Fall Update 10.29.19

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The purpose of these updates is to keep you informed of developments and events that contribute to a diverse, inclusive and welcoming campus climate. This month’s update is coming to you jointly from the chief diversity and inclusion officer and the University ombuds. The latter was established to provide a confidential, independent, informal, and neutral, safe space for faculty, staff and graduate students to discuss issues or concerns “off the record.” This might include a conflict with a colleague or student, a policy or procedural concern or an ethical issue. As a neutral campus resource, the Office of the University ombuds will listen, share resources and offer assistance, such as facilitated conversations or conflict management. The goal is to empower individuals to make an informed decision about an issue and take steps toward resolution. Visit the Office of the University Ombuds website to find out more and how to contact the office.

Other resources and updates that contribute to our shared goals include:

Free Speech Working Group

·         Yesterday, Chancellor Kent Syverud announced the members of the newly formed Free Speech Working Group, as well as the group’s charge.

·         The Free Speech Working Group is charged with reviewing policies governing free speech and civil discourse at the University and suggesting revisions to further enhance a culture of open dialogue and diversity of thought on campus.

·         Steve Bennett, senior vice president for academic operations, and Amy Falkner, interim dean of the Newhouse School, will co-chair the group.

·         The members of the working group are David Edelstein, Board of Trustees representative; Mackenzie Ess, graduate student representative; Roy Gutterman, director of the Tully Center for Free Speech and associate professor of magazine, news and digital journalism in the Newhouse School; Marcelle Haddix, chair of reading and language arts and Dean’s Professor, School of Education; Lujane Juburi, undergraduate student representative; Natalie Maier, Student Bar Association representative; Bobby Maldonaldo, chief of the Department of Public Safety; Gladys McCormick, associate professor of history in the Maxwell School; Reinaldo Pascual, Board of Trustees representative; Richard Thompson, Board of Trustees representative; and Marianne Thomson, associate vice president for student experience and dean of students.

·         Ex officio members of the working group include Dolan Evanovich, senior vice president for enrollment and the student experience; Dan French, senior vice president and general counsel; and Candace Campbell Jackson, senior vice president and chief of staff.

·         The working group will convene its first meeting this evening and will deliver interim recommendations to Chancellor Syverud in January 2020 and final recommendations by May 2020.

Student Resources

·         The Barnes Center at The Arch continues to experience record participation in its health, wellness and recreation offerings, including more than 110,000 visits to the recreation facility and more than 16,000 contacts through presentations, tabling and events. With the opening of the accessible recreation/lap pool and Prettyman Spa Pool on Oct. 16, the number of visits at this state-of-the-art complex is expected to grow even more. Students, faculty and staff can access the Wellness Portal to register for classes, search program offerings and reserve a spot in the Crowley Family MindSpa.

·         The Center for International Services will host the inaugural International Festival, including food, dancing, culture and fun to celebrate the richly diverse international community at Syracuse University. The event is Sunday, Nov. 3, from 4 to 8 p.m. in the Regency Ballroom at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center. Students, faculty and staff are all welcome.

·         Student Living has implemented new programming to engage residential, South Campus, off-campus and commuter students in community-building opportunities. Efforts include individual meetings with each resident in the residence halls, a group meal with residence directors and new events centered on promoting safety while building connections with fellow students and staff.

·         The new ’Cuse Activities portal is operational, providing students with a centralized resource for all student organizations and clubs. The portal aims to make it easier for students to search and connect with the many engagement opportunities on campus.

·         On Friday, Nov. 1, at 4 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel, the Office of Multicultural Affairs will host the annual WellsLink Transitions Ceremony, honoring the WellsLink Scholars who have successfully transitioned to their second year at Syracuse University. The nationally recognized WellsLink Leadership Program provides first-year students with structured academic, social and cultural enrichment activities that develop their leadership capital and enhance their success. This year’s speaker is Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and Tony-nominated producer.

·         Native Heritage Month will be celebrated throughout the month of November. Coordinated by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Native Student Program, campus partners and student organizations, the month will include a calendar of events to honor and celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories of Native peoples. More information will be available on the Office of Multicultural Affairs website soon.

Office of Academic Affairs

·         The five-week session of SEM 100 has concluded. Student evaluations and facilitator evaluations are being analyzed. Focus groups are being held to gather information from lead facilitators, peer facilitators and current students. The SEM 100 Student Advisory Committee, consisting of students who have just completed the experience, has been created.

·         The SEM 100/FYE Senate Ad Hoc Committee has been formed and is meeting regularly. The committee is charged with conceptualizing a required, one-credit stand-alone First Year Experience Course. Katherine McGerr, assistant professor of drama in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and Amanda Nicholson, assistant provost and dean for student success in the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience, are co-chairs of the committee. They will present an interim progress report to the University Senate in November.

·         The Social Justice/Social Difference Senate Ad Hoc Committee has been formed and is meeting regularly. The committee is charged with conceptualizing a requirement for students to take a course after the first semester in which they will delve more deeply into a topic addressing inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility, and criteria for selected courses. Chris Johnson, associate provost for academic affairs and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Gwendolyn Pough, professor and chair of women’s and gender studies and Dean’s Professor of the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, are co-chairs of the committee. They will present an interim report to the University Senate in November.

