Syracuse University officially welcomed its 12th chancellor with an inauguration ceremony Friday. Kent Syverud has already given a number of hints at the direction he plans taking in the job.
He started his tenure in the job by spending 10 days living on campus, dining with students and even doing laundry in the dorms. His Inauguration day started with an early morning run joined by students and staff. Other events during the day included a session with faculty members, coaches and others sharing University accomplishments. Students were the focus of another event, offering projects and suggestions. Syverud says he wanted the day to be focused more on the broader University than on pomp and circumstance.
"We've been around 144 years and it's kind of an accumulation of what all these people have been doing for 144 years. I wanted to celebrate that more than anything else."
Speakers at the formal inauguration in Hendricks Chapel praised Syverud for immersing himself int the university this past three months since he took over from Nancy Cantor. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, for whom Syverud served as a law clerk, also spoke at the inauguration, recalling the time he worked for her.
"I want you to know that the important things about him have not changed in those years. He is very intelligent; he has wonderful values. He cares about people and he can write and speak exceedingly well. He is going to serve you well and make you proud."
She noted that she told Syverud for 15 years that he should become a University President.
When Syverud addressed the gathering of faculty, staff, students, local elected leaders, business people and others, he highlighted some areas in which he'd like to focus:
- Enhance Undergraduate Education: He wants the doors to be open to the "best un-entitled, scrappy, engaged students" that can be recruited.
- Empower Research Excellence: make it easier to talk about research and to collaborate across disciplines.
- Embrace Change: be better and more progressive that better-endowed colleges and universities.
- Make SU the best university for veterans.
Syverud called himself just the latest steward of all the great accumulated works over the past 144 years. He also thanked students for their spirit and inspiration, calling them the highest responsibility.