Message to Newhouse students from Interim Dean Amy Falker

February 24, 2020

Dear Newhouse Students,

I understand and appreciate that the events of the past week have been unsettling to many on our campus, online students, and parents and alumni off campus. It’s important we stand together behind our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and in support of all our students.

Campus activism can be a transformative learning experience for a campus and its community. I’m sure many of your Newhouse classes have been discussing the events of the day in the context of what you are studying. 

I believe we should engage and try to better understand student concerns and their underlying issues, and do so in the spirit of finding a common path forward to building a better Newhouse and University community.

To that end, and after much listening to all constituencies, including all the deans, the Chancellor provided a public apology to the entire Syracuse University Community earlier today. He also outlined the steps we believe are needed to move us forward.

I hope you will take a few moments to reach the entirety of the Chancellor’s message. I can summarize the three main action items below:

1. Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost John Liu will work to develop protocols that ensure faculty and deans will have greater involvement and oversight around how the University handles protests. 

2. Former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who served under President Barack Obama, will lead an independent review of the Department of Public Safety. This review is expected to start in the next few days. The charge will be to identify what is working well, what is not, and how DPS can best serve our community.

3. An independent review of our Student Experience function will also start shortly. The Student Experience teams focus is on students, and we want to review  what we’ve done and make suggestions where needed on how to best meet student needs.

The Board of Trustees Special Committee on University Climate, Diversity and Inclusion and the Independent Advisory Panel will continue their work, and have already been actively engaged in interviews on campus. In fact, the Trustees Special Committee had 20 dialogue sessions with students, faculty and staff last week and more are upcoming. The Independent Advisory Panel, consisting of national experts on issues of safety diversity and inclusion, is on campus this week doing similar work. Both groups will make recommendations.

As a reminder, you can also see online the progress of the University’s response to the demands of different student groups here: Campus Commitments. I know the site is dense but I do believe the University is working in good faith to meet the commitments made to our students in November, and will continue to take concrete steps to improve the campus climate and make this a safe and inclusive campus for all.

As you can appreciate as students of journalism and mass communications, the situation is fluid, and requires a little work and patience to sort out the facts. I encourage you to continue the conversations with your Newhouse faculty, staff and fellow students, in a spirit of mutual respect. We know this work in this space is hard and it will take time. We know it will take all of us working together. I have confidence we are on the right path and I want you to know the Newhouse community cares and supports you. We welcome your involvement in campus discussions and we thank all of you who have already engaged or joined working groups toward that end.

Best,

Dean Falkner