Steve Sartori

The Shaw Era

Core Values
Kenneth A. “Buzz” Shaw, former president of the University of Wisconsin System, becomes Syracuse University’s 10th Chancellor and President. Shaw’s first initiative is to lead the SU community in redefining the institution’s mission and vision. He articulates five guiding institutional core values: quality, caring, diversity, innovation, and service, which form the basis for the University’s new quest to become the nation’s leading student-centered research university. A new paradigm is created that makes student learning the University’s highest priority.

Student-Centered Research
Shaw introduces a major plan to improve faculty roles and rewards. Thirty-three initiatives are laid out to help create a more learning- and student-centered culture based on the core values. “Here’s what I envision we will be like four years from now....We will be a student-centered research university. Our focus on teaching and excellence will be clearly apparent.

—Shaw in his February
address to the University

Restructuring and Recovery
Restructuring of the University begins to take shape. Six-hundred staff and faculty positions are eliminated, allowing the University to recover from a deficit and prepare for an economic downturn that occurs just as student enrollment is reaching record-low percentages nationally. “Back in Wisconsin they make a lot of sausage. Even with the most carefully chosen and healthy ingredients…sausage making is an ugly process to witness. But after all the slicing, chopping, blood, and gore, the end process can be delicious, nutritious, and of remarkable quality.”

—Shaw on the restructuring process, quoted in the Syracuse Herald American

Service Learning
The Center for Public and Community Service is established to promote volunteer service as a fundamental part of the student learning experience. “This is integral to what we do as a university, and it comes at a time when the country is renewing its efforts to involve young people in service to the nation.”

—Shaw, quoted in the
Syracuse Post-Standard

Teaching Excellence
With a gift from the estate of Dr. L. Douglas Meredith ’26, Shaw creates the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorships for Teaching Excellence to recognize outstanding faculty teaching.

National Honor
SU receives the nationally prestigious Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Faculty Development to Enhance Undergraduate Learning in recognition of the University’s pioneering work under Shaw’s leadership.

Athletic Leadership
Shaw is elected chair of the NCAA’s first Division I board of directors for his academic and athletic leadership abilities and previous success with NCAA issues. “Whenever we had a problem solving something, we would call on Buzz. He goes right at it. He very quickly can determine what are real problems and what are perceived problems and what kind of resources we have to go about solving them. He also remembers his sense of humor.”

—Sam Smith, president of Washington State University and member of NCAA board of directors, quoted in the Syracuse Post-Standard

Weathering the Storm
Labor Day Storm: Despite major storm damage, the University continues to function under Shaw’s leadership and with the contributions of the many students, faculty, and staff who assisted in community-wide cleanup efforts.

Wise Advice
Shaw writes The Successful President: “Buzzwords” on Leadership—a top-selling book published by the American Council on Education.

Envisioning the Future
The Vision Fund is introduced to promote visionary and creative ideas to improve teaching and learning through individual and departmental grants for faculty.

Space Plan
Shaw announces that the University will implement a $150 million to $185 million Space Plan over the next five years aimed at meeting academic and student support space needs on campus. The plan calls for adding 350,000 to 400,000 square feet of academic space and renovating nearly 350,000 square feet of existing space.

Skating Away
The Marilyn and Bill Tennity Ice Skating Pavilion is dedicated, providing recreational skating and organized activities for SU
students, faculty, staff, and their families.

Fund-Raising Success
The seven-year Commitment to Learning campaign—the largest fund-raising endeavor in Syracuse University history to date—concludes with a total of more than $370 million in gifts, pledges, and corporate and foundation support.

Good Neighbors
The Crouse-Marshall Project partners SU with the University Hill Corporation, the Crouse-Marshall Business Association, and U.S. Congressman James Walsh for a beautification and renovation project of the University/ Marshall Street area.

New Combination
Shaw oversees the merging of the School of Social Work, the College for Human Development, and the College of Nursing to form the College of Human Services and Health Professions.

Truth in Tragedy
September 11: In a national crisis, Shaw brings together the campus community for reflection and discussion. “How might we go about fulfilling our role as pursuers of truth? First, let’s acknowledge that truth is evasive....It is very tempting, especially under stress, to hold tight to a set of beliefs while ignoring any information that runs counter to them. But that way has led to countless errors in human judgment and much worse.”

