History

Syracuse University has a long tradition of creating, promoting and enhancing a diverse and inclusive campus community. Browse the timeline below to learn more about the University’s legacy of diversity, equity and inclusion.

2016

October 11  |  Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebrated on Campus and in Community
Syracuse University celebrates its first Indigenous Peoples’ Day to recognize and honor the history, cultures and contributions of indigenous peoples and to raise awareness and generate dialogue across the campus community. Watch video.

May 12   |  WellsLink Program Receives National Recognition for Retention Efforts
The WellsLink Leadership Program (WLP), in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, provides support to first-year students of color that helps them transition into college socially and academically. Its success in retaining students was recognized with a prestigious national award. Read the full story at SU news.

April 15  |  Chancellor Syverud Provides Updates to Campus Community on Free Speech, Diversity Reports
Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud updated the University Senate on feedback regarding the free speech report and the diversity and inclusion report on Wednesday, April 13, in Maxwell Auditorium. Chancellor Syverud also spoke about the status of several executive leadership searches during his address at the monthly Senate meeting.  Read the original story at SU News.

March 21  |  Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion Report Shared with the University Community
A report by the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion details wide-ranging recommendations aimed at creating a more welcoming, respectful campus climate, including establishing a Diversity and Inclusion Council, and hiring a chief diversity officer.  Read the original story at SU News.

March 11  |  Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion Finalizes Report on Creating More Inclusive Campus
The Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion has submitted its final report to Chancellor Kent Syverud with its recommendations on how to further create a more diverse and inclusive campus climate.  Read more at SU News.

2015

April 16  |   Jazz Icon Randy Weston Headlines Inaugural John L. Johnson Lecture Series
Legendary jazz pianist Randy Weston headlines the inaugural John L. Johnson Lecture in the College of Arts and Sciences. Titled “African Rhythms,” the daylong program will takes place on Thursday, April 16. Events and activities will be presented by the Department of African American Studies (AAS) and will include the following… Read more at SU News.

March 20  |  University Signs on to ‘Justice and Dignity’ Resolution
Syracuse University is a signatory of, and participant in, a resolution supporting social justice and human dignity authored by the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church (NASCUMC).  Read more at SU News.

2013

March 15  |  Retrospective of Nancy Cantor’s Tenure as Chancellor Highlights Diversity Achievements
Throughout her tenure, Cantor pressed to diversify not only notions of what constitutes scholarship, but also the ranks of students engaging in that scholarship. In striving to close what she has termed not an “achievement gap,” but an “opportunity gap,” she repeatedly has asserted that promoting access and opportunity for traditionally underrepresented groups meets an increasingly critical societal need and also deeply enhances the educational experience of all students, who benefit from a diversity of perspectives.

2012

May 22  |  Donofrio Scholars Program
In 2012, Nick Donofrio G’71, H’11 established the Donofrio Scholars Program at the College of Engineering and Computer Science. He was inspired by the University’s emphasis on diversity in education and his own deeply held belief that diversity of thought is the underpinning of innovation in any industry. The year-long program provides underrepresented students with scholarships, paid membership to an professional engineering society, free tutoring, specialized career mentoring with alumni, and a paid, six-week summer internship performing research or working at a local engineering or computer science company. Read more about Donofrio and the Donofrio Scholars Program at the SU in NYC site.

2011

November 17  |  Melvin T. Stith, Ph.D., Dean of the Whitman School of Management is inducted into the PhD Project Hall of Fame
Melvin T. Stith, Ph.D., Dean of the Whitman School of Management is inducted into the PhD Project Hall of Fame. The PhD Project established the Hall of Fame to recognize a select few that have inspired many. Those inducted are role models and mentors attracting minority students to the study of business.

May 17  |  Disability Cultural Center opening announced
Syracuse University announces the founding of the Disability Cultural Center. Since its official opening in October 2012, the DCC has served and engaged faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, and others.

2010

November 11  |  Annual Veterans’ Day Celebration
University College launches the inaugural Veterans’ Day Celebration to pay tribute to veterans on and off campus for their sacrifice.  Read more about the history of University College.

