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saunders
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A Satirist’s Splendor
Saunders Joins MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellows

Faculty Excellence» His work on the page has been described by reviewers as “demented,” “ferocious,” “darkly funny,” and “stunningly original.” His impact in the University’s classrooms is recognized as equally powerful. It should come as no surprise, then, to his colleagues, students, or fans, that George Saunders G’88, an English professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, was named as one of 25 Fellows for 2006 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. As a recipient of the award, known popularly as the “genius grant,” Saunders was recognized for his “creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future.” As part of the honor, over the next five years, he will receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support. “Being a MacArthur Fellow has been a wonderful experience, even this first few weeks of it,” says Saunders, who learned the news while driving along the Mexican border on assignment for GQ magazine. “The fellowship has already opened up my vistas—I find myself thinking in more expansive and ambitious ways about my writing. It has also caused an outbreak of ‘genius’ jokes around our house. Now when I drop my toothbrush in the toilet, which I do with some regularity, the house will fill with the sound of everyone at once shouting, ‘Nice one, genius!’”

Saunders is no stranger to top-shelf fellowships. Last April, he was named a 2006 Guggenheim Fellow. A graduate of SU’s M.F.A. creative writing program, where he now teaches, he has published three short story collections, including CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (Random House, 1996); an illustrated novella; and a children’s book. His award-winning fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, and numerous other well-regarded magazines.

Saunders is SU’s second MacArthur Fellow; Don Mitchell, chair of the geography department, received the honor in 1998. Chancellor Nancy Cantor expressed pride in Saunders’s accomplishments. “George is a highly distinguished author and scholar who has made a profound impact, both in the literary field through his writings, and on our students through his teaching here at Syracuse,” she says. “He is one of today’s greatest writers and is truly deserving of this highly prestigious award.”   

The following passage by George Saunders is excerpted from “Bohemians,” which appears in his latest short story collection, In Persuasion Nation (Riverhead Books, 2006). It exemplifies his characteristic blend of satire and surrealism, his colloquial use of language, and his distinctly deadpan narrative voice.


Bohemians
by George Saunders

In a lovely urban coincidence, the last two houses on our block were both occupied by widows who had lost their husbands in Eastern European pogroms. Dad called them the Bohemians. He called anyone white with an accent a Bohemian. Whenever he saw one of the Bohemians, he greeted her by mispronouncing the Czech word for “door.” Neither Bohemian was Czech, but both were polite, so when Dad said “door” to them they answered cordially, as if he weren’t perennially schlockered.

Mrs. Poltoi, the stouter Bohemian, had spent the war in a crawl space, splitting a daily potato with six cousins. Consequently she was bitter and claustrophobic and loved food. If you ate something while standing near her, she stared at it going into your mouth. She wore only black. She said the Catholic Church was a jeweled harlot drinking the blood of the poor. She said America was a spoiled child ignorant of grief. When our ball rolled onto her property, she seized it and waddled into her back yard and pitched it into the quarry.

Mrs. Hopanlitski, on the other hand, was thin, and joyfully made pipe-cleaner animals. When I brought home one of her crude dogs in tophats, Mom said, “Take over your Mold-A-Hero. To her, it will seem like the toy of a king.” To Mom, the camps, massacres, and railroad sidings of twenty years before were as unreal as covered wagons. When Mrs. H. claimed her family had once owned serfs, Mom’s attention wandered. She had a tract house in mind. No way was she getting one. We were renting a remodeled garage behind the Giancarlos, and Dad was basically drinking up the sporting-goods store. His NFL helmets were years out of date. I’d stop by after school and find the store closed and Dad getting sloshed among the fake legs with Bennie Delmonico at Prosthetics World.


Steve Sartori
Schwartz
At a press conference announcing the Schwartz Scholarship Fund, Michael Nordman ’07, a public relations and political science dual major from Little Rock, Arkansas, talks about the importance of scholarships to students. Nordman is a recipient of Founders’, Remembrance, and University scholarships.


