Syracuse University is driven by its vision, Scholarship in Action—a commitment to forging bold, imaginative, reciprocal, and sustained engagements with our many constituent communities, local as well as global. SU is a public good, an anchor institution positioned to play an integral role in today’s knowledge-based, global society by leveraging a precious commodity—intellectual capital—with partners from all sectors of the economy: public, private, and non-profit. Each partner brings its strengths to the table, where collectively we address the most pressing problems facing our community. In doing so, we invariably find that the challenges we face locally resonate globally.
We understand that this represents an expansive definition of the role of a university, but as the Kellogg Commission has observed, it is incumbent upon universities today "to reshape our historic agreement with the American people so that it fits the times that are emerging instead of the times that have passed.” Today, in a world in which knowledge is paramount, we believe that we best fulfill our role as an anchor institution in our community when:
- We educate fully informed and committed citizens;
- We provide access to opportunity;
- We strengthen democratic institutions;
- We create innovation that matters, and we share knowledge generously;
- We inform and engage public opinion and debate; and
- We cultivate and sustain public intellectuals.
Serving the public good in these ways pervades our daily decision making and connects us not just with our immediate community, but with communities throughout the world. These outward-looking engagements both optimize education and yield new forms of scholarship and new scholarly arrangements, propelling us forward as an academic institution. They allow us not only to create innovations that matter, but to test our notions of who is a scholar and what scholarship is.
Roots of the Vision
Scholarship in Action captures a vital, historical strength of the Central New York region and the City of Syracuse, as well as the University. Our region has a treasured history of social innovation, having played a key role in abolitionism and the women’s rights movement. Even those ideas—revolutionary in their own times—found inspiration locally in the indigenous culture of the Haudenosaunee people, whose matriarchal society thrived in the region before the arrival of Europeans and whose form of government inspired our nation’s founders.
The process of adopting Scholarship in Action as our vision was organic as well. Chancellor Nancy Cantor dedicated her inaugural year to the theme “University as Public Good: Exploring the Soul of Syracuse.” All of SU’s stakeholders were invited to share their reflections on our strengths and aspirations for our future—from students, faculty and staff members to alumni to friends of the University to members of the local, regional, and global communities. The many activities of that reflective year revealed profound thoughts and feelings, from which two very clear messages were distilled: (1) universities today must connect more tangibly with their communities and (2) Syracuse University, in particular, is remarkably well positioned to do so. Scholarship in Action is a faithful translation of these messages, a bona fide expression of the identity to which the Syracuse University community aspires.