—Shaw, quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Positive Checkup
Change, the magazine of higher learning that is published by the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation under the editorial guidance of the American Association for Higher Education,
examines the University’s progress since winning the 1996 Hesburgh award. “I found an institution that has been brilliantly successful over the last 10 years or so in creating consensus for its refined mission,
building an infrastructure to support it, and changing its campus culture.”

—Barbara Wright, “The Syracuse Transformation: On Becoming a Student-Centered Research University,” Change,
July/August issue

Academic Plan
Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund introduces a new Academic Plan for the University. Its initiatives are aimed at securing the foundation of SU’s student-centered research mission and establishing signature experiences that will distinguish a Syracuse education.

Funny Hat, Good Cause
Shaw is featured in Buzz the Big Orange Hat, a children’s book. The book, created by SU student volunteers, is a fund-raising project for the SU Literacy Corps. “It was apparent from the first time I met the Chancellor that, for him, this is not a job but an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of every student who passes through the doors of Syracuse University, and to make the world, in his own way, a little better.”

—Michael Bevivino ’03, one of the book’s co-creators

SU celebrates its first-ever NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

Peer Recognition
Shaw receives the 2003 Chief Executive Leadership Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, District II. The award recognizes the ability
to create vision and inspire others to succeed.

Newhouse Expansion
Donald E. Newhouse ’51, president of Advance Communications, announces the S.I. Newhouse Foundation’s gift of $15 million toward construction of a third building in SU’s public communications complex. Newhouse III will increase available classroom and office space and provide new facilities designed to meet the challenges of the digital communications age.

Naming Gift
On June 24, Shaw announces that Wall Street businessman Martin J. Whitman ’49 has pledged one of the largest gifts ever made to the University to the School of Management. In Whitman’s honor, the school is named the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.

Transition Time
Chancellor Shaw prepares to turn over leadership of the University to his successor, Chancellor-Elect Nancy Cantor.

—Sara Mortimer


Steve Sartori

Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw talks with a student in Hendricks Chapel.
Until he taught high school while working toward a master’s degree in education at the University of Illinois, Kenneth A. “Buzz” Shaw ( took for granted that people thought well of him. After all, what’s not to like about a smart, popular, good-looking guy who’s pragmatic like his mother, honest like his father, and great at sports? “As a kid growing up and as a high school student, everyone liked me,” says Shaw, who will retire in August after completing 13 years as Syracuse University’s Chancellor and President. “At least I thought they did.” As a teacher, however, Shaw learned from his students that not everybody responded quite so positively to him. It was a difficult realization, but crucial to his personal and professional development. “I needed to understand what it means to do the right thing, even when it’s not necessarily the popular thing,” he says.A second formative lesson came during graduate school at Purdue University, where Shaw earned a Ph.D. degree. A professor noted that Shaw may not be cut out to be a counselor or a school psychologist, even though that was his professional aspiration at the time. “He saw that my real interests were in social organizations and seeing groups change,” Shaw says. “I was interested in understanding more about how society works.” The professor allowed Shaw flexibility in choosing courses and a dissertation topic, which helped direct him toward a lifelong career as a leader in higher education. “That experience shaped me a great deal,” Shaw says, “because my graduate studies helped me form a philosophy about how people change and, more significantly, about how institutions can transform themselves when people work together for the common good. When you start looking at things that way, you no longer seek to ‘save the world’ one person at a time. Instead, you seek to change your piece of the world by trying to improve the things that make the world work—the institutions, the way decisions are reached, and the quality of those decisions.”
Steve Sartori

U.S. Congressman James Walsh, center, discusses part of the Marshall Street renovation with the Chancellor and Mary Ann Shaw.

Shaw has led the way in improving Syracuse University since 1991, when he became SU’s 10th Chancellor and President. At the time, the University faced a $38 million budget deficit and enrollment challenges. “What appealed to me about Syracuse was, first of all, it’s a distinguished school. Secondly, it had a number of financial problems that, if ameliorated, could result in even better things happening, and if not dealt with, could become a serious problem,” he says. “I was presented with an institution with a great deal of stature that was sure of its values, but needed some changes. Syracuse had all the ingredients to get much better. And that’s the kind of place I’ve always liked to go to—a place that is a challenge, but not an impossibility.”

