Chancellor Kent Syverud addresses Invest Syracuse, DACA and SU’s endowment at 1st Senate meeting

Sara Schleicher | Contributing Photographer

The University Senate gathered in Maxwell Auditorium Wednesday for the first meeting of the semester.

The $20 million in administrative cuts that have already been identified as part of Invest Syracuse do not include staff layoffs, Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud said Wednesday.

During his report at the semester’s first University Senate meeting, Syverud also said the university’s endowment is growing and reaffirmed his support for students who could be affected by the federal government’s plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

As part of the $100 million Invest Syracuse initiative, which will fund SU’s Academic Strategic Plan, the university plans to make $30 million in cuts to administrative spending. University officials have said they’ve already determined where $20 million of those cuts will come from.

Syverud did not specify what is included in the $20 million in identified cuts, or whether staff layoffs could be included in the remaining $10 million that needs to be identified. In 2015, 254 SU employees participated in a buyout, and since then some on campus have remained worried privately that another round of layoffs is imminent.

Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly told The Daily Orange last week the university doesn’t yet have a plan for the remaining $10 million in cuts that must be identified.

Syverud also addressed the fiscal state of the university at the Senate meeting, saying SU’s endowment is continuing to grow. It passed $1.25 billion over the summer for the first time in SU’s history, he said.

He also described SU’s budget as one that is moving in a positive direction. In fiscal year 2017, revenues at the university were $6 million less than projected, while expenses were $21 million less than expected, he said.

“The budget is truly balanced,” he said.

Also on Wednesday, Syverud again spoke against President Donald Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation. After Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday the program will be rescinded, Syverud said in an email to the campus community that SU “will continue to work and advocate for our DACA students.” He also outlined resources available to DACA students, including new protocols that give students affected by recent changes to immigration law a pathway to completing their degrees.

Syverud said at Wednesday’s USenn meeting that the university opposes the decision to end the DACA program, adding that SU’s DACA students “are as orange as any of us.”

“I just ask everybody here to join us in supporting them,” he said.

Other business

In addition to Syverud’s report Wednesday, Wheatly addressed the Senate on the Academic Strategic Plan and the university’s main goals related to the ASP as its implementation moves forward during the 2017-18 academic year.

The university will look to create an enrollment plan that delivers classes with more diversity and stronger academic qualifications, she said, in addition to developing a strategy to increase retention and graduation rates.

SU is also seeking reaccreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The university has been in the reaccreditation process, which consists of a university-wide assessment, since April 2016. The MSCHE is a federally-recognized association that accredits degree-granting institutions in New York and other states in the region.

Among other things during the accreditation process, universities are reviewed to ensure they comply with the Higher Education Act of 1965. This spring, SU will change the date of its academic drop deadline because the deadline previously didn’t follow guidelines set by the Higher Education Act.

SU will submit its final report to the MSCHE on Dec. 22.


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