Chancellor Syverud outlines changes for future

In a five-page memorandum sent to students and faculty Monday morning, Syverud discussed promotions and tenure, funding community projects and university leadership, among other things.

In the latest of Chancellor Kent Syverud’s emails to Syracuse University students and faculty, the chancellor laid out a series of changes to affect the university in the coming school year and beyond.

“I have taken some time to think about and assess some key areas of focus,” Syverud wrote in the body of the email after noting that Tuesday marks his four-month anniversary as SU Chancellor, “and want to share with you a number of changes that are being made, some new initiatives underway, and other information I think you should know.”

In a five-page memorandum linked to the body of the email, Syverud addressed areas such as processes for promotion and tenure, distribution of funds to community engagement projects, alignment with the White House task force’s recommendations to prevent campus sexual assault and several personnel changes in leadership positions.

In terms of promotion and tenure processes — one of the longest points identified in the memorandum — Syverud wrote that the university will more closely link the processes for promotion and tenure as well as align both processes to the best practices employed at peer universities. The Board of Trustees this weekend approved changes to the faculty promotion process, he wrote; discussions about adjusting the tenure process will continue with faculty input through the fall.

In continued discussions about tenure processes, Syverud particularly emphasized his commitment to incorporating faculty voices, writing that he recognized their role in ensuring responsible decisions about lifetime commitments to professors. Some but not all of the specific changes are consistent with recommendations of the university’s ad hoc committee on promotions, which was formed in 2012 under former Chancellor Nancy Cantor.

Other notable items mentioned in the memorandum include the following:

  • Regarding SU’s role in financing various community engagement projects, Syverud wrote that future funding for community projects must fall under a strategic plan designed by the school or college that most closely aligns with the community project. This is because the one-time discretionary funds that originally funded many of these projects are spent, he wrote.
  • In response to White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault recommendations, published in April, Syverud wrote that any necessary changes to comply with the task force’s recommendations be implemented during the summer. The university has already been reviewing policies throughout the past academic year.
  • The university is following established disciplinary procedures regarding a tenured associate professor who allegedly had a consensual romantic relationship with an undergraduate student while teaching the student. Syverud wrote he would update students and faculty on the conclusion of the matter.
  • Reflecting the integral role of athletics to the university, the Board of Trustees has approved the creation of a new committee on athletics.

Syverud identified several changes in university leadership as well:

  • Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz, who has served as interim senior vice president and dean of student affairs since July 2013, will continue in her role for the foreseeable future.
  • Dean Laura Steinberg of the College of Engineering and Computer Science will step down in December 2014 and take on a new leadership role related to the university’s strategic planning.
  • Michael Haynie, founder and executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at SU, has been appointed vice chancellor for veterans and military affairs. He will also retain his original title.
  • Kevin Quinn, senior vice president for public affairs, now reports directly to Syverud and has an added job responsibility: overseeing relations with SUNY-ESF.
  • Rick Burton, a professor in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamic, will replace Michael Wasylenko as the university’s faculty athletics representative to the NCAA when Wasylenko steps down at the end of June.
  • Jeff Kaplan will join SU from Ohio State University to serve as senior advisor to the chancellor and president.
  • As the university searches for a new Chief Advancement Officer, Charles Merrihew and Deborah Armstrong will step into interim roles. 
  • The university will soon begin to look for a new Chief Human Resources Officer.

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