Office of the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

·         The Community Folk Art Center hosted its Fall Open House earlier this month. It featured tours of the facility, including the gallery, Black Box Theater, 2-D art room, wheel-throwing room, dance studio and conference spaces. Spoken word performances by Frankelly Gonzalez ’20 and graduate student Brandon Jackson concluded the night.

·         The Students of Color Advisory Committee continues to meet monthly to discuss topics around public safety and its impact on students of color at the University.

·         Travel Unity, a nonprofit organization focused on diversity and inclusion issues, hosted its 5th Annual Travel Unity Summit in Syracuse in October. It convened members of the tourism industry and representatives from academia, community groups, and elected officials and their staff to discuss issues around diversity and inclusion in the world of travel and tourism. Deka Dancil, Syracuse University’s manager of bias response and education, facilitated the panel “Working with Neighborhoods to Harness and Embrace Tourism: I-81 Corridor,” discussing how neighborhood communities can leverage tourism for economic development and sharing their stories.

·         Syracuse University Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement grant recipients Bea Fry ’20, Samuel Kuffuor-Afriyie ’20 and Lourdes “Lulú” Morales ’20 shared music and experiences from communities around the world in a Music and Message program. Organists Kuffuor-Afriyie and graduate student Augustine Sobeng accompanied the Hendricks Chapel Choir to perform music originating from Ghana, West Africa.

·         The Delta Sigma Theta sorority hosted a Red Table Talk as part of its “Evolution of a Revolution” Delta Week. Department of Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Keith Alford, Vice President of the Student Experience Robert Hradsky and Associate Vice President for the Student Experience and Dean of Students Marianne Thomson participated in an open forum on how administrators can more effectively address bias-related incidents.

·         Syracuse University celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the Shaw Quadrangle with traditional music by Philip George ’20, Mohawk Nation. The event was sponsored by the Native Student Program, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Indigenous Students at Syracuse.

Veterans and Military Families

·         From Nov. 1-3, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) will host one of its most popular programs, this time in Buffalo. V-Wise (Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) convenes more than 150 aspiring female veterans and military spouse entrepreneurs for three days of intensive training, networking, pitch competitions and education from University faculty and industry experts.

·         From Nov. 9-15, the inaugural Veterans Program in Politics and Civic Engagement kicks off on campus with 22 selected aspiring public officials from around the country for a weeklong intensive training session on careers in politics and public service. Co-hosted by the Maxwell School and the IVMF, the program attracted more than 600 inquiries and 150 applications. Ultimately, 22 participants were selected to take part in workshops, speakers and networking leading to a final project and tools to lead a successful campaign.

·         On Nov. 11, the annual ROTC Veterans Fun Run and Walk will begin at 6:30 a.m. on the Shaw Quadrangle. All are encouraged to participate in this annual event to commemorate Veterans Day.

·         Also on Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. in Hendricks Chapel, Chancellor Kent Syverud, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation J. Michael Haynie and other University leaders will come together with the campus community to honor those who have served in a special hour-long ceremony.

Hendricks Chapel

·         In partnership with the Department of Athletics, Hendricks Chapel will sponsor “Faith and Family Day” on Nov. 2 in the chapel, on the Shaw Quadrangle and in the Dome. The event is intended to provide a public example of interfaith cooperation and the collective contributions of religious, spiritual, moral and ethical life. More information and discounted tickets are available online.

·         Hendricks Chapel will host the Theodicy Jazz Collective and Hendricks Chapel Choir on Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. for a program of sacred jazz, including the Canterbury Jazz Mass, part of the new Music and Message weekly series that features musical performances and spoken reflection from a diversity of religious and spiritual perspectives.

·         “A Dinner Conversation on Spirituality, Loss and Grief” will occur on Nov. 5 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Noble Room of Hendricks Chapel. The event seeks to provide support to anyone experiencing loss and grief in response to experiences such as death, illness or injury, career hardship and an assortment of tragic and life-altering events.

·         The next interfaith dialogue dinner is Nov. 11, focusing on “The Surprising Global Legacy of Anne Frank.” The dinner will take place at the Winnick Hillel Center for Jewish Life. The discussion will be co-facilitated by Gillian Walnes Perry, co-founder and honorary vice president of the Anne Frank Trust UK and author of “The Legacy of Anne Frank.” American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and inclusive food will be provided.

·         The Hindu Student Association and Hendricks Chapel hosted a Diwali Celebration with puja, performances and food for 150 students, staff, faculty and community members on Oct. 18. Diwali is the annual Hindu festival of lights celebrated each fall in the northern hemisphere.

·         Members of the Student Buddhist Association attended an “Introduction to Zen Meditation and Forest Bathing” weekend at Dai Bosatsu Monastery in the Catskill Mountains. The weekend also included meditation, yoga and a dharma talk by Shinge Roshi, abbot of both Dai Bosatsu and the Syracuse Zen Center.

·         Members of the Student Assembly of Interfaith Leaders met with Ph.D. candidate Sarah Nahar, a nonviolent action trainer and theologian on Oct. 13. Discussion focused on the intersections of faith communities, religion, the environment and spiritual activism.

Together, we encourage you to explore opportunities to step out of your traditional “comfort zone” and discover the many cultures, affinity groups, faith celebrations and learning experiences that comprise our inclusive campus environment. We will continue to keep you informed of interesting and engaging events to expand your horizons.


Keith A. Alford, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Neal Powless, University Ombuds