.B.A. education if you haven’t prior to joining your particular program.”


Photo courtesy of Syracuse Stage/Tony Faulkner
Ping Chong (left) and Timothy Bond at Syracuse Stage


Personal Narratives from Across the Globe Hit Home

José Miguel HernÁndez considers himself lucky. He won the first ticket in a lottery for a special visa program that allowed him to immigrate to the United States from Cuba in 1997. Hernández now calls Syracuse his home, but says it was a struggle to adapt to American culture without any knowledge of the English language, with no family in the United States, and with very little money. He is one of seven Syracuse residents who share their life stories and struggles in Tales from the Salt City, which premiered this fall at Syracuse Stage and runs through November 2. “I feel comfortable sharing my story because, while you have to keep certain things more private, I’m excited to share stories of my origin, dreams, and family with the community,” Hernández says.

Joining Hernández are local residents originally from Sudan, Macedonia, Mexico, and Cambodia, as well as the Onondaga Nation and Syracuse, all of varying age, ethnicity, and gender. “We wanted to have a nice diversity of people,” says director Ping Chong, who headed the casting process. The production offers an intimate look at these residents’ lives, exposing the difficulties they have faced as they continue to maintain cultural identities that embrace their rich, unique histories. “It’s a very different experience for our audience to see community members on stage and to hear their specific stories and see how they relate to their own lives and families,” says Syracuse Stage producing artistic director Timothy Bond.

Tales from the Salt City is part of Undesirable Elements, an ongoing theater series of community-specific oral histories examining the lives of people from one culture living in another. Chong has produced more than 40 shows in the series, taking him across the United States and to Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, France, and Italy. Chong and Bond collaborated more than 10 years ago on a piece for the series in Seattle. Bond shared his inspiration for producing such a work in Syracuse. “I think it’s the right idea for this moment,” he says. “There are so many immigrants who live here, and I want Syracuse Stage to become an important part of many different communities’ lives.”

Bond sees the performance as a way to bridge gaps between University and community life. The performance topic coincides with this year’s Syracuse Symposium theme of migration and also reflects the University’s advocacy of community engagement through Scholarship in Action. Both Chong and Bond are attuned to these connections, making them even more excited about the production’s timeliness. “I know the Chancellor wants a community whose members know each other better, that moves beyond stereotypes, and that has an appreciation of difference as opposed to a fear of difference,” Chong says. “This makes it an ideal project.” 

Chong and Bond are enthusiastic about their reunion and confident the production will be a transformative piece that looks beyond prejudices and embraces the similarities among Syracuse residents. “We all share so much in common,” Bond says, “even though the food might be a little different, the music might be a little different, or a language might be different. At the core of it all, we are the same—and I think this piece can create that for an audience.”    



Supporting Excellence »

Faculty Today Program Boosts Recruitment and Retention

Photo by Sarah Minor
Photojournalism professor David Sutherland critiques photos with Lucas McComb '10 and Rachel Selden '10 in London this semester. In 2006, Sutherland was named the Alexia Tsairis Chair in Documentary Photography. The Faculty Today program will "supercharge" future efforts to attract and retain such exceptional faculty.

In the classroom or on the field, Syracuse University must compete for students and athletes at the top of their game. The competition is just as fierce for highly ranked faculty members, who are key to the first-rate education SU provides. That is why The Campaign for Syracuse University set faculty excellence as its top priority, seeking to raise $300 million to endow professorships, chairs, and deanships. “Competition for top-ranked faculty is intense and will become even more so as members of the baby boom generation begin to retire,” says Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina. “We must significantly increase our pool of resources to hold on to the world-class educators we already have, and to attract promising newcomers who will help us fulfill our vision of Scholarship in Action.”

In response to this growing need to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, the University’s Board of Trustees allocated $30 million for the Faculty Today gift challenge program, designed to maximize the impact of campaign gifts by adding to the earnings of an endowed fund every year for five years—increasing SU’s competitive edge today, rather than years from now. Of the allocated amount, $25 million is earmarked for new “star” faculty and $5 million to support new chairs and professorships for outstanding scholars already on the faculty.

Here’s how it works: If a donor endows a faculty position with a $1 million gift, the income available in the first year will be approximately $40,000. The fund’s earnings are then combined with an additional $40,000 from the Faculty Today program, while $40,000 is also provided by the school or college—essentially tripling the available dollars. The resulting $120,000 can be used in the fund’s first year to offer a new or current faculty member an attractive salary package, as well as the sophisticated research facilities, graduate assistants, and other incentives often required.