Three months into his term, Shaw—then a 14-year veteran chief executive in higher education—addressed the situation head-on, asking the University community to support an ambitious plan to refocus SU on its strengths and promote student learning in new ways. “I thought it was important, first, that the University community be reminded of what its values have been,” Shaw says. He articulated SU’s core values of quality, caring, diversity, innovation, and service, embracing them as the defining characteristics that form the institution’s foundation. “Values push you to continually improve, and to do it in ways that enhance those values,” he says. “These are our values, and they guide us today, just as they did 13 years ago. We’ve improved in every one of them, but we should always be trying to do better.”

From the beginning, Shaw established an open atmosphere regarding the University’s financial situation. “The conditions were not crisis-like in dimension at all,” he says. “But we had problems that, if not dealt with, could lead to a disaster. People needed to know that. And they needed to know there was no immediate, painless fix.” A series of forums was held to share the specifics of SU’s challenges and invite input from the campus community. “I felt that transparency was necessary regarding our financial problems,” Shaw says. “People were going to be asked to make sacrifices, and if they didn’t know what the conditions were, it wouldn’t be fair to them. I helped to publicly shape the problem, and provided a means by which people could express their views.”

Steve Sartori

Chancellor Shaw poses for photographs with graduates on the steps of Hendricks Chapel, a Commencement tradition for him.

Louis Marcoccia ’68, G’69, senior vice president for business, finance, and administrative services and a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet, commends Shaw’s commitment to obtaining feedback from the University’s constituencies. “His approach has been to have concepts and related guidelines identified that best support the institution’s priorities, and to allow for sufficient discussion to occur to achieve acceptance of those concepts,” Marcoccia says. “Most importantly, he understands and communicates the need for financial discipline and planning, and their roles in successfully leading the University.” As a result of Shaw’s leadership and clearly defined institutional goals, SU not only recovered from its financial difficulties, but also made strides toward its vision of becoming the nation’s leading student-centered research university. Syracuse is one of few higher education institutions to have improved nearly every facet of campus life during challenging economic times, even as the University faced budget cuts of more than $60 million and the loss of 600 jobs. In the early ’90s, Shaw resisted the trend to lower admissions standards to boost enrollment. Instead, he led the University through an institutional restructuring that reduced enrollment, strengthened the educational program by providing greater attention to student needs, and brought a renewed emphasis to teaching.

“Chancellor Shaw has the requisite traits of authentic leadership,” says Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “He’s visionary, a risk taker, and action oriented, and is guided by purpose, values, and integrity.” Wells, who has worked closely with Shaw as a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet, describes him as a strategic thinker who has exceptional analytical skills and an amazing ability to identify and implement solutions. “He has a unique style that commands respect, yet at the same time puts people at ease and allows them to share their ideas and opinions freely,” Wells says.
Today, the University is stronger than ever—both academically and financially. The learning environment has been revitalized, facility and technology improvements abound, student services are more responsive, and SU has a greater national presence than ever before. Shaw’s leadership has been crucial to all these achievements. “Buzz Shaw is one of a handful of absolutely first-class leaders in higher education,” says University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala G’70, who served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison when Shaw was president of the University of Wisconsin System. “He is a skilled manager and a national leader who has demonstrated his commitment to excellence.”

Steve Sartori

The Chancellor has fun with members of the football team in the locker room. He often composed humorous poems for the team and read them after a victory at the Carrier Dome.
SU’s transformation has been well-recognized by its peers in higher education. In 1996, the University received the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Faculty Development to Enhance Undergraduate Learning, and an Outstanding Institutional Advising Award from the National Academic Advising Association. In 2003, Shaw was honored with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education District II Chief Executive Leadership Award. Additional measures of success include growth in financial resources, greater student and faculty diversity, stronger student enrollment and increased retention rates, and continued affordability. “Things come about because of the tone and example Buzz sets,” says Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund. “By being confident and approachable, he makes people believe things can become better. So they draw together and things do get better. He empowers people to think creatively and do their best. He’s a very good listener. And he’s great at managing the group process so that everybody feels their points are valued.”

