Outside of SU, Cantor known for psychology work, higher education leadership
Nancy Cantor is more than just a chancellor.
Outside of Syracuse University, Cantor is both nationally and internationally recognized for her work as a social psychologist as well as an advocate for improving and diversifying higher education.
Before holding higher education leadership positions, Cantor was highly regarded as a social psychologist, said Peter Vanable, an associate professor and chair of the psychology department at SU.
As a social psychologist, Cantor studied “normal social interactions,” which are the ways people engage in the social world around them. She is specifically recognized in the field for her work with social intelligence, Vanable said.
“She was very influential in developing theories of self-regulation and thinking about the ways people cope with change in their lives, and how they approach challenges,” he said.
Cantor received her doctorate in psychology from Stanford University in 1978. She is the co-author and editor of three books, as well as a contributor to 90 books and journal articles.
Cantor is also fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a member of the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability, according to SU’s website.
Additionally, she is the recipient the Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association, according to the website.
“She developed the notion that scholarship in the sciences, especially social sciences, is best served by attacking challenging, real-world problems,” Vanable said.
Cantor’s work in social psychology helped fuel her more recent contributions in leadership roles, such as “championing” social justice issues and creating equality in higher education, he said.
“I think her scholarship is highly respected, but I think it also served as a spring board on her emphasis on education issues,” Vanable said.
Before becoming chancellor at SU, Cantor served as the chair of the board of directors of the American Association for Higher Education and the chair of the board of the American Council on Education. She was also chancellor for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, according to the website.
In the higher education community, Cantor is known for her “extraordinary” leadership, said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the America Council on Education.
Corbett Broad, an SU alumna, said Cantor has carried on and elevated the SU tradition of making higher education accessible to individuals, regardless of one’s financial situation.
Cantor’s efforts to strengthen the university’s relationship with the city of Syracuse has impressed those in higher education, Corbett Broad said.
“She is known nationally, and dare I say internationally, for the kind of leadership she has exhibited in both extending opportunities to students and building strong relationships with the support of the community,” she said.
She is best known for her efforts to fight racial injustice and increase diversity in higher education, she said.
Cantor supported the use of affirmative action in the admissions process at Michigan, an issue that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. When at Illinois, she attempted to ban the university’s mascot, Chief Illiniwek. The board did not support her decision, but the mascot was banned three years later, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on Oct. 2, 2011.
Last year, the American Council on Higher Education presented Cantor with a diversity-leadership award. The award recognizes leaders who are committed to diversifying the student body, the community and the composition of faculty and staff, Corbett Broad said.
“Nancy is known around the country for the incredible leadership she has exhibited in diversifying Syracuse University,” she said. “It was for that accomplishment that she was recognized by ACE.”
Corbett Broad said she hopes when Cantor steps down from her position as chancellor in June 2014, that she will take time to regroup her energy and then return to serving higher education.
Said Corbett of Cantor: “It’s an incredible leadership story.”
Thomas Wolfe is leaving his position as senior vice president and dean of student affairs to become the new president of Iliff School of Theology… Read more »
UPDATED: MAY 15, 4:35 p.m. Syracuse University students will soon see new living options in downtown Syracuse, after a new construction company revamps a vacant… Read more »
Donahue's game-winning goal caps dramatic Syracuse comeback against Yale, propels Orange to final four
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Dylan Donahue’s goal with 13 seconds left capped off a thrilling, come-from-behind win for Syracuse and sends the Orange to its… Read more »