Alumni Shape the
University’s Future

Dramatic Impact» Syracuse University’s efforts to attract and support qualified students from a wide array of socioeconomic backgrounds received a substantial boost with the largest gift to support student financial aid in SU’s 136-year history. The Frederic N. Schwartz Scholarship Fund—established with a $26.5 million bequest from the estate of Frederic N. Schwartz ’31, H’63—will increase the University’s endowment by nearly 13 percent. “We are committed to securing and building upon Syracuse University’s proud heritage of access and opportunity,” says Chancellor Nancy Cantor, who announced the gift at a press conference in September. “[Fred Schwartz’s] commitment to education will live on and fuel our momentum toward realizing our vision of scholarship in action.”

A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Schwartz overcame childhood tuberculosis to rise to the executive suite as chair and CEO of the company now known as Bristol-Myers Squibb. He graduated from SU with a bachelor’s degree and worked in the U.S. Army civilian plasma and blood program during World War II. His exceptional contributions to the program earned Schwartz the Legion of Merit award and led to a career in health care. He joined Bristol-Myers in 1946 and developed what was then primarily a bulk penicillin business into a diversified pharmaceutical house. Schwartz had been a consistent donor to Syracuse until his death in 1995.  Following the death last summer of his wife, Eleanor Haley Schwartz, the couple’s estate was divided equally for the benefit of their alma maters, Syracuse and Brown universities.

Schwartz’s final contribution to Syracuse will have a dramatic impact on the lives of thousands of young people who will now have the opportunity to realize their full potential. “This is a transformative gift,” says Tom Walsh G’84, senior vice president for institutional advancement. “It substantially increases our ability to help students meet financial needs, creating more freedom for them to participate in the many opportunities for service learning, internships, and international study offered by the University.”

Maxwell Momentum» The Maxwell School reached amilestone of its own—a $5 million endowment gift from Howard G. Phanstiel ’70, G’71 to establish the Howard G. and S. Louise Phanstiel Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership. Phanstiel made the gift—the largest sum Maxwell has ever received in a single donation from an alumnus—to help promote competent, ethical leadership in American institutions, the lack of which, he believes, is eroding public confidence. “The holder of the chair that bears my name will recognize the importance of thinking creatively and will understand how to work across disciplines,” says Phanstiel, a Maxwell Advisory Board member and former chair and CEO of PacifiCare Health Systems. “He or she will help students learn to frame a clear vision and organize resources and create strategies to achieve it.”

In expressing gratitude to the Phanstiels, Maxwell Dean Mitchel Wallerstein G’72 spoke of the benefits the endowed faculty position will bring to the nation’s leading school of public administration. “This generous gift will allow us to identify an outstanding candidate, someone with a national reputation and substantial experience in strategic management and leadership,” he says. “The Phanstiel Chair, which will be located in our Department of Public Administration, will enable the Maxwell School to assume national leadership in this important area.” 

—David Marc

Steve Sartori
Gore
University Professor Charles Driscoll gets Al Gore to sign a copy of his book, An Inconvenient Truth. Gore’s lecture was sponsored by the SU Student Association, University Union, and the University Lectures series.


Gore’s Global Warning

Environment» Former Vice President Al Gore is on a mission to curb global warming before it forever alters life on Earth as we know it. According to Gore, we are in the midst of a growing environmental crisis that must be addressed before its consequences wreak havoc on the planet and its inhabitants. “This crisis is by far the most dangerous we have ever faced,” Gore told a full house at the Landmark Theatre in downtown Syracuse on September 14. “It also presents the greatest opportunity we have ever confronted….It gives us the chance to experience something that few generations ever know—a shared common moral purpose.”

   Gore called on the American public to acknowledge the irrefutable scientific evidence that global warming is occurring, transcend political squabbling, and act for change. He equated the climate crisis to historical events that required the country to unite in a common moral stance, including fighting fascism in World War II and battling segregation in the 1960s. “Understand that your power is limitless,” said Gore, who spoke in Syracuse at the invitation of the SU Student Association, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary.