Shaw’s executive abilities extend beyond the SU campus. He has assumed an active leadership role with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, chairing both the basketball issues committee and the Division I board of directors. He also chairs the Commissioner’s Advisory Council on Higher Education for the New York State Education Department, serves on the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and is a member of the Council on Competitiveness and the TIAA-CREF Hesburgh award jury. His book, The Successful President: “Buzzwords” on Leadership, was published in 1999 and became a top seller in the American Council on Education/Oryx Press Series on Higher Education. “For me, it’s important to know I’ve made a difference—or at least tried to—in the lives of the people closest to me and the people I work with, as well as in the community and the world I live in,” says Shaw, who counts loyalty, honesty, and trusting others among his own core values. “And that’s all good. But if you really believe you’re going to make a difference, you have to be willing to spend the time. You’ve got to make more than a regular commitment, or all you’ll get is regular results.”

Steve Sartori

The Shaws are partners at work and at home.

A Well-Matched Team
Before coming to Syracuse, Shaw was president of the University of Wisconsin System (1986-91). He also has served as chancellor of the Southern Illinois University System (1979-86), president of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (1977-79), and vice president for academic affairs and dean of Towson State University in Maryland (1969-77). “Each of those encounters provided me with great teachers and formative experiences,” Shaw says. “But I think one of the biggest contributions to whatever successes I’ve had is my willingness to take professional risks. Any philosophy I have today is a result of the risks I took and the successes and failures I experienced.”

Of all the life events and relationships that helped make Shaw who he is, he was perhaps most profoundly affected by his 42-year relationship with his wife, Mary Ann, who has worked side-by-side with him at SU in her role as associate of the Chancellor (see “Rewarding Partnership,” bottom of this page). “I think any time a person can have a close, intimate, long-term relationship with someone else, he grows from it,” Shaw says. “And ours has been just that. You can’t help but influence each other a great deal.”

Steve Sartori

The Shaws meet with a family during Opening Weekend 2002.

Throughout their partnership, Mary Ann has supported him in embracing new professional opportunities—simultaneously pursuing her own education and career—even when doing so uprooted their family and provided no guarantees. “Her earliest contribution came at a pivotal time,” Shaw says. He was 29 years old, had a Ph.D. degree from Purdue, and was working at Illinois State University as an assistant to the president. “I loved the place, greatly respected the president, and thought I’d probably stay there forever doing 75 percent mundane jobs—and maybe once in a while something really substantive,” he says. Just after their third child was born, Shaw received a call from Jim Fisher, a respected former colleague who was the new president at Towson State. He offered Shaw a temporary position as acting vice president for academic affairs, but couldn’t promise it would become permanent. Still, Fisher encouraged Shaw to accept, expressing great faith in his blossoming leadership abilities. “I talked to Mary Ann, who was, of course, feeding the baby, and asked her what she thought. She said, without hesitation, ‘I think we should go,’” Shaw recalls. “So we sold our house, hopped in our Ford Falcon with the three kids—one who cried the whole way—and drove across the country to Maryland. And that wasn’t the last time Mary Ann allowed me to take risks.”
Mary Ann Shaw expresses equal respect for her husband and their partnership. “He is my best friend, and always has been,” she says. “I think we really do depend on each other and inspire each other.” She admires his ability to bring out the best in people, whether in professional relationships, friendships, or as a father. “He’s very accepting of others, but also very encouraging and motivating,” she says. “He’s always supportive of people wanting to spread their wings and take up new opportunities. And he has outstanding judgment.”

Steve Sartori

Chancellor Shaw gives a donation to students collecting contributions for Dollar Day at the Dome, a fund-raiser for United Way.

Eleanor Ware G’85, SU’s senior vice president for human services and government relations, has worked closely with the Shaws throughout their years at the University. A member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet and secretary to the Board of Trustees, Ware respects the Chancellor as a highly skilled, multifaceted leader with a gift for understanding and assessing people and situations and resolving problems. “Buzz and Mary Ann are the perfect team for heading a university like Syracuse, and their contributions to University life are evident everywhere,” she says. “They demonstrate their caring and service through the countless hours they give to hundreds of events at their home, on campus, at Lubin and Greenberg houses, and across the country. They have also demonstrated their interest in the welfare of faculty and staff by establishing more family-friendly benefits and workplace policies.” Ware believes the Shaws have significantly changed SU’s environment and culture. “It’s a more welcoming place, and its processes are handled in a more open and collaborative manner,” she says. “The University has come to reflect their genuine warmth and graciousness.”

Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement John D. Sellars is also impressed by the powerful partnership shared by the Chancellor and Mary Ann Shaw. “They complement and balance each other and make a beautiful team,” says Sellars, a Chancellor’s Cabinet member who worked for three other college presidents before coming to Syracuse in 2001. He says the Shaws share a genuine respect for people that forms a strong foundation for all they do. “At heart, they are humanitarians,” he says. “So when Buzz talks about topics like diversity, it isn’t because it’s the popular thing to do. It’s because it is the right thing to do—the caring thing. That’s a solid platform from which to lead a university.”

According to their three children—all married with kids of their own and living in the Midwest—the Shaws have been as successful at family life as they have been in professional life. “I am tremendously proud of them,” says son Ken Shaw, an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Accountancy. “While they have achieved so much, they have also embraced a strong and unwavering commitment to family. I doubt any of us kids realized my father had a stressful job. He never dwelled on work while at home. Instead, he was an enthusiastic participant in all our activities. He coached all our teams, played every sport imaginable with us, and made us pancakes for dinner on nights my mom had class.” Daughters Susan Gleason and Sara Shaw Buffett echo their brother’s comments, referring to their parents as “amazing” and describing their home as one that was always graced with love, encouragement, and fun. “Growing up, our home was a happy retreat filled with warmth and humor,” Gleason says. A representative of the youngest generation in the Shaw family also offers up some words of admiration about her grandparents: At her elementary school in a Chicago suburb, 7-year-old Aly Buffett is learning about the six pillars of character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. “Nana and Pappy are the six pillars—for sure!” she says.

Mike Okoniewski, SU Athletics

Chancellor Shaw fields a question from ESPN reporter Greg Roberts during halftime of a football game at the Carrier Dome.
Looking Ahead
As Shaw makes way for his successor, Chancellor-Elect Nancy Cantor, SU is poised for continued success with two transformations already taking shape. Vice Chancellor Freund has introduced a comprehensive Academic Plan that identifies institutional priorities, along with initiatives to ensure greater student and faculty success, refocus graduate education, and enhance the campus’s intellectual climate through diversity. Also under way is the Space Plan, which will result in the addition of nearly 400,000 square feet of new academic space and the renovation of nearly 350,000 square feet of existing space. “I think our next logical step is to reinvigorate our efforts to improve Syracuse University and—in Buzz’s honor—to trump him. He’s the kind of guy who would love that,” Freund says. “What he would hope for the future is that it be even brighter than he’s made it. He would want nothing less. I believe he would bask in the glow of our continued success.”
Retiring SU Board of Trustees Chair Joseph O. Lampe ’53, G’55, who led the national search for Shaw’s successor, notes that Shaw will be sincerely missed and difficult to replace. “Chancellor Shaw is a gifted leader who combines academic vision with an informed understanding of what can be realistically accomplished,” he says. “His relationships with members of the University community, the city, and the Board of Trustees are always based on honesty and respect, and are an outstanding model for all to follow. From the start, he brought together all facets of the University to create a common plan, and gained support to accomplish the necessary changes, charting a course that proved to be the right one.”
Steve Sartori

Board of Trustees Chair-Elect John A. Couri ’63, left, Chair Joseph O. Lampe ’53, G’55, second from right, and Chancellor Shaw welcome Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb ’99 to the Board of Trustees.

After Shaw steps down, he will take a year’s sabbatical to prepare a series of lectures on leadership (see “Defining Leadership,” bottom of this page). He will then return to campus to teach and assume other responsibilities assigned to him by the new Chancellor and the Board of Trustees. “The desire to try something different has defined my life,” he says. “I knew I had to retire sometime, and I wanted to do it while I still had a lot of enthusiasm, and before I was worn out from being Chancellor, so I could try something new and enjoy more time with my family.” Shaw also looks forward to a continued commitment to Syracuse and Central New York. “Mary Ann and I feel as if we’re natives of the area,” he says. “We’ve lived in a lot of different places and traveled a lot, but there is something very appealing about Syracuse that reminds me of the Midwest. The people are friendly, they work hard, love their families, and love the institutions they work for. There is also a kind of East Coast interest in culture, the arts, and ideas, which makes it all the more appealing. We have felt welcome here.”

