Inauguration 2014

Inauguration day events to celebrate SU, Syverud

Friday will mark the beginning of a new era for Syracuse University when Kent Syverud is formally inaugurated at the university’s 12th chancellor and president.

But even though SU is bound to change, Syverud hopes the event will serve as a reminder of what the university is all about — its rich history and dynamic student body.

Chancellor Kent Syverud’s inauguration will be held on Friday, beginning with a run across campus and concluding with a celebration on the quad. Chuck Merrihew, vice president of advancement and external affairs, said in February, a committee was formed to address what events there would be that day, and what would be the general theme.

Merrihew said a huge part of the inauguration day was to tap into different parts of SU, including different offices, schools and individuals. That way, many different parts of the university are represented, he said.

The committee began meeting Feb. 17 and had five meetings. When the members of the committee met, Syverud told them the three components he wanted to be included during the day: an academic feature, a student feature and the ceremony, said Boris Gresely, Student Association president and a student representative on the committee.

The symposium “Great Universities in the Next 25 Years,” in which distinguished members of the SU community will speak about the university’s present and future, will also be a part of the day’s events, Gresely said. Fast Forward, a competition in which students submit video pitches to fund projects, will also take place Friday as the 14 winners will pitch their entries in front of the chancellor. At 4 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel, Syverud will be formally inaugurated.

Gresely said the inauguration’s theme of reflecting on the university’s past and thinking about its future is very appropriate. He pointed out how rich SU’s history is, citing SU’s start as a Methodist college and being one of the first institutions to accept women and minorities.

“It should always be something, a reminder to students at Syracuse University of that rich history,” he said. “But at the same time, (we’re) looking at the futuristic approach of where the university is going to be.”

Part of looking toward the future is something Syverud has emphasized, Gresely said. He said Syverud has been using his status to help fix important issues on campus and show the SU community how he is sticking to his commitments as the chancellor.

Hub Brown, an associate professor of broadcast and digital journalism, served as a faculty representative on the committee. He said he enjoyed judging the Fast Forward entries because he and the other committee members were able to learn about issues that they may not have heard about otherwise.

“It gives us a look at some of the things students are concerned about that sometimes don’t get talked about to faculty members,” Brown said. He added that the competition served as an opportunity to find out about students’ priorities, hopes and dreams.

Brown, who has been at the university for 17 years, said he has noticed differences and similarities between former Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s inauguration and Syverud’s. He said Syverud’s inauguration is on a smaller scale and more focused on the university and its history.

Lisa Dolak, a professor at SU’s College of Law, said the chancellor has stressed how he wants the inauguration to be about the university.

“That’s a really generous thing to do,” she said. “He could make it all about himself, his accomplishments and his plans, but what he’s done instead is to invite us all to a celebration of the university and of its history as well as its potential for the future, and I just think that the events are all pointing in that direction.”

Brown said an inauguration is a little bit like a wedding, in the sense that the event marks where’re you’ve been and where you’re going. The event is important, he added, but every day afterward is more important.

“I think that people in leadership positions in this university would agree that’s it’s a great place and time to mark what we’ve accomplished and where we’re going, and to rededicate ourselves,” Brown said. “It’s a great time to reflect on how important this place is in all of our lives.”

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