In recent years, Gore has crisscrossed the globe, engaging audiences with a presentation on global warming that spawned his best-selling book and popular documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. On stage at the Landmark, he explored the issue in a conversational—sometimes humorous—style, using an array of supporting materials, including photographs documenting drastic environmental changes, charts, computer modeling forecasts, and animated cartoons. Beginning with the Industrial Revolution, the presence of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has been on the rise, trapping solar heat and preventing it from escaping back into space—the “greenhouse effect.” Since the 1970s, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and other activities has spiked to unprecedented levels, leading to an increase in average global temperature beyond natural climate variability and escalating climatic changes that, in turn, adversely affect the environment.  As an example, Gore cited evidence of glaciers receding on every continent, including the loss of a prominent Antarctic ice shelf that vanished in just 35 days during 2002, after surviving thousands of years of climatic variations. With continued global warming, the planet faces a litany of potentially devastating consequences: rising sea levels; more frequent and intense storms; greater loss of soil moisture; increased frequency of droughts and wildfires; disappearance of frozen tundra areas and coral regions; and acceleration in the spread of invasive species and diseases.

While the problem may seem overwhelming, Gore believes it can be contained through political will and a combination of initiatives, including U.S. ratification of the 1997 Kyoto treaty, which calls for reductions in greenhouse-gas emission levels by industrialized nations worldwide; improved vehicle fuel efficiency and emission standards; and personal conservation and changes in our way of thinking and habits. “We are a force of nature,” he said. “Now we have to use our democracy and reason together and deal with the truth of our situation and rise to the challenge. But we have to adopt a perspective that’s unique, because we have never faced a crisis like this one before.”

—Jay Cox

 

D.C. Program Examines Disability Policies

Disability Law» Michael King G’08 came to the College of Law to pursue disability studies and advocate change. “I chose to come here because of the college’s national reputation as a champion for disability rights,” he says. During his first year on campus, King started working with University Professor Peter Blanck, chair of the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI), a new research and advocacy center for people with disabilities at SU. It is named for the former School of Education dean, a disability rights pioneer. “The Burton Blatt Institute is at the forefront of this revolutionary field of thought,” King says. “BBI has opened up a potentially limitless number of areas to study. Disability law intersects with health, property, family, and civil rights law, among others.”

Through BBI’s new Summer Policy Leadership Program in Washington, D.C., King and fellow law students Emily E. Cosentino G’08, Bert Kaufman G’07, and Annette L. Sawicki G’07 engaged in a variety of activities relating to disability law, including conducting research, drafting policies, meeting with congressional staff and disability rights advocacy groups, and analyzing current legislation. During the eight-week program, students joined forces with some of the country’s most prominent disability rights advocates and lobbyists, including attorney Robert Silverstein, a principal architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Michael Morris, a leading disability policy thinker and managing director of BBI’s D.C. office. “This is an outstanding learning experience for our law students to work and advocate for persons with disabilities,” says College of Law Dean Hannah Arterian. “We are pleased to partner with the experts at the Burton Blatt Institute and have our students engaged in this rigorous program.”  

After a weeklong orientation that included an overview of the Washington policymaking process, each student selected a project and got to work, focusing on the relationship between disabilities and such issues as education, emergency preparedness and disaster response, telecommunication and technology, nursing home downsizing, and elder care. “This is exactly the kind of experience I was looking for when I came to law school,” King says.

The students said the experience left a permanent impression on them. “The strategies I’ve learned about negotiating, policy formulation, drafting legislation, and conducting analysis can apply in many types of settings,” Kaufman says. “I will also be mindful of the people-first perspective that prevails throughout disability policy.”

—Margaret Costello

 

 
car Newhouse photojournalism major Anthony Chavar ’07 took these photos in Pearlington, Mississippi, as part
of a project documenting the 2006 Civil Rights Connection, an annual trip that teaches Central New York high school students about the civil rights movement. As part of this year’s trip, the students helped with clean-up efforts in the town, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Students Document Gulf Coast Journey

Civil Rights» In late May, Kiran Nagaraj G’08 stood stunned at the sight of Pearlington, Mississippi—roofless houses and cars submerged in mud and debris still dotted the landscape nine months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast community. “It’s unbelievable really, and it’s been so long since the hurricane,” says Nagaraj, a telecommunications and network management major in the School of Information Studies. Angela Baldridge G’06 was equally shocked. “I don’t think most Americans know how bad it still is,” the Newhouse photojournalism major says. “I’m not sure why.”