Shaw celebrates SU’s successes, but won’t take personal credit for the improvements that have occurred during his tenure—attributing them instead to the entire University community. “We’ve done a lot of good things together,” he says. “We’re more focused, we’re more student-centered, and we’re more able to deal with the challenges that come before us. I’m really proud and grateful that I had a chance to be a part of it. But it has been ‘us,’ not ‘me,’ that made it all happen.”

Just as the institution has evolved during Shaw’s time here, the Chancellor himself has been changed by the experience. “I’m older, for one thing,” he says. “I’ve noticed, anyway, that a lot of other people around me are older than they were 13 years ago, so I have to assume that I’m older, too!” Shaw also believes he’s more at peace with himself, more self-confident, and better able to trust his instincts than when he was younger. “But I don’t think my values have changed all that much. I’m probably not much different than I was at 18, really, except I hope I’m a little smarter,” he says. “At the end of all this is the gratitude I feel for being here, for now having the opportunity to teach, and for being blessed with a good marriage, good children, and good health. I have a lot to be thankful for.”

Beyond that, he offers a few words of advice to his successor, saying simply this: Take the job seriously, but have fun. “Make a strong commitment,” he says, “and love the place.” For Shaw, that approach has proven to be a winning formula, and it’s advice straight from the heart. For more information on Chancellor Shaw, go to

Community Commitment
During their time at SU, both the Chancellor and Mary Ann Shaw have been active participants in community affairs. He chairs the Metropolitan Development Association and has served as chair of its health care and educational services committee. He also serves on the boards of the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, Unity Mutual Life Insurance Co., the University Hill Corporation, the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, and the Policy Council of Success by Six, and is a member of the executive committee of Syracuse 20/20.
Mary Ann Shaw’s commitments to the Syracuse community include serving in leadership roles for such organizations as Syracuse Stage, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, and the Central New York Community Foundation. She chairs the steering committee for the development of the Central New York Children’s Hospital at University Hospital. She also contributed to the development of Success by Six, was a 10-year member of the board of directors for United Way of Central New York, and served on the boards of the Ronald McDonald House, WCNY Public Broadcasting, and Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse. Earlier this year, she received an Achievement Award from the Syracuse Post-Standard, one of 10 people to be recognized for
contributions to the community.



Defining Leadership

Steve Sartori

Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw first became interested in leadership while a graduate student at Purdue University, where he studied sociology, psychology, and counseling. A few years later, he put what he’d learned into practice as vice president for academic affairs and dean at Towson State University in Maryland.
Leadership has been an abiding interest of his ever since.
“Effective leaders are good at helping people come to a collective vision, at being able to articulate that vision and tell that story, at managing the vision, and at making decisions consistent with that vision,” Shaw says. “Some people want to be leaders, but they don’t want to ‘do’ leadership. They get caught up in the visibility, and it goes to their heads. In like fashion, they fall apart when they’re criticized. I call this the fame/shame syndrome.
“Effective leaders want to ‘do’ leadership,” he continues. “They understand that it’s not an end in itself—it’s a means to an end. And the end is hopefully creating some positive change—making the institution, or making the world, or wherever you are, better because of your presence.”
Which leaders have most influenced him? Shaw points to Robert Bone, former president of Illinois State University, from whom he learned the importance of kindness; and Jim Fisher, former president of Towson State, from whom he learned the importance of communication and having a story that people could support. He also was influenced by President Lyndon B. Johnson. “Of all the presidents I’ve observed, he was probably the best at making things happen,” Shaw says. “He understood his institution.” Among other influences, he cites writings by John Gardner and Warren Benis, and Machiavelli’s The Prince. “I don’t buy into that whole concept of what Machiavelli says, but there’s wisdom there about human nature that we forget at our own peril,” the Chancellor says.

In 1999, Shaw wrote a book of his own, The Successful President: “Buzzwords” on Leadership, which sold more than 2,000 copies, making it one of the top sellers in the American Council on Education/Oryx Press Series on Higher Education. Unlike many books on leadership, which deal with the subject on an abstract level, Shaw’s is a how-to book, aimed at current and prospective college presidents.

Shaw has received numerous awards for leadership, including the Chief Executive Leadership Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (District II), the Young Leader in Education Award from Phi Delta Kappa, and five honorary degrees.

