SU People


Susan Kahn


Eric Beattie |
Building Commitment

Eric Beattie’s walks around campusmay elicit quizzical looks from passersby, but those who know him just chuckle. SU’s director of design and construction is often seen looking up. He’s not daydreaming or distracted by something in flight—he’s considering the work on the University’s newest buildings or the latest renovations and upkeep. “When I go out on campus, all of these projects are flashing through my mind,” Beattie says.

The Office of Design and Construction is responsible for all the University’s physical planning, which currently includes the new Life Sciences Complex, the Newhouse School addition, the Syracuse Center of Excellence headquarters downtown, and research labs on campus, as well as renovation and maintenance projects. “It’s a very exciting time,” Beattie says. “We’re doing the work efficiently so we’ll receive the benefit of these facilities as quickly as we can.”

These long-term projects require perseverance—an attribute that Beattie learned while growing up and working on his family’s beef cattle and Morgan horse farm in Manchester, Vermont. Being practical and finding economical solutions to problems were also lessons from that time in his life. “Those ideals serve me well in my work now,” he says. His interest in solving problems with science and technology led him to a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Vermont. After graduation, he worked for a private engineering firm and later became the university engineer  at his alma mater. He then served as the director of planning and construction at Williams College in Massachusetts. While there, he earned an M.B.A. degree at the University of Massachusetts.

When Beattie started at SU in 2003, many projects, such as the new School of Management building, were already under way. Others, like The Warehouse—a downtown building purchased by SU to house the School of Architecture during renovations at Slocum Hall—developed after he arrived. “It’s satisfying to serve the faculty and staff and help them build their dreams,” says Beattie, who notes the work of his staff and credits their commitment. “The people here show such wonderful dedication to the University and campus.”

As the office continues to meet the building needs of the campus, Beattie has a personal vision for the University’s spaces. “As much as Syracuse is already a beautiful campus, I want to find ways to make it even more beautiful and more pedestrian friendly,” says Beattie, who enjoys cycling and cross-country skiing with his wife, Donna, and their three children. “Even though Syracuse is an urban environment, it should always have spaces for people to get outside and recreate. It’s just as important to well-being as learning.”  


John Dowling

Sarah Santiago |
Legal Workings

Third-year College of Law student Sarah Santiago admitshaving a pretty high threshold for stress. Along with her studies in 2004-05, she held an externship with the City of Syracuse’s Department of Law, participated in a national moot court competition and an international arbitration competition that required months of preparation, was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society, worked on the Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce, and hunted for a summer job. “It’s very stressful and it’s not easy, but you have to have a healthy attitude,” says Santiago, who compares a busy workload to a good workout. “If you lift weights, your tolerance builds.”

Born and raised in Hawaii, Santiago chose SU for these types of activities that keep her interested outside of her studies. “Syracuse has a good, well-rounded international program,” says Santiago, who has an interest in international trade. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a certificate in French from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. After her undergraduate work, Santiago spent three years in France, most of it studying French literature and language at the Sorbonne. “It was academically challenging, but also relaxing because I was doing something I really enjoy,” she says. She made many friends and spent time with their families, becoming immersed in the culture. “Without that great experience, I wouldn’t have been able to do some of the things I’m doing now,” she says. Her fluency in French helped her land a job at the Paris branch of Lovells, a British-based international law firm, where she worked in the civil litigation department, researching and translating legal documents in summer 2004.

During her second year of law school, Santiago moved into public law with the Syracuse externship, researching cases and writing memos in the city attorney’s office in civil matters. Last summer, she worked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Syracuse, assisting prosecutors in the civil and criminal divisions. The combination of experiences allowed her to view the legal profession in public and private settings, and in city, federal, and international jurisdictions. “I saw how they function independently and dependently on each other,” she says. “I saw what I could do with a law degree.”

Santiago also took opportunities to test her legal skills in competition. She was part of a first-year moot court team from the international sections of the first-year legal writing program that competed in Toronto against two other U.S. schools and three from Canada. As a second-year student, she participated in the Thomas Tang National Moot Court Competition, organized by the national chapter of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, and the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna. In the Vienna competition, 900 students from around the world argued both sides in a commodity dispute between two companies. Santiago won third place for best oral advocate. “It was the first time SU brought back an award, so it was exciting,” she says.

This year, Santiago keeps busy as editor in chief of the Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce, while gearing up for the bar exam, continuing her work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and preparing for a position with the U.S. Attorney General’s Honors Program: Department of Justice—Antitrust Division after graduation. “When you’re in school, you’re in a safe haven, so you really should take advantage of pushing yourself,” she says. 


John Dowling

Stephen Masiclat |
Media, Rare
and Well Done

New technologies are typically introduced to the public as improved systems for performing familiar tasks. The personal computer, for example, was first marketed as more efficient than a typewriter for producing letters and more accurate than a daybook for keeping tax records. According to Stephen Masiclat, a medium’s breakthrough capabilities—the tasks it can accomplish that have not yet been conceived of as tasks—are likely to emerge only after periods of intense imaginative struggle. As director of the Newhouse School’s graduate program in new media, Masiclat is engaged on the front lines of a dozen such struggles in preparing students for careers in this volatile field at the frontier of knowledge.

