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Kent Syverud announces initiatives aimed at advancing Academic Strategic Plan

Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

In an address to the campus community, SU Chancellor Kent Syverud on Tuesday announced two initiatives aimed at advancing the university's academics.

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud on Tuesday announced the university will begin developing two initiatives aimed at advancing its academics: a long-term plan to fund the Academic Strategic Plan and a university-wide strategic enrollment plan.

During an address to the campus community inside the Life Science Complex’s Milton Atrium, Syverud also provided an update on the university’s fiscal state. Syverud’s speech, announced last week, was held to reflect on issues concerning the university and to update the community on upcoming initiatives.

Syverud announced that Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly, Interim Chief Financial Officer Gwenn Judge and incoming CFO Amir Rahnamay-Azar will work to develop and implement a plan to fund the initiatives and goals of the ASP.

The ASP was first submitted to SU’s Board of Trustees in May 2015 and currently exists in draft form as a “living, breathing document,” subject to changes and updates. Wheatly is tasked with implementing the plan, which sets an academic vision for the university and outlines plans to meet that vision in the coming years.

The plan’s main goals include providing SU students with a “world-class learning experience,” advancing the university’s research capacity, prioritizing internationalization, becoming the premier university for veterans and military students, nurturing an entrepreneurial culture and pursuing excellences in areas across the university. Six working groups, whose members were selected from the campus community, have each been assigned to one of the plan’s six focus areas and are tasked with helping further them.

The efforts by Wheatly, Judge and Rahnamay-Azar will consist of a review of those priorities, as well as a determination of the funding required in the short- and long-term for the plan to meet its goals. They will also review the university’s retention and graduation rates, faculty resources, facilities and the overall student experience.

The group will also be tasked with developing new funding resources at the university. The process will include a review of SU’s advancement goals; a look at its historical and current tuition as well as the room and board rates; and an analysis of how those rates compare to SU’s current and aspirational peer universities.

“This will require candid and tough conversations about our priorities and our choices as we enter our next phase in aiming for excellence,” Syverud said.

Both of those projects will begin this semester, and Syverud indicated that the university is currently in a better financial state than it has been in recent years. He said SU is running a “genuinely balanced budget” and that the university’s endowment is again growing after years of either remaining stagnant or decreasing. SU’s endowment decreased from $1,156,034,730 in 2013 to $1,140,240,279 in 2014.

“That is good news on both the financial and academic front,” Syverud said of the endowment. “Things are stabilized, and we have an academic plan.”

Syverud also announced that Wheatly and Senior Vice President for Enrollment and the Student Experience Dolan Evanovich will work to develop a university-wide strategic enrollment plan, with two main priorities: increasing diversity among students and improving the academic quality of the university.

Student enrollment has steadily risen over the years — total enrollment increased from about 18,600 students in fiscal year 2003 to about 21,000 students in fiscal year 2013.

Syverud said the enrollment plan will set out to increase student diversity among racial and ethnic lines, people with disabilities, international origin, socioeconomic status and veterans.

Syverud added that SU must develop “top-notch” academic programs and ensure that the university is providing its students with 21st century skills.

“This plan will help us strategically pursue those goals,” he said.


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