2009

August 15   |  Veterans’ Resource Center
University College establishes the Veterans’ Resource Center (later to become the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs) to provide support services for student veterans using the benefits of the post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.  Read more about the founding of the Veterans’ Resource Center.

2006

October 17   |   WISE Women’s Business Center hosted by the Whitman School of Management is established
The WISE Women’s Business Center, funded by a grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration and hosted by the Whitman School of Management, opens as a location that provides information, resources, and support for women entrepreneurs.  This center is one of 100 women’s business centers across the nation that offers counseling, coaching, consulting, and training.

April 27  |   South Side Innovation Center operated by Whitman School of Management opens
The South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) opens as a small-business resource center located in Syracuse’s South Side. Operated by the Whitman School of Management, the SSIC hosts training programs, provides advice on individual business plans, and offers access to mentors and professional projects. The SSIC is part of a larger South Side initiative, the South Side Entrepreneurial Connect Project. The project seeks to establish a vibrant entrepreneurial culture in the South Side and surrounding communities.

2005

May 15   |   “Co-ed From the Start: Women Students at Syracuse University in the 19th Century”
On May 2005, the University Archives mounted an exhibition on women students of the 19th century. At the 1870 inauguration of Syracuse University Dr. Jesse Peck charged the faculty to remember that the University was to be impartial and general. “The conditions of admission shall be equal to all persons… there shall be no invidious discrimination here against woman…. brains and heart shall have a fair chance… ”  Read more at SU Archives.

March 18   |   Number of bias-related incidents declines at Syracuse University
Syracuse University’s efforts to fight bias-related incidents on campus may be paying dividends, as the latest available figures show a drop in such incidents, from 81 in 2003 to 61 in 2004. Dean of Students Anastasia L. Urtz, whose office began compiling bias crime data three years ago, is encouraged by this decline and points to a number of steps the University has taken to create a more welcoming environment for all students.

March 1  |  Syracuse University begins work on the Connective Corridor
The Connective Corridor project was seen by former Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor as a major platform to implement her vision of the University’s engagement with the community, entitled “Scholarship in Action.”

2004

March 25  SU reports, responds to bias incidents
While 81 bias-related incidents were reported at Syracuse University in the fall 2003 semester, only one of them rose to the level of a hate crime, reports Syracuse University’s Team Against Bias. That incident involved the off-campus physical assault of a non-student perceived by the assailant to be gay. “Bias-related incidents usually consist of inappropriate behaviors that are not sensitive to a diverse community,” says Juanita Perez Williams, the University’s director of judicial affairs. “Fortunately, our Office of Residence Life staff members, who oversee residential living for 7,200 University students, possess the necessary skills to report bias-related incidents to the Department of Public Safety and appropriately support the victims.” Williams says that SU policy defines bias-related incidents and hate crimes as directed by federal law.

2002

May 9   Statement from Syracuse University Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw on Racial Insensitivity
A group of 11 African American SU students and Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw met for several hours Wednesday, May 8, in the Chancellor’s office to discuss the students’ concerns following an incident the night before in which a white student appeared in black body paint at a local tavern with several of his fraternity brothers. The African American students, representing a larger group of concerned students, many of whom gathered Wednesday in the Tolley Administration Building, expressed concern that this situation was but the latest of several bias-related incidents at the University over the course of the 2001-02 academic year.

2001

October 19  |  Maxwell unveils wall display honoring Syracuse University women
On October 19th, 2001, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs unveiled its permanent wall display honoring the women of Syracuse University of 1870-2000 in the Marguerite J. Fisher Seminar Room, 012 Eggers Hall.

October 1  |  LGBT Resource Center opens
Since its inception, the LGBT Resource Center has endeavored to build community within and beyond campus, raise awareness of LGBTQ identities and experiences, offer support to LGBTQ campus community members, and build a safer campus for all. The staff pursues these goals by planning and executing a number of annual events, including the Welcome Social, Coming Out Month, the HoliGay, Trans Day of Liberation, and the Rainbow Banquet. Read more about its history at their website.