Nagaraj, Baldridge, and photojournalism major Anthony Chavar ’07 spent two days with 16 high school students from Central New York, gutting and scrubbing Pearlington’s uninhabitable homes. The hurricane relief project was part of the Civil Rights Connection (CRC), an annual 10-day trip organized by former New York State Senator Nancy Larraine Hoffmann ’70. Among those with SU connections accompanying the group were CRC sponsors George ’68 and Kathryn Hicker, and senior associate athletic director Scott Sidwell, who previously worked at Tulane. The SU students documented each day’s events on the group’s web site (www.civilrightsconnection.org). 

The Civil Rights Connection, now in its 10th year, spreads the lessons of non-violence and self-determination to high school students as they visit landmarks from the civil rights movement across Mississippi. “The students do a service project and attend seminars with people involved in the movement to hear about the historic actions that took place,” Hoffmann says. This year, for example, students met with the cousin of Fanny Lou Hamer, an African American woman jailed for attempting to register to vote, and visited Hamer’s grave. 

While Baldridge and Chavar snapped photos, Nagaraj designed a new, comprehensive web site for the program. Baldridge and Chavar’s photos illustrate an interactive trip itinerary, featuring quotes from the high school students and descriptions of their daily activities. “Social studies teachers from across the country can, and already do, use the web page as a teaching model,” says Hoffmann, who would like the extended content to become part of future CRC trips. 

The CRC provided the SU students with valuable professional and personal experiences. “I learned how to get candid shots without being too intrusive,” Chavar says. “I probably took more pictures in those 10 days than I ever had before.” For Nagaraj, a native of India, the trip marked the first time he had learned about the civil rights movement in depth. “It’s remarkable to me how it wasn’t that long ago,” he says.

—Christine Mattheis

 

 

 

 
venice Seminar group members gather in Torcello, one of the outlying islands in the Venetian lagoon.

Rediscovering a Renaissance City

International Seminar» History professor Dennis Romano and fine arts professor Gary Radke ’73 have each tread the streets of Venice many times, spending years living and studying there. Still, a collaborative project this summer helped them and 15 faculty colleagues from across the United States see the city from a new perspective. With generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Romano and Radke directed a five-week seminar, “Shaping Civic Space in a Renaissance City: Venice c.1300 to c.1600.” Analyzing written documents from the period and visiting sites throughout the city, they were transported back to a Renaissance city of merchants, bankers, cheese mongers, pilgrims, and prostitutes. They paid particular attention to the shape and functions of the city.  “I felt the scales fall from our eyes,” Radke says. “We saw order in Venice that we had not previously appreciated. We could imagine the bustle of the people going about their business.”

Radke and Romano decided to bring together their respective disciplines for the seminar because, they say, historians and art historians don’t share their expertise with one another very often. Radke, co-author of a major textbook on Italian Renaissance art, recently studied how religious women in Renaissance Venice used and shaped their physical environment. Romano has written books on urbanism and social life in Renaissance Venice. “The primary questions the seminar addressed were, how do humans shape civic space, and how does civic space, in turn, impact the way people act in those spaces?” Romano says. “The seminar was constructed to put the built environment and human behavior into dialogue.”

The project was funded by a $132,000 NEH grant that included stipends for participants and fees for museums and site visits. Participants came from a variety of academic disciplines, including art history, architecture, and Italian studies. They met three days a week to discuss documents and sources, and to travel to places where they could see examples of Venetian life they had explored in the texts. Both Romano and Radke agree Venice is one of the best Renaissance cities to examine. “Even though it’s been radically transformed, it’s less altered than other cities because there are no cars,” Romano says. “You can hear the sound of bells and people walking through the streets.”

As part of the seminar, participants engaged in research projects, using such resources as the state archives and the National Library of Venice to examine laws, wills, Inquisition transcripts, and birth records. SUNY Purchase art history professor Paul Kaplan explored his interest in black Africans in Venetian art and life from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Kaplan appreciated visiting sites not normally open to the public—including the convent of San Zaccaria, which now houses the state police offices—and the seminar’s format. “It was an extremely collegial group of scholars, and Gary and Dennis were very successful in generating an open and fruitful discussion among all participants,” Kaplan says. “The seminar gave me a much broader knowledge of historical issues and put me in touch with quite a number of scholars.”

