Professor Lawrence Mason appointed as University’s Remembrance and Lockerbie Ambassador

by Kelly Homan Rodoski

January 19, 2018
Professor Lawrence Mason Jr. (right) at the Lawn Bowling Club in Lockerbie, Scotland, with Jimmy Pagan, perhaps Lockerbie’s best-known resident. Jeff Costello

Chancellor Kent Syverud has appointed Lawrence Mason Jr., professor of multimedia, photography and design in the Newhouse School, as the first Syracuse University Remembrance and Lockerbie ambassador. In this new capacity, Mason will play leadership roles with the Remembrance Scholar Selection Committee, Lockerbie Scholar selection, defining and enhancing the Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholar experience and continuing to deepen and strengthen sustainable bonds between Syracuse University, the families of Pan Am Flight 103 victims and the Lockerbie region of southern Scotland.

“Our collective remembrance is critical to Syracuse University and to me,” says Chancellor Syverud. “It is important that the legacy of Pan Am 103 continues to live and thrive well on the Syracuse University campus in the years and decades to come. With his 44 years at SU as a graduate student, professor and scholar, and with the last 29 years focused on the legacy of Pan Am 103, Professor Mason is the right person to help us put a strategy in place to ensure that happens.”

In the nearly 30 years since Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a terrorist bomb in the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland, Mason has been a staunch guardian of the Pan Am 103 legacy on the Syracuse University campus and around the globe. For Mason, the tragedy—and the importance of the victims’ legacy—is personal. He was a faculty member at SU on Dec. 21, 1988, when the bombing took the lives of 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie. Eight of Mason’s students were among the victims.

Mason has worked tirelessly to teach others that Lockerbie should not solely be defined by the 1988 tragedy. Mason is a well-known and loved visitor in Lockerbie. He has traveled there 15 times and developed strong relationships with local community members. Using the deep connections he has built, Mason has taken over 100 students to Lockerbie, including some who studied with him at the Syracuse University London Centre. He and fellow Newhouse professor Melissa Chessher co-authored the book, “Looking for Lockerbie.” The book, through Mason’s writing and photographs, Chessher’s writing and editing and extensive student reporting and photography, tells stories of the town that extend beyond the global disaster spotlight.

In the ensuing years, Mason has helped to choose the students who earn the University’s prestigious Remembrance scholarship; has been part of the planning of University commemorations; and has built a strong relationship between the town of Lockerbie and Syracuse University.

The Remembrance and Lockerbie scholarships were established in 1990 to honor the victims of the tragedy. Each spring, 35 rising seniors are awarded Remembrance Scholarships through a competitive interview process based on academics, service, leadership and their knowledge of the tragedy.

Two Lockerbie Academy seniors are awarded Lockerbie Scholarships each year to study at Syracuse University for one year. They are enrolled for a full slate of courses and participate fully in the life of the University. Together, the Remembrance and Lockerbie Scholars plan the University’s annual Remembrance Week activities. Since the inception of the two programs, 980 Remembrance Scholars and 56 Lockerbie Scholars have been selected and have worked to further the Pan Am 103 legacy.

“I am deeply honored that Chancellor Syverud has asked me to shepherd the University’s efforts to ‘look back and act forward’ on behalf of Remembrance,” says Mason. “It’s important that our lost 35 student colleagues continue to live on, not only in the hearts of their families, but also at the University they loved. They are a vital part of our unique history. The loss of our students has unexpectedly fostered deep bonds between Syracuse and Lockerbie, proving that love ultimately triumphs over hate. Over time, I hope to increase traffic back and forth between Syracuse and the lovely town of Lockerbie to continue to develop these bonds.”

This fall, Syracuse University will honor the 30th anniversary of the Pan Am 103 tragedy. More information about the events surrounding the anniversary will be available later this semester.