March 15  |  A Message from the Chancellor by former Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw
During the last academic year, I wrote a series of BuzzWords, my personal newsletter, on the topic of diversity. In the series I commented on discrimination, institutional barriers, tolerance, and appreciation as part of our continuing effort to make Syracuse University a truly welcoming place for all. The last issue of the series was a call to action. It was based on a list of suggestions from a team of SU faculty and staff who gathered information about the best practices at other higher education institutions. These suggestions were discussed and revised by my cabinet. We identified six areas that I believe will permit us to respond with a targeted, meaningful, and achievable effort. Faculty recruitment: By linking national data on new minority Ph.D. graduates with our needs, we will target such areas as psychology, education, political science, and the disciplines represented in the College of Human Services and Health Professions.

2000

September 15    BuzzWords: “Diversity: Next Steps” by former Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw
Last spring a series of five BuzzWords outlined my views on the value of diversity.  The last of these focused on what should happen next on this campus in five broad categories:  faculty/staff recruitment, student recruitment, curricular matters, training and education, and the institutional environment… Read more of this article, courtesy of SU Archives.

May 24  BuzzWords: “What Now?” by former Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw
I offered the five-part series on diversity on these pages to explain my philosophy on the topics of discrimination, institutional barriers, tolerance, and appreciation.  These will, I hope, frame the next step:  discussing initiatives that will best support diversity on this campus… Read more of this article, courtesy of SU Archives.

April 28  |  BuzzWords: “Tolerance” by former Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw
Now, I turn to the topic of institutional barriers.  These are official policies, procedures, or actions with unintended consequences that limit diversity on campus.  They often become so much a part of daily operations that we don’t stop to analyze them or discover ways to change them… Read more of  this article, courtesy of SU Archives.

April 12  BuzzWords: “Institutional Barriers” by former Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw
Now, I turn to the topic of institutional barriers.  These are official policies, procedures, or actions with unintended consequences that limit diversity on campus.  They often become so much a part of daily operations that we don’t stop to analyze them or discover ways to change them… Read more of  this article, courtesy of SU Archives.

March 15  BuzzWords: “Discrimination” by former Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw
As promised in the December 1999 BuzzWords, I continue a five-part series on diversity on this campus with the March 2000 edition.  I believe that beginning the 21st century with this topic is entirely appropriate.  After all, now more than ever those who can work with and appreciate all kinds of people and cultures will succeed. I begin with the topic of discrimination.  Like many words, this is one that has taken on a distinctly negative connotation… Read more of this article (pdf), courtesy of  SU Archives.

1999

December 15   |   BuzzWords: “The Issue Is Diversity” by former Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw
I’m pleased to be able to make use of BuzzWords as a vehicle to talk about an issue that is not only high on my personal agenda, but also a key component of true academic excellence. The issue is diversity.  And though I know there are many ways people define themselves – by gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, and so on – I’m concentrating here on the areas of race and ethnicity. Read the rest of this article (pdf), courtesy of SU Archives.

1997

August 15  “Remembering the GI Bulge”
An exhibition honoring the students who attended SU under the GI Bill. The exhibition “Remembering the GI Bulge” was a project of the Syracuse University Archives supported by a committee of staff, faculty, and alumni. The exhibition ran from May through August 1997 in Bird Library. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – better known as the GI Bill – was one of the most significant pieces of legislation ever enacted by the United States Congress. Along with other provisions, it offered a college education to millions of returning veterans, thus opening new opportunities for them and their families, changing the shape of American society and public life, and transforming the very nature of higher education.  Read more about the exhibition at SU Archives.

January 15   |  BuzzWords: “On Civility” by former Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw
What does it cost to practice civility in our lives? What do we sacrifice when we respond politely to a question, give our full attention to someone with a problem, or let someone ahead in line? If you go by what passes for human interaction these days, the price is evidently too high… Read more of  this article, courtesy of SU Archives

1996

August 16   |  Michelle Walker helps develop community programs for undergraduates
Michelle Walker, a staff member in the Public Affairs program, has developed and maintained programs at Wilson Park for our undergraduates. Besides mentoring, she also created ‘Cuse Spot’, a winter break “learning program” for students out of school.

1982

January 1   |  Robert Hill establishes the Office of Program Development
Robert Hill establishes the Office of Program Development at Syracuse University. By 1987, Program Development launches the Our Time Has Come Scholarship fund to support African American and Latino students.

