Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud spoke to a group of faculty, staff and students on Tuesday, May 10, at the second of two additional information sessions focused on the proposed University Place Promenade project. The Chancellor, as well as Michael Speaks, dean of the School of Architecture and a member of the Campus Framework Advisory Group, and Peter Sala, vice president and chief facilities officer, also answered a number of questions from the audience of about 60 people.
The additional information sessions come on the heels of 18 months of work done by the Campus Framework Advisory Group, which is comprised of faculty, students and staff. The group has gathered thousands of input points to gain insights into the priorities of the campus community. Town hall meetings, surveys, small group meetings, email communications and news stories have provided opportunities for each constituency to share feedback and offer input on the future of the Syracuse University campus.
In addressing the group Tuesday, Chancellor Syverud said community feedback is critical to the success of the University and reiterated what he had heard over the last couple of days as a result of a petition submitted my University faculty.
“The Promenade was in planning for the last 18 months, but I have to tell you that I had only heard one concern about the project, from anyone, up until last week—and that was about better bicycle access, which the plan was adjusted to accommodate. Since last week, though, I have heard a lot of concerns about this particular project, mostly from Newhouse faculty. And underlying those concerns, I heard broader concerns—and not just from Newhouse—about communications and process about campus projects and the campus framework,” the Chancellor told the audience.
The Chancellor went on to say that there has actually been more process and communication on this Promenade than on many projects in the past decade. Acknowledging it clearly wasn’t enough, the Chancellor asked that everyone on the campus—from staff to deans to faculty—work to model a new culture going forward.
“Many people I talk with in the University yearn, I think, for a golden age of transparency, in which important issues facing the community are surfaced and discussed before they are decided. They don’t expect always to get their way. They do expect to be actively listened to before the decision is final. I get that and I agree with that view. I am skeptical that the University always worked that way before I got here. The important thing is that we have to keep moving in that direction—and I have been trying to move in that direction. An obvious first step is to share all the details of the Campus Framework, and I expect that will happen promptly.”
The project, part of the University’s Campus Framework, is an initiative that is expected to dramatically enhance the campus landscape and improve the student experience. The Promenade will create a greater sense of physical connectedness for all members of the campus community and calls for converting University Place, from Newhouse all the way to the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center, into a primarily pedestrian space, which will be fully accessible.
The Campus Framework plan works in coordination with the University’s Academic Strategic Plan to shape, guide and manage the Syracuse University campus environment and its physical form in support of the University’s mission.
When asked by faculty what the next step is, the Chancellor said: “I am going to look at this specific project, confer with Pete [Sala] and with the Board, and advocate with the full Board for the decision I think is best.”