Marjorie Och, an art history professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, deepened her research into 16th-century artist Giorgio Vasari’s writings, specifically his accounts of the influence of cities on artists, and was invigorated working with the others. “I really enjoyed the camaraderie,” Och says. “Gary and Dennis were great to work with—encouraging, supportive, challenging, and fun.”

—Kathleen Haley

 

Lectures Focus on Information Age Collaboration

Interdisciplinary Series» In an age when people can communicate through shared computer screens from distant locations, instant messaging on cell phones, or e-mail accessed through portable wireless devices, it’s easy to forget the importance of face-to-face contact, especially in developing trust and forging new partnerships. That’s why the School of Information Studies and the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS) launched the Year of Exploration, a series of lectures and workshops aimed at bringing together members of those colleges, as well as other campus and business community members, to discuss the networked information society. “Our initial goal was to find the overlap of common research interests between the two schools and to develop interdisciplinary synergies,” says Trustee Professor Liz Liddy G’77, G’88 of the School of Information Studies, an organizer of the series. “We want to encourage an opening of people’s minds, to get them all in the same room thinking about topics of mutual interest and to find the connections with each other.”

Daniel Atkins, founding dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Information and head of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Office of Cyberinfrastructure, kicked off the series last spring. He spoke to an audience of more than 60 faculty, students, and industry professionals about revolutionizing scientific and engineering research by sharing such cyberinfrastructure as supercomputers, high-capacity networks, and specialized software and instruments. Following the keynote address, Atkins led discussion groups focused on three common areas identified by the schools: trust, security, and transparency; pervasive networks; and collaboration. “Participants seemed particularly involved in the discussion of collaboration because it encompasses the technical issues as well as the information and social aspects,” Liddy says.

Professor Shiu-Kai Chin ’75, G’78, G’86, interim dean of LCS, says the first lecture and workshops were well received. In November, Joan Feigenbaum, the Henry Ford II Professor of Computer Science at Yale University, shared her expertise in security and privacy, digital copyright, and computational complexity. Scott Charney, vice president for trustworthy computing at Microsoft, is scheduled to visit in February. “The feedback from faculty and researchers has been excellent,” Chin says. “The new collaborations being developed through the lectures are crucial to forging new ground in socially directed information technology.”

—Margaret Costello

 

 

Award-Winning Alcohol Education Creates Awareness

Student Life» As part of SU’s new-student orientation program, all first-year students are required to complete an online alcohol education program before arriving on campus. The program, AlcoholEdu, was introduced in 2002 to help students make safe decisions about alcohol. This fall, for the second year, SU offered interested parents an opportunity to take the course, allowing them to learn about the program and talk to their students about it. “Syracuse University’s ability to develop, implement, and sustain comprehensive alcohol prevention and education clearly demonstrates a commitment to creating a healthier, safer campus,” says Brandon Busteed, founder and CEO of Outside The Classroom, a Boston-based company that addresses public health issues that affect education and developed the online program. “Most importantly, it is a testament to SU’s investment in creating optimal conditions in which students can learn.”

Outside The Classroom acknowledged the efforts of SU’s AlcoholEdu team last spring by presenting it with the first-ever Prevention Excellence Award with Highest Honors. More than 450 colleges and universities use the program.  “I am immensely proud of our people for the efforts they have made in this campus’s awareness of alcohol issues,” says Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. The team was composed of staff members from the Division of Student Affairs’ Substance Abuse Prevention and Health Enhancement (S.A.P.H.E.) Program, which is part of the newly created Office of Prevention Services. S.A.P.H.E.’s efforts in alcohol education programming received added recognition in September, when SU was one of three universities honored with a 2006 National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week Award.

