Provost’s Summer Update to Syracuse University Community

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

With Commencement ceremonies behind us, we are focused on the work ahead to prepare for the next academic year. Chancellor Syverud promised that he and other senior leaders would provide updates on our ongoing work throughout the summer. I am pleased to provide our progress on several important issues.

Student Conduct Process for Theta Tau
•  The student conduct process is ongoing. We expect the process will reach a conclusion in the next few weeks, at which time we will provide an update.

Greek Life Review
•  The contract for the external review is being prepared and is expected to be complete by June 1.

First-Year Experience
•  A Universitywide steering committee is currently working to develop a plan to enhance first-year forum/seminars/courses for implementation in fall 2018. The committee will then develop a long-term plan to establish a unified first-year experience course for all Syracuse University students that can be presented to the Senate Curriculum Committee before December 2018.
o  The steering committee is composed of student representative Jessie Santillan, University Senate Curriculum Committee Chair Kira Reed, University Senate Diversity Committee Chair James Duah-Agyeman, representatives from each school and college and representatives from the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience. Amanda Nicholson and Rochelle Ford are co-chairing the committee.
•  Damon A. Williams, leader of the National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy, will work with the University during the coming months to support the redesign of the first-year experience program. Damon is a national expert on diversity and inclusion and visited campus last fall during his Inclusive Excellence Tour. He met with University leaders yesterday and today, and will continue throughout the summer.
•  Resources and professional development opportunities related to diversity, inclusion, health and wellness are being prepared for all instructors teaching first-year seminars, courses and forums.
•  All first-year course instructors will participate in professional development this summer on creating a culturally responsive classroom.

Faculty Resources
•  On-campus interviews have been held for the director of the new Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. We expect to extend an offer to the selected candidate by June 5. The center will help faculty integrate issues related to diversity, bias and cultural sensitivity into coursework and reading selections.
•  New funding is being provided for research and scholarship activities related to diversity, accessibility and inclusivity, including:
o  $1.67 million in Collaboration for Unprecedented Success and Excellence (CUSE) grants awarded to 90 projects. The funding effort supports faculty research in all disciplines, including basic, translational and applied sciences; social sciences; physical and life sciences; engineering; liberal arts and humanities; and professional studies, as well as creative research and other scholarly activities.
o  We recently announced funding—via our Unsurpassed Student Experience Diversity and Inclusion Grant Program—for eight new projects relating to student programming that will help enhance and sustain an inclusive, accessible and respectful campus community for all. The program supports universal design practices among faculty and other initiatives that expand awareness of and appreciation for differences.

Student Resources
•  The Counseling Center has hired two of the four new staff therapists who will start this summer.
•  Six graduate student trainees have been hired to work with the Counseling Center beginning in August.

Graduate Student Resources
•  We are investing in new digital learning platforms to reach post-traditional students, including veterans and military-connected families. Improvements in health insurance coverage, stipend increases for graduate assistants and additional support for career and professional development will help us attract and retain a more diverse graduate student body.
•  The Graduate School will hire two new staff members this summer to support graduate professional and career development. We have a new person hired as of this week and are interviewing for the associate director position in two weeks.

Disability Audit
•  The Disability Audit Steering Committee is refining a draft of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to engage a consultant and expects to complete the document this week.

Equal Opportunity and Title IX
•  One of two new Title IX investigators has been hired: Melanie Cuevas-Rodriguez will investigate complaints of discrimination and harassment, assist with employee relations issues and ensure compliance with Equal Opportunity policies.
•  Interviews for the second Title IX investigator position are ongoing. On-campus interviews are expected to occur within the next couple weeks.

•  The Division of Marketing and Communications is currently assessing its organizational design and structure. The planned reorganization will prioritize the development of an internal communications team charged with communicating directly to the campus community, leveraging channels most frequently used by students, faculty and staff.
•  The division will also create a student advisory communications council, the members of which will serve in an advisory capacity to the chief communications officer. This council will be established in September 2018.

Our next update will be June 14.


Michele G. Wheatly
Vice Chancellor and Provost