Embracing our Connectivity

Dear Fellow Members of the Orange Community:

As the fall semester gets underway, many events, voices and faces have already welcomed you to campus. It is my hope that all students, faculty and staff—new and returning—feel welcome. Our collective commitment to building a truly diverse and inclusive environment propels us to go further, so that each person also feels valued. For that to happen, all of us must participate in some way—and be intentional in our actions.

My promise to you in my new role as interim chief diversity officer is to provide guidance and resources that can bring together our diverse communities to recognize, appreciate and embrace our connectivity—with intentionality and vigilance.

When Chancellor Syverud asked me to serve in this role, I agreed because I could see this opportunity as a way to help the University get closer to a more richly diverse and inclusive community of learning and innovation. Understanding our differences, appreciating cultural perspectives and worldviews and discovering our commonalities are goals that define excellence in education. Achieving these goals requires participation from all of us.

Together, we can confront prejudice. Together, we can engage in dialogue. Together, we can ensure that all our students achieve their true potential. That, too, defines excellence in education. And we can do all this in a way that acknowledges the broad diversity of values, ideas and perspectives represented by members of our University community.

Much work has been done over the summer to educate, develop new programs and initiatives and strengthen resources needed to enhance and sustain an inclusive, accessible and respectful campus community for all.

If you have not been reading the summer updates, I encourage you to visit Diversity.syr.edu, the University’s diversity portal. There you will find all six summer updates. A cross-campus team is working to make our diversity portal a more educational and engaging resource. It is a website under continuous review. Help us improve it by sharing your feedback.

As you settle into this new semester, you will find many opportunities to connect with others. It may be as simple as starting a conversation with the stranger sitting next to you—and asking how their journey brought them to this place. You will discover the meaning behind the African proverb: I am because we are, and because we are, therefore I am. As individuals, we derive our identity from a culture and community. Our shared experiences can help us build an inclusive campus community by coming to understand just how we are interconnected and how we can learn from one another.

I will be communicating with our students, faculty and staff regularly throughout the academic year. And I invite you to communicate with me directly as well.


Keith A. Alford, PhD, ACSW
Interim Chief Diversity Officer, Syracuse University
Director and Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Falk College

T 315.443.4252   F 315.443.5576   E kalford@syr.edu

White Hall, Suite 244, Syracuse, NY 13244