According to AlcoholEdu team member James R. Byrne, an Options counselor with S.A.P.H.E., SU’s involvement with Outside The Classroom evolved from the University’s Twelve-Point Plan for Reducing Alcohol and Other Drug Use, a comprehensive environmental management strategy developed by Wells in 1999 to draw on the best practices of alcohol and other drug prevention, education, and intervention programming, including research and evaluation components.

For Byrne, Outside The Classroom has produced tangible results. He says students who encounter a friend who has abused alcohol are now better equipped for making decisions and soliciting medical help. “It’s difficult to quantify, but there has been a shift in the culture of how alcohol is used among Syracuse University students, based on decisions they make informed by AlcoholEdu,” Byrne says. “And most likely, that has improved the quality of life on and around the campus.” 

—Aimee Hammill

 

New Centers Reflect Inspirations of Alumni

Steve Sartori
Tully

Free Expression» The late Joan A. Tully ’69 honored two of her life’s passions—journalism and free speech—when she created the Tully Center for Free Speech at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “Joan felt, as do we, that the First Amendment is only as strong as the public’s support for it,” says Newhouse Dean David Rubin, noting the center’s mission is to promote awareness of free-speech and media-law issues.

A journalist and editor who gained her first bylines at The Daily Orange, Tully became an attorney in mid-career, specializing in First Amendment protections. The center she endowed at Newhouse will host symposia and foster interdisciplinary work on media-law issues, which typically draw together the interests of communications, political science, and legal scholars. It will also support graduate students working on relevant topics and make an annual award for courageous defense of free expression. The region will gain a clearinghouse for information on New York State media law, and international study at Syracuse will be enhanced by the worldwide scope of the Tully Center’s research and educational programs.

 

Optimizing Assets» James D. Kuhn ’70, G’72 studied real estate at SU as an undergraduate and M.B.A. student at a time when most schools did not offer preparation in the field. “I always felt it was a big advantage to have some knowledge of real estate,” says Kuhn, president of the global real estate giant Newmark Knight Frank.

When Kuhn saw the pioneering real estate program that proved to be of such great personal value to him in need of revitalization, he stepped forward with a significant gift to establish the James D. Kuhn Real Estate Center and the Leo and Sunnie Kuhn Scholarship at the Whitman School of Management. The center will merge the study of finance and real estate to help students optimize real estate assets and investments, and to adapt to the expansion of the market into international networks. A proposal for a full-fledged major is in the works, and multidisciplinary collaborations with architecture, law, and other disciplines with inherent ties are likely to provide benefits across the University. “The real estate industry is on the rise,” says Whitman Dean Melvin T. Stith G’73, G’78. “We could not be more appreciative of this timely gift and the programs it will facilitate.”              

—David Marc

 

 

 
NewsMAKERS»
Rolling Stone Cover

>Newhouse School magazine journalism majors Allie Baker ’08 and Julianne Pepitone ’08 won the feature writing category in Rolling Stones 28th Annual College Journalism Competition. They were awarded $2,500 and cited in RS’s November 2 issue for a profile they co-wrote of a local soldier injured in Afghanistan. The story originally appeared in The Student Voice, a campus publication.

>The Whitman School of Management’s Department in Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (EEE) was named the nation’s best graduate program in entrepreneurship by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review.  EEE’s undergraduate program was ranked second in the country. Based on a review of more than 700 schools, the rankings were published in Entrepreneur’s October issue.

>The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation selected Christopher Tarolli ’07 as a 2006 Astronaut Scholar. Tarolli, a dual major in chemistry and Spanish in the College of Arts and Sciences, was one of 18 students nationwide to receive the $10,000 scholarship. Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell visited campus in October to present Tarolli the award.

>University College Interim Dean Bethaida “BEA” Gonzalez G’04 will be honored with an endowed scholarship created in her name as part of a $1 million gift pledged to the University by William Eggers, Richard Eggers, and the Melvin and Mildred Eggers Charitable Family Foundation. The gift also augments the Mildred Eggers Endowed Scholarship Fund and enhances faculty support in the Maxwell School’s economics department, which the late Chancellor Melvin Eggers once chaired.

