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Steve Sartori


This summer, we’re celebrating SU’s first anniversary as home to Imagining America (IA), a national consortium of 80 colleges and universities that builds democratic culture and fosters public scholarship and practice through the humanities, arts, and design. Since moving to Syracuse from the University of Michigan last July, IA has generated a whirlwind of activity to promote publicly engaged academic and creative work in the cultural disciplines.

Here in Syracuse, for example, IA Director and University Professor Jan Cohen-Cruz and the students from her new course on community cultural development enticed us to “Get on the Bus,” traversing the Connective Corridor that links the city’s remarkable array of arts and historical venues, stretching from University Hill across downtown. They entertained students, faculty, staff, and local residents with dramatic, musical, and poetic performances on board the Corridor shuttle between stops for exhibitions, concerts, and interactive learning experiences that tapped the city’s unique cultural resources.

IA’s inaugural year with us closed on a high note with a national conference sponsored by its Tenure Team Initiative—held at SU’s Lubin House in New York City—which brought together leaders from a wide range of institutions, foundations, and disciplinary organizations to brainstorm how colleges and universities can “walk the walk” of stimulating thoughtful public dialogue and cultural development in their communities.

High-impact cultural creativity and scholarship is evident throughout this issue of the magazine. You’ll find it in the extraordinary accomplishments of our faculty and students, from the critically acclaimed poets and authors of SU’s renowned Creative Writing Program to the inspired student team behind medley magazine, which shines a light on the ways that a diverse and international student body enriches campus culture and the college experience.

Newly minted M.F.A. graduate Jennifer Marsh G’08 has found a way to stitch together all of these themes, so to speak. She wrapped an entire abandoned local gas station—from filling station garage to gas pump hoses to lamp posts—in a patchwork quilt of 3,400 multicolored fabric panels from 15 countries and 29 states, including nearly 2,000 from Syracuse City School District students. In the process, she wove all of the contributors and the hundreds of pedestrians and drivers who pass it every day into a profound dialogue on the perils of unsustainable lifestyles, and vividly demonstrated the power of public art to stimulate awareness and facilitate lively discussion of a crucial issue facing our local and global communities.

Jacques d’Amboise H’08, one of the most accomplished classical dancers of our time, captures this potential of the arts to instigate and mediate intellectual and social innovation when he says: “The arts open your heart and mind to possibilities that are limitless. They are pathways that touch upon our brains and emotions and bring sustenance to imagination. Human beings’ greatest form of communication, they walk in tandem with science and play and best describe what it is to be human.”

As d’Amboise suggests, art can be playful, but play can also be artful, which is nowhere more evident than in the performance of our lacrosse teams this year, when the men recaptured the national title and the women achieved new heights by reaching the NCAA tournament’s Final Four.

I hope your summer is just as full with the rewards of creativity!


Nancy Cantor
Chancellor and President

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