May 25, 2017
Dear Faculty Colleagues:
As I reflect on the 2016-17 academic year, I want to thank each of you for your hard work on behalf of our University. The most important part of that work, of course, is the extraordinary teaching, research and service each of you contributed to your students and the world. I am deeply grateful. You made my first full year here at Syracuse an inspiring experience. It certainly has been a bit of a whirlwind, but these last 12 months were both productive and deeply rewarding. I am thankful that, on top of your many responsibilities, you also helped the University advance in its academic planning. The Academic Strategic Plan continued to be a primary focus all year and you helped make good progress in many areas, including the Student Experience, Research and Internationalization:
The Student Experience
- The University bolstered and expanded student support services, including the opening of the Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS) in Bird Library to serve as a central hub for academic support services and tutoring. Our goal is to provide one-stop shopping for all Syracuse University students seeking academic support, with coordinated referrals to academic services across campus.
- In addition, we continued with the implementation of a comprehensive academic advising platform to help students stay on track academically as they progress toward their degree. We expect to expand the programs—Orange Success and DegreeWorks—to include graduate students and programming in the fall.
- We also launched a systematic academic program review process based on best practices of several of our institutional peers. The review process, along with student learning assessment measures, is designed to enhance quality, reputation and competitiveness of our academic programs, and to ensure that our offerings are evolving in step with the emerging needs of our students, potential employers and the world.
- Finally, we opened a campus conversation on proposed 4+4 core competencies—a set of signature reasoning skills and abilities that would be distinctive for every graduate of Syracuse University. The implementation of Universitywide core competencies addresses a key recommendation that emerged from the Academic Strategic Plan and dovetails with a Middle States requirement for reaccreditation.
- The University continued taking steps to elevate the capabilities of the Office of the Vice President for Research to more fully coordinate, support and grow research activity and collaborative scholarship. The plan is to further enhance this office and expand its scope in a way that provides greater support to faculty for grant writing, award applications and other critical tasks.
- We have made excellent progress in identifying the next Vice President for Research. The search committee collected extensive feedback via open forums this spring and an online survey. Initial interviews were conducted last week, and the search committee expects to have a candidate named by the start of the Fall 2017 semester.
- We also created the position of Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and named Peter Vanable (dean of the graduate school and currently interim VP for research) to that position. Peter oversees campuswide coordination of certificate, master’s and professional programs, and continues to support the University’s efforts to elevate the quality of its research-oriented doctoral programs.
- The Internationalization Council, which I appointed last fall, has made good progress this spring in identifying priority goals. One such goal was to identify ways to better support international students on campus, from recruitment through graduation.
- The council gathered data through an international student forum as well as a campuswide survey of all undergraduate and graduate international students. Before breaking for the summer, the council submitted a report with priority recommendations for enhancing the international student experience in four areas: recruitment, orientation, in-classroom experience and out-of-classroom experience.
- Looking forward, the council will also develop a strategy to allow more students to study abroad, as well as work with a faculty group to internationalize the curriculum.
There were other noteworthy developments, including:
- appointing Eugene “Gene” Anderson dean of the Whitman School of Management;
- initiating a strategic enrollment planning process with Senior Vice President for Enrollment and the Student Experience Dolan Evanovich;
- working with GSO leadership to enhance the graduate student experience—including initiating a new child-care subsidy for graduate student families;
- overseeing development of a first draft of the Middle States reaccreditation self-study report;
- The draft currently is posted through September at selfstudy.syr.edu, and I encourage you to review it and provide feedback.
- developing and commencing a plan for the continuation of the work of SU ADVANCE and WiSE;
- partnering with the University Senate on a number of important initiatives, including:
- creating a policy to allow for degree completion for students affected by recent changes in U.S. immigration policy; and
- revising the Faculty Manual as it relates to faculty titles and conducting an annual faculty census.
- collaborating with the members of the Campus Facilities Advisory Board to ensure that institutional decisions about facilities align with the Academic Strategic Plan.
I am grateful to all of you who gave your time, energy and expertise to these and other initiatives that enhance academic excellence at Syracuse University.
I am also thankful for your candor throughout the year. As I learned during my first year here at Syracuse, a good idea is only as strong as the financial resources to help it succeed. As the Chancellor mentioned recently in his end-of-year message, we must move forward with a long-term resource plan that converts the big ideas of our Academic Strategic Plan into significant innovations and accomplishments. I look forward to engaging in conversations about that with you as we continue to partner to advance the academic vision and mission of Syracuse University.
In the meantime, whether you’re traveling, teaching, conducting research or writing or exploring in the coming months, I hope you have a wonderful summer.
Michele G. Wheatly
Vice Chancellor and Provost
Office of Academic Affairs