1979

August 15  |  Department of African American Studies established
After existing eight years as an independent academic program, the Department of African American studies becomes an official academic department housed under the College of Arts and Sciences.

January 15  |  English Language Institute Created
University College houses the English Language Institute, where international students receive instruction to improve their English language proficiency for academic and professional advancement. Learn more about the English Language Institute or read more about the history of University College.

1971

May 12  Establishes an intercollegiate athletics program for women
Syracuse University establishes an intercollegiate athletics program for women.

1970

August 15  |  The Syracuse 8
The famous Syracuse 8 help pave the way toward greater diversity in the University’s sports recruiting practices as well as its coaching staff.  Read more about it at SU Archives.

1968

January 15  |  Project Opportunity Founded to Fight Poverty
Project Opportunity begins at University College (as an antipoverty program), providing SU scholarship support for adults who are academically unprepared and financially disadvantaged. The project later becomes HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program).  Learn more about HEOP and read more about the history of University College.

1966

March 6  |  John L. Johnson arrives at Syracuse University
After arriving in 1966, John L. Johnson quickly becomes a prominent figure at Syracuse University, laying the foundation for what would become the African American Studies department, acting as assistant provost for minorirty group affairs, and sitting on the commission overseeing the Syracuse 8 football boycott investigation. While teaching at the School of Education, he founded the Croton-on-Campus (later, the King-on-Campus) which brought local inner-city students to SU classrooms to provide otherwise unavailable learning opportunities. In 1971, Johnson left SU to become associate superintendent of schools for specialized education in Washington, D.C. To learn more about John Johnson or view his papers, see the John L. Johnson Papers at SU Archives.

1965

February 15   |  University College Establishes Thursday Morning Roundtable
Thursday Morning Roundtable begins as a public service forum for a cross-section of civic leaders in Syracuse; it has since earned numerous national awards, spanning more than 50 years.  Read more about Thursday Morning Roundtable.

1962

June 15  |  Syracuse University and the Peace Corps
From 1962 to 1967, University College manages SU’s role as the country’s third largest trainer of Peace Corps volunteers.  Read more about the history of University College.

1961

December 10  |  Syracuse University Celebrates Ernie Davis ’62
Syracuse University celebrates Ernie Davis ’62, as the first SU football player and first African American to win the Heisman Trophy.

1948

June 8  |  SU enrolls more veterans through the GI Bill than any other New York university
After the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (better known as the GI Bill), veteran enrollment at Syracuse University soared. Almost 10,000 veterans were enrolled during the 1947-48 school year. Though small, SU enrolled more veterans through the GI Bill than any other university in New York. For more information, including Class of ’47 veterans sharing their memories, view SU Archives online exhibit, Remembering the GI Bulge.

1946

June 15   |  University College Is Founded
The School of Extension is reorganized to form University College (UC) to better serve “adult,” working, part-time students, placing adult education on an equal status with the other SU colleges and schools.  Read more about the history of University College.

1943

August 16  |  Maxwell school welcomes its first female professor
Marguerite J. Fisher G’42 (Ph.D.) becomes the first female professor at the Maxwell School.

1924

October 3  |  Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs opens
On October 3, 1924, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, one of the few schools in the nation to combine the social sciences and public administration education, opened its doors.

1918

October 8  |  SU’s First Evening Classes
Syracuse University becomes one of the first schools in the nation to open its doors to non-traditional students, offering evening classes to adults seeking lifelong learning. Later, the Evening Session become the School of Extension Teaching and Adult Education. Read more about the history of University College.

1902

May 15  |  SU’s First Summer Classes
Syracuse University holds its first summer sessions, aimed at opening educational opportunities to non-traditional students.  Read more about the history of University College.

1876

July 1  |  Sarah M. Loguen graduates from Syracuse University
Sarah Loguen, class of 1876, would go on to become the fourth African-American woman physician in the United States, and the first woman licensed to practice medicine in the Dominican Republic.

1874

May 24  |  Syracuse offers the nation’s first bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.) degree
In 1874, Syracuse University becomes the first university in the nation to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) degree.

1870

March 24  | Promotes equal education for men and women
From the beginning, Syracuse University was founded on the principle of promoting equal education for men and women.