 

 
Steve Sartori
Syracuse 8
Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Trustee Art Monk ’80 (left) join the Carrier Dome crowd during halftime of the SU-Louisville football game in honoring members of the “Syracuse Eight”— Ronald Womack ’71 (second from left), Duane Walker ’80, A. Alif Muhammad ’71 (known as Al Newton as a student), Clarence “Bucky” McGill ’72, Dana Harrell ’71, John Lobon ’73, Greg Allen ’72, and Richard Bulls ’73. John Godbolt ’73 was unable to attend. In their honor, the University will establish a scholarship, and an annual student-athlete award recognizing courage.

Return of the ‘Syracuse Eight’

Steve Sartori
Syr8
Clarence “Bucky” McGill gives football fans a thumbs up as he leaves the field with John Lobon (center) and Richard Bulls.

Chancellor’s Citation» In 1970, at the heart of an era marked by the greatest political turmoil ever to hit American campuses, nine African American members of the SU football team, all scholarship players, petitioned the athletic program with a series of grievances. They wanted positive changes: medical care focused on student health rather than game-day readiness; academic support that recognized their status as students as well as athletes; unbiased assignment of starting positions; and racial integration of the coaching staff. Ignored, they chose to sit out the season, effectively ending their collegiate sports careers and their chances to play professionally.

On October 20, the “Syracuse Eight” (a miscount that stuck in the media) returned to campus to receive the Chancellor’s Medal, one of the University’s highest honors. Before a packed house at the Whitman School’s Lender Auditorium, Chancellor Nancy Cantor welcomed the honorees to what she described as a “healing” experience, apologizing to them and praising them for standing up for their beliefs and enduring the hardships that followed. She noted that in the years following their refusal to play, the University addressed every point in their petition, making SU a national model for athletic program reform. “Your courageous effort, your courageous stand, supported by the dedication of the faculty and staff who ardently backed you—some of whom are here today—gave the process of change its essential push,” she said. “The initial result was a statement for history by the University’s investigative committee that cited ‘institutional racism unworthy of a great university.’”

Hosted by Atlanta television journalist Angela Y. Robinson ’78, the event drew prominent alumni to campus, including football greats Jim Brown ’57 and Art Monk ’80. In 1970, Brown came to Syracuse to support the players and spoke on their behalf on national television. Visibly stirred by his reunion with them, an impassioned Number 44 challenged contemporary athletes to follow their example. “Who in sports today has shown the backbone and concern for the community these guys displayed 36 years ago, as college kids?” Brown asked.

As the story of the Syracuse Eight unfolded, interest grew from local coverage to an Associated Press story, distributed nationwide, headlined “School Honors Players’ Anti-Racism Stand.” Articles also appeared in The Sunday New York Times and Jet, a popular African American weekly. Rami Khouri ’70, G’98, editor at large for The Daily Star in Beirut, was on campus to participate in the international peace summit earlier that week. He stayed for the Syracuse Eight ceremony and found lessons in the reconciliation for his war-plagued region. “The episode reveals one of the best aspects of American culture: the determination to acknowledge the sins, crimes, or just transgressions of the past, as a means to fostering peace and stability in society,” he wrote in Middle East Online.

John Lobon ’73, a defensive lineman for the 1970 Orange, is today a senior executive with the Connecticut Development Authority and a member of the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. “I forgave Syracuse University long ago…,” he said. “But now I can make it part of my soul.”

—David Marc

For more on the Syracuse Eight, go to http://sumweb.syr.edu/progdev/2005springsummermanuscript.pdf.

 

 

Fellowship Program Builds Language Skills

InternationalStudies» In India, the taste of the water changes every 20 miles and the flavor of the language changes about every 10—or so an old Indian saying goes. Even with this linguistic diversity, anthropology doctoral student Ian Wilson G’06 felt comfortable speaking Hindi, the country’s official language, with people from varied backgrounds and locations, including a woman from western Rajasthan who owns a fruit stand in Jaipur, a scholar who runs a library in Bharatpur, and a Hindu priest in Bharatpur. He became proficient through intensive language studies funded by federal Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship grants. “With the foundation of FLAS, I’m able to pay attention to the subtle aspects of the language and speak with a diverse group of people,” says Wilson, who is researching the former kingdom of Bharatpur, near Agra in northern India, for his dissertation. “It’s those kinds of conversations that illuminate the culture, enriching the knowledge I can share with students.”

