University Politics

University Senate approves degree completion support plan for students affected by immigration policies

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Chancellor Kent Syverud has announced the creation of an ad hoc committee that aims to “prevent all members of the community from physical harm, discrimination and intimidation” in February.

The University Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution on proposed pathways to degree completion for students affected by immigration policies.

The resolution lays out recommendations and states that if students affected by immigration policies complete 75 percent or more of the credits and requirements for their respective degrees, there would be “maximum opportunity” extended to facilitate completion of their degree program with Syracuse University credits.

If a student has less than 75 percent, the student’s home college will determine if the degree should be completed online through SU, or if the school should help facilitate a transfer of credits to another university.

This would also apply to graduate students working on a thesis or dissertation, and “where remote degree completion is not possible, permission may be granted for extension of the Graduate School’s time limits on degree completion,” the resolution states.

Degree completion has been a continued topic of discussion for the Senate body, as members have repeatedly asked the SU administration to address President Donald Trump’s two controversial travel bans, and possible United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids.

Chancellor Kent Syverud has publicly condemned Trump’s travel bans, and in February he announced the creation of an ad hoc committee that aims to “prevent all members of the community from physical harm, discrimination and intimidation.” The committee is currently meeting to learn of and address the concerns and needs of undocumented students.

This latest Senate resolution is another step toward establishing the university’s plan of action for if a student is deported, or refused re-entry into the country. At its last meeting, the Senate passed a resolution that, in addition to opposing the ban, stated that the Senate has a “collective aspiration” to do what it can to protect the SU community from “anti-immigrant, anti-refugee and anti-Muslim actions that the federal government may take, or legislation it may enact, in the days to come.”

This resolution also states that if undergraduate students or graduate students — who are in “good standing” — have their studying interrupted during a semester due to immigration policies after the first day of classes, “maximum opportunity will be extended for the completion of courses for which they have already registered.”

Syverud also presented his report to the Senate on Wednesday. Syverud touched on the administration’s efforts in reorganization to combine the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management into the new Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience.

Chief Financial Officer Amir Rahnamay-Azar is assessing all units that have been part of SU’s business, finance and administrative services, Syverud said.

“Our goal in those is to assure all units of the university are well-supervised or efficient and align with academic priority,” he said.

Syverud added that SU has been working on seeking academic partnership with Le Moyne College.

Additionally, Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly clashed with two senators during the meeting when she explained a need for the university to find a “niche” that helps the institution differentiate itself from other universities under the Academic Strategic Plan. She also proposed a formulation of a university-wide STEM branding strategy, based off of discussions with academic deans.

“It’s also the way for traditional STEM disciplines to intersect with liberal arts, humanities, communications, art and design, business, social sciences, policy, law and education,” Wheatly said.

Robert Van Gulick, a philosophy professor, expressed his concern that the plan is driven by a marketing strategy.

“That’s a little worrisome to me,” Van Gulick said. “ … STEM implications are very useful in all kinds of places but we are a very diverse institution and I am not sure that’s one that captures the reality of Syracuse University.”

In response, Wheatly denied that the strategy is market-oriented and clarified that the brand strategy is merely an idea, not a final decision.

Other business:

  • The Senate’s budget committee report has been postponed until next week. The committee is working with former CFO Gwenn Judge and newly appointed CFO Rahnamay-Azar to determine strategic budget choices.
  • Representatives from the Middle States Reaccreditation Steering Committee and working group on April 18 will present their findings on recommendations at Schine Student Center’s Goldstein Auditorium.
  • SU will be sending out a survey to international students at SU to seek their input on academic experience. Wheatly said the survey is the first of its kind for international students and expects it to generate data useful for multiple purposes.
  • Wheatly said the search committees that are looking to fill the university’s vice president of research position and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management dean are making progress.
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