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U.S. News and World Report ranks SU 58th academically among national colleges

Syracuse University returns from a dip to 62nd last year.

Syracuse University ranks 58 in the country for academics, according to a U.S. News and World Report listing released Monday evening. This marks a return to SU's 2013 ranking after the university dipped to 62nd last year. 

SU additionally ranked 7th on U.S. News and World Report’s national list of the best colleges for veterans.

The “Best Colleges” list includes data from nearly 1,800 schools across the U.S., according U.S. News and World Report's website. The schools receive rankings based on 16 metrics judging academic excellence; of these metrics, outcome-related measures such as graduation and retention rates are weighted most heavily.

SU is listed with a 49.5 percent average freshmen acceptance rate and a 92 percent retention rate, according to the report. These are comparable to the other three schools SU ties with in this year’s ranking: Fordham University in New York, N.Y.; Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Tex.; and University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn.

The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry ranks 76th, which is a 10-spot jump since last year's ranking. SUNY-ESF shares the 76th ranking with eight other universities.

The top spots on the U.S. News and World Reports' lists moved little this year. Princeton University retained its top title as the best national university. Williams College kept its 12-year position as top liberal arts college nationally, and Berkeley continues as the top public school among national universities.

Campus forum in works to address racist, homophobic comments in Hanna Strong video

Chancellor Kent Syrverud announced in an email that a community forum will address the offensive Instagram video that has been circulating this weekend.

Syracuse University’s administration is now planning a community forum in response to the Instagram video featuring Syracuse University soccer player Hanna Strong.  

The video, which has been circulating through news outlets and social media this weekend, catalyzed a strong and rapid reaction on campus after it was posted on Saturday. In the video, Strong, who is a senior midfielder on the women’s soccer team, shouts racial and homophobic slurs.

Coach Phil Wheddon indefinitely suspended Strong in response, according to a statement from Daryl Gross, SU’s Director of Athletics. The university’s Department of Public Safety and Title IX Office also opened an investigation.

“Syracuse Athletics, as a strong and diverse part of this University community, has zero tolerance for these actions,” Gross said in the statement.

Chancellor Kent Syverud stated in a general email on Sunday evening that the administration is working with student leaders to arrange a community forum to address the issue. “I believe this, and other less visible incidents, presents us with an opportunity to have an open, civil, and frank discussion. Issues of tolerance and respect are something confronted by many people on campus and off, in ways visible and not,” he said in the email.

A date and time were not set, but more information was promised soon. 

As the video spread through social media Saturday, the campus community took to Twitter to call out Strong for her statements. Those who weighed in include prominent student-athlete alumni such as C.J. Fair, Michael Carter-Williams and Marquis Spruill. The video also catalyzed a same-day, student-organized meeting to address the issue, according to social media.

Wheddon, Strong’s coach, declined to comment on the incident at the team’s game this morning against the University of Vermont, saying, “There will be no further comment from myself or the players at this time. We stand by our university's policy, and we support Dr. Gross and the chancellor."

Strong, who is from Monson, Mass., has played in all four games of the women’s soccer season so far, according to her bio. She also played with the a local soccer team, the Syracuse Lady Knights, this summer, according to their website.

Strong herself has made no public statement regarding the video nor responded to an email requesting an interview.

Tyler Piccotti contributed reporting to this story. 

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.