FLAS fellowships are offered through the Center for European Studies (CES) and the South Asia Center (SAC) in consortiums with Cornell University’s respective programs. Located in the Maxwell School’s Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, both CES and SAC are designated National Resource Centers by the U.S. Department of Education, which seeks to expand international studies. FLAS provides tuition funding and a $15,000 stipend ($2,400 for summer) to graduate students for rigorous language training and complementary area studies. Summer FLAS allows for intensive language coursework in programs abroad. Students may study the principal European languages as well as such languages as Hindi, Tamil, Polish, and Turkish. “The government feels there are insufficient numbers of people in the United States who are fluent in other languages and knowledgeable about other countries,” says political science professor Mitchell Orenstein, CES director. “It encourages universities to offer this kind of training.”

Meghan D. Rasmussen G’06, who earned master’s degrees in public administration and international relations, took advantage of FLAS to focus on Middle East studies and learn Turkish. “FLAS provided an exceptional chance to make language one of the core pieces of my education at Maxwell and opened the door to additional opportunities,” Rasmussen says. “This summer I earned a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department and was able to go to Turkey for additional intensive language training.” Another FLAS recipient, religion doctoral student Angela Rudert, studied Hindi and is preparing to do fieldwork in India for her dissertation on female religious leaders. “The language study is indispensable,” Rudert says. “I could not have worked toward a specialty in South Asian studies without it.”

SU students will continue to benefit from the program. Last spring, CES was awarded a $1.5 million grant and SAC was awarded a $1.9 million grant. Both grants run from 2006 to 2010. “We select students who have achieved high academic success and are committed to area studies,” says religion and anthropology professor Ann Grodzins Gold, director of the South Asia Center and William P. Tolley Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities. “In order to understand these places, you need deep language and cultural knowledge, and a deep interest and enthusiasm for the place.” 

—Kathleen Haley

 

 

After-School Initiative Enriches Elementary Students

Courtesy of the School of Education
Delaware School
Anastasia Danger G’06, a graduate student in the school counseling program, has fun reading with two Delaware Academy students in the Extended School Day program.

Community Engagement» The efforts of School of Education graduate students and the school’s involvement in the Delaware Academy’s Extended School Day (ESD) program have contributed to improved New York State Education Department test scores and decreased suspension rates at the Syracuse elementary school in recent years. “Research supports the idea that children who participate in formal after-school programs have higher academic and conduct grades,” says Sandy Trento, assistant dean of continuous education and global outreach at the School of Education. For the past six years, she has secured funding for the project from the New York State Extended School Day/School Violence Prevention Program. “Delaware Principal Amy Fazio Evans [G’98] and Vice Principal Thomas Coughlin know that after-school programs work,” Trento says. “They believe the ESD program has played a major role in the steady increase of their students’ fourth-grade performance scores.”

In pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, Delaware enrolls more than 600 students who represent diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. The comprehensive ESD program, which serves about 150 children daily, focuses on academics, cultural enrichment, and social skills, including conflict resolution and violence prevention training. School of Education graduate students in counseling and reading and language arts staff the program, dedicating 20 hours a week as tutors and mentors, assisting with homework, and helping with enrichment programs. “Participating in the ESD program has enhanced my SU experience in many ways,” says Jessica Bacon G’07, who has worked at Delaware for two semesters. “It helped me understand more about issues of diversity, and gave me a different view of teaching. I saw how students often have special needs and require extra support to achieve academically and socially.”

Several community organizations, including Partners for Arts Education, the YMCA, and the Spanish Action League, collaborate on the ESD program, providing instructors in such areas as art, music, dance, and recreation. Recent activities included visits to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park and the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, karate and swimming lessons, and workshops in poetry, dance, and Brazilian drumming. Student performances throughout the year give ESD participants a chance to share with their families what they are learning and doing. “There is a lot of joy in this program,” Trento says. “The bottom line of what we do is to try to imprint on young minds what personal success is and how you achieve it.”

—Amy Shires

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