Summer Update #6

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

With the start of a new academic year just a month away, the campus community continues to work to enhance programs, strengthen staffing, add resources and consider new opportunities for ensuring a welcoming, inclusive and diverse campus environment.

Today, I will update you on several important efforts.

Disability External Review Committee
•  As previously announced, a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was issued to consultants and firms that were identified through an extensive process. During the month of July, interested parties are submitting questions about the process; answers to the questions will be provided to all parties that were sent the RFQ.
•  Responses to the RFQ are due in August, and the committee will review and select finalists who will be asked to submit proposals to be considered for the external review.

Student Conduct Process for Theta Tau
•  The student conduct process for the Theta Tau students has concluded. The University Appeals Board issued written decisions to the students this week.
•  The University cannot comment on the specific outcomes due to federal privacy law.

Greek Life Review
•  A third reviewer, Veronica Moore, has been confirmed and engaged to work with lead reviewers Dave Westol and Karyn Nishimura Sneath. Moore is director of emerging and culturally based fraternal initiatives for the North-American Interfraternity Conference, where she is responsible for developing educational programs and advocacy initiatives for emerging and culturally based NIC fraternities.
•  Working with the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, a survey is being designed to capture students’ perceptions of Greek Life. This survey will be sent to full-time undergraduate students in late August.
•  A meeting was held with the reviewers and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs on July 10 in preparation for the reviewers’ site visit on September 16.

First-Year Experience
•  More than 400 students, deans, faculty and staff have applied to serve as peer, lead and training facilitators for the shared reading and discussion experience. Peer and lead facilitators will co-lead a five-week discussion series with small groups of new students focused on topics including identity, inclusion, belonging, health and wellness.
•  Newly appointed Provost Faculty Fellow Kira Kristal Reed, Assistant Provost Amanda Nicholson and College of Arts and Sciences Senior Associate Dean Gerry Greenberg are guiding efforts to develop a new approach to the first-year student experience. Reed and Nicholson currently co-chair the First-Year Experience Initiative Steering Committee and are also helping to implement a professional development program to assist faculty in fostering a more culturally inclusive classroom.

Student Services/Resources
•  Fei Shen and Mansi Brat have been hired as new staff therapists at the Counseling Center. Shen, who is fluent in Mandarin, earned a Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy from Texas Tech University and a master’s from the University of Oregon, where she also worked with the Couples and Family Therapy Program. Brat earned a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision from the University of Toledo, where she also served as a diversity training assistant and a psychotherapist. These two hires complete the hiring of four additional staff therapists announced as part of the Invest Syracuse initiative.
•  Following a national search, Jerrel A. Burgo G’18 has been named assistant director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). Burgo previously served as the coordinator of mentoring programs in OMA. In this role, Burgo will oversee diversity and inclusion education programming in OMA, work closely with student groups, and collaborate with the assistant director of the Native Student Program to develop and implement programs for Native students. This role was redesigned to enhance support for the Native Student Program in alignment with the recommendation of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion.
•  With Jerrel Burgo’s move to assistant director, Julissa Pabon has been hired as the new coordinator of mentoring programs. In this role, she will oversee the fullCIRCLE and Dimensions mentoring programs and manage the planning and programming for the annual Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. Pabon recently completed a master’s in counseling from Central Connecticut State University and served as a graduate assistant in Eastern Connecticut State University’s Intercultural Center during her graduate studies. She joins the University on August 1.
•  More than 40 staff and graduate assistants, representing 14 schools, colleges and units, participated in the Be Orange train-the-trainer workshop. The Be Orange training educates students on pro-social bystander intervention addressing sexual violence. Trainers are now certified to train others across campus, increasing the number of opportunities for students to participate in the Be Orange training.

Graduate School
•  Simona Rosu has been hired to serve in the role of associate director for STEM careers in the Graduate School. She will support professional and career development opportunities for STEM doctoral students as well as our postdoctoral scholars. She brings both an extensive science background and an ability to connect with students and postdoctoral scholars. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in genetics from Stanford University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health prior to joining the Graduate School. Read the full announcement here.

College of Engineering and Computer Science
•  The College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) Dean’s Leadership Team has participated in diversity training. The college has seated faculty and staff members on a Diversity Council. Student members will join the council at the beginning of the fall semester. The dean, three ECS administrators and a community partner from InterFaith Works are in week three of the National Inclusive Excellence Academy led by Damon Williams. The academy is helping to inform the structuring of the college’s new Office of Inclusive Excellence, scheduled to open this fall.

Our next update will be Thursday, August 16.


M. Dolan Evanovich
Senior Vice President, Enrollment and the Student Experience

Summer Update #5

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

As shared in our June 14 update, there is intensive ongoing work being done this summer related to diversity and inclusion by so many in our community. In this message, I call your attention to two ongoing developments.

First, I am pleased that Falk College Professor Keith Alford, director of the School of Social Work, has agreed to become the University’s interim chief diversity officer and to assist in the search this coming year for a long-term professional to fill this position. The announcement can be found here. Dr. Alford is a distinguished scholar and teacher who knows this community and University, and our faculty, staff and students, well. He has been justly celebrated across our community for work combating racism, promoting dialogue and helping students and the community. I am also pleased that Barry Wells has agreed to assist me and Keith in the coming year as we make these transitions, continuing in his role as special assistant to me and as co-chair of the Council on Diversity and Inclusion.

Second, there has been remarkable ongoing work on the First-Year Experience Initiative for students new to Syracuse this fall. We are preparing more than 400 faculty, staff and student leaders to help engage all new students in a carefully designed and assessed program to build shared community, improve the cultural skills and awareness of all participants, and increase health and wellness. I thank Amanda Nicholson and Kira Kristal Reed, First-Year Experience Initiative co-chairs; the First-Year Experience Steering Committee; and all other community members for stepping up in leadership of this work, and I ask that we all support this effort.

We will update you again later in July about summer progress. In the meantime, I wish you success in all your efforts and look forward to welcoming and including all here, including our newcomers, when we start the fall semester.


Chancellor Syverud signature


Chancellor Kent Syverud

Become a Facilitator for Shared Reading Discussion Groups

As part of enhancements to the first-year experience, all new students arriving this fall will now engage in a shared experience that includes a shared reading of Trevor Noah’s memoir, “Born A Crime,” and discussion groups that will focus on relevant themes from the book. The initiative aims to engage students in a shared first-year experience that explores themes of identity, belonging, diversity, inclusion and health and wellness.

To facilitate the small group discussions, the First-Year Experience committee is actively recruiting current students, graduate students, faculty, staff and administrators to serve as facilitators. Each discussion group will be co-led by a student peer facilitator and a lead faculty, staff or graduate student facilitator. Additionally, training facilitators with previous dialogue experience are needed to train peer and lead facilitators.

For more information, visit SU News.

Keith A. Alford Appointed Interim Chief Diversity Officer

Chancellor Kent Syverud has appointed Professor Keith A. Alford to the newly created post of interim chief diversity officer (CDO), effective July 1. Alford is an associate professor, chair of the Falk College’s School of Social Work and graduate program director. The Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion recommended that a CDO position be created to strengthen the University’s diversity initiatives.

Read more at SU News.

Summer Update #4

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Many members of our community are working on important initiatives to foster a more welcoming, inclusive and diverse campus environment. As promised, these updates are designed to keep you informed of progress on this work. Continue Reading

Summer Update #3

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

With Commencement ceremonies behind us, we are focused on the work ahead to prepare for the next academic year. Chancellor Syverud promised that he and other senior leaders would provide updates on our ongoing work throughout the summer. I am pleased to provide our progress on several important issues. Continue Reading