The Faculty Today program is already having a significant impact on endowment gifts to The Campaign for Syracuse University. “A gift to endow a faculty position is extremely powerful,” says Diane Lyden Murphy '67, G'76, G'78, G'83, dean of the College of Human Ecology. “Generous support from donors like the Falks enables us to engage the kind of educators who are magnets not only for the best students but for other top-ranked faculty. Having the value of their gifts multiplied by Faculty Today allows us to fill these faculty positions that much faster.”

Supercharging Endowment Gifts

A number of endowment gifts have already been maximized by the Faculty Today program. Among them are:

The David B. Falk Professor of Sport Management Endowed Fund in the College of Human Ecology

The Abdallah H. Yabroudi Endowed Professorship in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science

For specific examples of how the Faculty Today program can triple the value of your gift to The Campaign for Syracuse University, visit


Photo of icefish larvae courtesy of Craig Albertson

As part of a new series in the magazine
focusing on research at Syracuse University,
here is a look at several projects under way.

Project: Military Service and Health Outcomes in Later Life
Investigators: Janet M. Wilmoth (principal),
Andrew S. London, Leonard M. Lopoo, Douglas A. Wolf

Department: Center for Policy Research
Sponsor: National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Amount Awarded: $589,607 (three years, 2007-10)
Background: This project uses data from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study to examine later-life health among those who served during different time periods. The analysis will identify whether health trajectories vary in relation to military service, wartime service, enlistment age, length of service, and military service-related disabilities. It will also consider the extent to which military service is a turning point in men’s lives that offsets early life disadvantage and shapes mid-life characteristics leading to different later-life health outcomes.
Impact: The findings will inform our understanding of current health status among veterans who served in the mid-20th century as well as the future health of those who have served during the all-volunteer era.

Project: Collaborative Research: How is Rifting Exhuming the Youngest High Pressure/Ultrahigh Pressure Rocks on Earth?
Investigators: Suzanne L. Baldwin (principal), Laura E. Webb, Paul Fitzgerald

Department: Earth Sciences
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Amount Awarded: $1,282,741 (five years, 2007-12)
Background: This is an SU-led collaborative, multidisciplinary study of the volcanic and seismically hazardous Australian-Woodlark plate boundary. It brings together earth scientists from Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, University of Texas at Austin, and University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as international collaborators.
Impact: Results will lead to an improved understanding of the processes involved in the geodynamic evolution of Earth’s plate boundaries as they transition from subduction to rifting to seafloor spreading. Funding supports the research of undergraduate and graduate students, and a postdoctoral fellow in the department.

Project: Developmental Mechanism for the Evolution of Bone Loss
Investigator: Craig Albertson

Department: Biology
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health/University of Oregon
Amount Awarded: $350,000 (five years, 2008-13)
Background: Because of their unique evolutionary history, certain lineages of fish that live around Antarctica evolved secondary bone loss and today possess a greatly reduced skeleton in which cartilage has replaced bone, and remaining bones have become lighter and spongier. We believe the genetic control of this evolved bone loss in Antarctic fish may involve undiscovered mechanisms relevant to human bone loss diseases, including osteoporosis.
Impact: The goal is to characterize the genes involved in the evolution of bone loss in Antarctic fishes, which may lead to the identification of new genes and mechanisms involved in human bone degeneration diseases.

Project:  Collaborative Research: History of Cartography in the 20th Century
Investigator: Mark Monmonier

Department: Geography
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Amount Awarded: $355,130 (five years, 2008-13)
Background: Continues NSF funding for Monmonier’s work as editor and for support staff in producing a million-word, 1,500-page encyclopedia to be published by the University of Chicago Press.
Impact: The encyclopedia, tentatively scheduled for publication in 2014, will provide a definitive history of mapmaking and use between 1900 and 2000.

Project: Frontier Polymeric Biomaterials Research
Investigator: Patrick T. Mather

Department: Biomedical and Chemical Engineering
Sponsor: New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research
Amount Awarded: $750,000 (three years, 2008-11)
Background: The Syracuse Biomaterials Institute, established in fall 2007, is an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional group that focuses on research in biomaterials, smart medical devices, and biological/tissue-engineered constructs.
Impact: This award enables Professor Mather’s group to aggressively pursue high-risk, high-payoff research in polymeric biomaterials, ranging from smart plastics for orthodontics to tissue engineering scaffolds for injury repair and biomineralization for bone synthesis. The award supports a multitude of projects to be executed by postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduates from the department, leading to a significant impact in the area of research skill development.

—From Staff Reports   

Research Snapshots


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