“Mastering online and interactive media is almost impossible today,” says Masiclat, a former Marine Corps officer who joined the Syracuse faculty in 1995. “The communications industry is typically clamoring for the ‘next big thing’ even before we know what the last big thing was—or how to use it. I try to teach students how to select and master the technologies they require to perform a fundamental task: human communication. It is essential to keep sight of what is being said as we search for exciting new ways to say it.”

Masiclat, who studied literature as an undergraduate at the University at Albany and earned a master’s degree in communication at Cornell, believes that new media do not “replace” old media, but rather add to the choices for contemporary expression. “All the means of communication that have been used throughout history remain at our disposal and each has a best use,” he says. “For example, we don’t regularly carve in stone these days, but when we do, it’s for a reason, and the effect is likely to be quite monumental.” Similarly, painting did not disappear when photography replaced it as a more efficient means of portraiture. “Quite the contrary,” Masiclat says. “Along comes Picasso….”

A professor of visual interactive communication, Masiclat is a past winner of the Newhouse teaching excellence award. A sought-after consultant on design and multimedia matters, he counts among his clients the NEC Corporation of Tokyo and Syracuse’s Rosamond Gifford Zoo. He has received research grants from the Advance Internet Corporation to study audience perception of online news and from Bertelsmann Group to develop projects for SU’s Center for Digital Convergence, where he serves as co-director. “The computer, as Allen Kay wrote, is the first medium capable of imitating all the others,” Masiclat says. “But that has been a kind of disadvantage. It needs to stand on its own. I especially enjoy working with students who are struggling to use the computer as a new and distinct means of effective personal expression.”

Susan Kahn

Jeanne Riley |
Patchwork Artist

Jeanne Riley’s first attempt at quilt-making morethan 30years ago was woeful. While working on the Christmas present for her parents, she mixed fabrics that clashed and sewed crooked seams. “I made every mistake you could think of, but I had such a good time making it,” says Riley, the dean’s administrative assistant in the School of Architecture. “By the time I finished, I had ideas for two or three more. I have been making quilts ever since and my skills have improved.” Since her first foray into the art, she has garnered honors for her work, instructed newcomers, and designed and coordinated the Pan Am Flight 103 Remembrance Quilt with students. Her designs also grace the walls and beds of family members and friends. Riley’s natural talents were honed by her mother, who tailored beautiful clothes, and her inspirations come from her passion for color and patterns. “I love working with colors, and fabric is a much easier medium to work with than paint,” she says.

Although she has had no formal art training, Riley soaked up life and cultures that feed into her work, learning from experiences as the daughter of a career U.S. Air Force officer. Growing up, she lived in locations across the United States, and in Japan and Turkey. “I realized at a very young age how big the world really is,” she says. She planned to parlay her experiences into a Foreign Service career and majored in French at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. She spent college summers in Washington, D.C., working in the U.S. Department of State. Her career plans changed after graduation when she married her college sweetheart, Michael, who is director of SU’s Facilities Support Services. The couple have three married children: Brian, 34, who has two daughters; Erin, 31; and Tim, 29. As her oldest went off to college, Riley joined the undergraduate office in the School of Management, and five years later moved to her current position. She finds the work engaging and enjoys interacting with the staff and faculty. “They are a great crew here,” she says.

Along with quilting, her outside interests include reading—mostly historical fiction—and journaling. But her thoughts often return to needle and thread. She spends a week each summer attending a national quilt conference at Morrisville State College. During the school semester, she stitches with the Hendricks Chapel Quiltmakers, who donate the quilts they create to ill children at Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse. “There’s a certain amount of quilting you do by yourself, but there’s also the community that’s created in making group quilts,” she says. “Quilters are sociable, sharing people.”

In addition to traditional quilts for weddings and new babies, Riley creates art quilts. Her latest work, Concinnity, which means “a harmonic coming together of disparate elements,” won Best of Show as part of SU’s 2005 On My Own Time art exhibition by University employees. Her most rewarding quilt-making experience remains that of the Remembrance Quilt to honor the memory of the 35 SU students on Pan Am 103. For the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, a Remembrance Scholar gathered mementos of the victims from their families and Riley was brought in to help organize the quilt, which was to be displayed at a ceremony just weeks away. “We must have had angels sitting on our shoulders, because somehow it was completed in time,” Riley says. “It’s truly a spectacular quilt.” It has since traveled around the country and also to Lockerbie, Scotland.

As with all of the quilts she creates, each tells a story. For example, Riley can date family events by looking at a quilt. “They are mental scrapbooks for those who make them,” she says. “It’s like seeing old friends and all the memories come back.”