During his yearlong sabbatical, which starts in August, Shaw will prepare a series of lectures on leadership, covering topics that any leader, or anyone who aspires to be one, needs to know. The lectures will be web-accessible and available on compact disc. Once completed, they will constitute courses that can be taught just about anywhere. “If a group in Maxwell wants such a class, then it’s leadership in government; if the Whitman School wants it, it’s leadership in business; if the School of Education wants it, it’s leadership in education,” Shaw says. “A lot of leadership is the same whatever the field: Good leadership requires group skills. It requires the ability to understand social institutions and to figure out how to effect change. It requires a great deal of self-confidence, along with humility, and a certain amount of mental stability. It also requires the ability to share as much of the limelight as possible with other people and make sure that successes are shared.

“In class, we’ll focus on the nuances of a specific field, so that students come to understand the fundamentals of leadership and how they apply to what the students want to do.”

—Sandi Tams Mulconry

Rewarding Partnership

Steve Sartori

Since she was a little girl selling lemonade from a neighborhood street corner, Mary Ann Shaw has been driven by a love for organizing, a gift for getting people involved, and a desire to get things done. In her role as associate of Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw, a position she has held since 1991, Mary Ann Shaw has used her interests and talents to benefit the University in such areas as alumni relations, fund raising, event planning, and the development of programs. She has also served as a liaison to the Syracuse community. “I don’t look at challenges as problems,” she says. “I look at them as opportunities. I focus on what needs to be done, what strategies and resources are needed to do it, and who needs to be involved—and then, I just enjoy it.”

Shaw had often worked in partnership with her husband during his career, although never before in an official, full-time capacity. “We really enjoy working together,” she says. “We’re both interested in the development of people and have dedicated our professional lives to education and improving educational opportunity. The opportunity to work together as closely as we have here has been very rewarding.”

Before her appointment at SU, Shaw was vice president of fund development and marketing for the United Way of Dane County in Madison, Wisconsin. Prior to that, she was director of the Reading Center in Edwardsville, Illinois. Also in her capacity as a reading specialist, she was a visiting lecturer at Southern Illinois University. Born in Chicago, she earned a B.S. degree in sociology and an M.S. degree in education from Towson State University in Maryland. “Somehow my mom found time to earn a master’s degree and run a successful reading clinic while raising us,” says son Ken Shaw. “I suspect she’s read books such as The Poky Little Puppy and The Cat in the Hat to kids a thousand times, and has done as much to promote literacy as anyone.”

Of her many valued contributions to the University, Shaw may be most recognized for her role in establishing the Center for Public and Community Service (CPCS), which promotes and facilitates service learning as a fundamental part of the educational experience. “I’m very proud of CPCS because it led to a blossoming of service learning on campus and its integration into the academic curriculum as a powerful learning tool,” she says. Shaw also takes pride in having helped found the SU Literacy Corps, which trains student volunteers as tutors in local schools. “Some children in our community will have so few opportunities presented to them in their lives, and the one thing that will make a difference is their ability to get an education,” she says. “Learning to read can change them forever.”
CPCS director Pamela Kirwin Heintz ’91 sees her as a mentor and friend, as well as a strong leader who has had an enormous impact on the University. “Mary Ann is a visionary who has patience and tenacity to make her vision a reality by empowering others to do what they do best,” Heintz says. “She is one of the most genuine individuals I have ever worked with.”

Shaw was also instrumental in creating Arts Adventure (recently renamed Pulse), a program designed to increase student participation in cultural activities. She helped develop the relationship between SU and the High School for Leadership & Public Service in New York City. In addition, she has served on various human resources task forces, striving to improve the work life of SU employees.

Retiring SU Board of Trustees Chair Joseph O. Lampe ’53, G’55 describes her work with donors, students, and the community as “unparalleled.” “She has participated and aided in raising many millions of dollars for the University,” he says. “Her vision, support, and organization in establishing CPCS has resulted in students, faculty, and staff donating more than 500,000 hours of work each year.”

Following the Chancellor’s retirement, Shaw looks forward to spending more time with the couple’s three children and seven grandchildren, as well as enjoying such simple pleasures as gardening and reading. She plans to continue her commitment to several community projects, and may write a book that provides tools to teach young children to read. “This experience has been extremely rewarding for both of us,” she says. “We’ve met wonderful people and feel very fortunate. We both feel deeply connected to SU and the whole region, and we always will.”

—Amy Speach Shires