Susan Kahn

Ping Zhang |
Human-Centered Success

As a busy mother of two, wife, and professor, Ping Zhang was looking forward in summer 2004 to two weeks by herself as a visiting scholar at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She expected to make great strides in her research and be very productive, without the distractions of household chores, her daughters’ violin and piano lessons, and the unexpected interruptions of her students and coworkers. Surprisingly, the opposite was true. “Somehow, by not having my family there, I was less productive,” says the School of Information Studies professor. “I discovered that I rely on my family and friends to provide a healthy emotional state, which helps my productivity and cognitive function.”

That incident confirms Zhang’s belief that human emotions play a critical role in productivity, which is one of her current research areas. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Peking University in Beijing and a Ph.D. in information systems from the University of Texas at Austin, she focused much of her education on technology. “But there is a danger of overemphasizing technology and forgetting its purpose,” she says. “We need to examine human needs and society’s values and then fit the technology to that end rather than the other way around. If you neglect the human side, technology will not be utilized or will be misused.” Zhang spearheads a movement within the international Association for Information Systems to incorporate a human-centered viewpoint in information systems curricula. She also includes this philosophy in Human-Computer Interaction and Information Systems and Analysis, courses she teaches regularly at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Zhang cherishes the intellectual freedom and close-knit family environment of the School of Information Studies, as well as its commitment to expanding human capabilities through information and technology. “People are friendly, supportive, and open,” she says. “The administration encourages you to teach the areas you are most passionate about and best at.” This kind of intellectual freedom holds special significance for Zhang. As a lecturer at Peking University, she supported her students’ protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and witnessed the casualties that ensued by the military force. “That was the final push to get me to leave China,” says Zhang, now a U.S. citizen. She occasionally visits family members in China. “I’m excited to see many of the positive changes in China, but I also worry,” she says. “The country is like a big, heavy vehicle making a turn—you just don’t know how much you can control it.”

Chinese culture still figures prominently in her life as she and her husband raise their two daughters. Zhang was on the founding board of the Central New York Chinese School in Manlius and now serves on its advisory committee. The private, nonprofit school offers classes in Chinese language, arts, and culture. In addition to maintaining ties to her cultural heritage, Zhang tries to instill in her children, as well as her students, her philosophy that individuals should measure success by their personal standards. “When you compete against yourself, you will always make progress and be happy,” she says. “I stress the importance of being driven internally rather than externally.” Zhang says her roles as mother and teacher fuel her own drive to succeed. “When you always have young eyes watching, you have to demonstrate qualities you want those watching to have. This makes you a better, more successful person.” 





Susan Kahn

Travis Mason |
A Voice for Many

Travis Mason ’06 is blessed with a giftfor music, a passion for politics, and a talent for leadership. A senior political science, political philosophy, and policy studies major, and past president of SU’s Student Association, Mason was one of 75 students selected from a national pool of 600 nominees as a Truman Scholar by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation in recognition of his potential as an agent for change. “The support of my family, mentors, friends, and members of the Syracuse University community has made me the person I am,” says Mason, an operatic vocalist and jazz, gospel, and classical pianist from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “It isn’t any kind of magic I have. It is the time and effort that others give to me every day. I am very grateful to God for the people He has placed in my life.”

Mason is driven by a powerful sense of responsibility—the firm belief that he is meant to use his personal gifts to improve the world in some way. “I would be a fool if I were to sit back and allow someone to speak for me, when there were people who fought for me to have a seat at the table and for my voice to be included,” he says. “Wherever I go and whatever I do, I have an obligation, whether or not I’m in a position of leadership, to be part of the decision-making process.”

Mason first became interested in student government as a seventh-grader, when his parents began to participate in local politics. Throughout middle school and high school, he was active in the Maryland Association of Student Councils, the Prince George’s Regional Association of Student Governments, and the National Association of Student Councils. “I became very interested in education policy and participated in local policymaking,” says Mason, a Remembrance Scholar. “That sparked my passion for politics, and for speaking up on behalf of people who don’t necessarily know how to get their points across, or don’t feel empowered to express themselves or get involved.”

As SU Student Association president, Mason coordinated and budgeted student organizations and activities on campus and served as an advocate for students’ rights and needs at the University. He was a student member of the University Senate, the academic governing body of the University; a participant in the Renée Crown University Honors Program; and president of SU’s chapter of the African American Male Congress, the nation’s oldest undergraduate honors organization for African American men. In addition, he was co-founder and executive director of OrangeSeeds, the University’s first and only leadership development program for first-year students. “OrangeSeeds challenges people to think outside the box in an uncomfortable situation,” Mason says. “It challenges them to take the emphasis off ‘self’ and think holistically on behalf of the community or organization they represent.”

As a Truman Scholar, Mason will receive a $30,000 scholarship toward graduate school, where he intends to pursue master’s degrees in divinity and public policy. “I really can’t answer questions about the future, because I never know where God is going to take me,” he says. “But I do see myself in some area where I am serving someone or something. I think that’s what life is all about. We weren’t put on this Earth to be independent beings, but to assist and serve others in ways that help shape the future.”


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