Explaining Syracuse University’s Academic Strategic Plan

Kiran Ramsey | Digital Design Editor

The Academic Strategic Plan is one of three components in the Fast Forward Syracuse initiative at SU.

As one component in Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud’s three-part Fast Forward initiative, the Academic Strategic Plan sets an academic vision for the university and outlines plans to meet that vision in the coming years.

SU Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly has been tasked with implementing the Academic Strategic Plan, which was first submitted to the Board of Trustees in draft form in May 2015 and has since been a living, breathing plan with the potential to be updated.


Emma Comtois | Digital Design Editor

The plan outlines six focus areas for the university: the student experience, “discovery,” internationalization, a commitment to veterans, innovation and “one university.” Six working groups, whose members were selected from the campus community, are each assigned to one of those themes.

Student Experience

The idea behind the student experience theme is to provide all SU students with a “world-class learning experience” that prepares them for success. The university plans to accomplish that goal by pursuing a number of objectives, including the following:

  • Identifying and developing a set of core competencies for undergraduate studies and core proficiencies for graduate studies
  • Maximizing potential and expanding the reach of the Renée Crown Honors program
  • Pioneering an inclusive disability agenda
  • Implementing educational opportunities that advance cultural competence among faculty, staff, students
  • Enhancing collaboration between colleges
  • Overhauling advising practices
  • Expanding the capacity of the Syracuse University Libraries
  • Developing criteria to evaluate teaching excellence
  • Providing pedagogical development for faculty


The purpose of the “discovery” focus area is to advance the university’s research capacity and do so by supporting a “wide range” of scholarship. To accomplish that, SU plans to reward those who excel in research; increase the role of the Office of Research; pursue investments in cross cutting areas of strength and opportunity; enhance support of doctoral students and doctoral programs; and provide research opportunities to undergraduate and master’s students, among other things.


The university plans to make internationalization a priority by developing the campus so students engage with the rest of the world as soon as they come to campus.

The objectives for the internalization theme include identifying strategies to improve support for international students and integrate them better into campus; “infuse global perspectives and content” into more courses; increase the percentage of students who study, research or intern abroad from 48 to 58 percent; and create abroad opportunities for graduate students, among other things.


Emma Comtois | Digital Design Editor

Commitment to veterans

SU, which has plans to create a National Veterans Resource Complex, is aiming to become the premier university for veterans and military students. To accomplish that, it plans to do the following:

  • Developing support services and academic offerings that focus on the needs and aspirations of Veterans or military families
  • Enhancing the expertise of the faculty on veterans, military & national security interests
  • Investing in technology and off site infrastructure to provide state of the art education in military affairs
  • Scaling capabilities and focusing efforts in government relations and major donor advancement
  • Increasing veteran enrollment, retention & graduation rates
  • Working to ensure that veteran students who may harbor feelings of isolation are incorporated and normalized into the campus community


Through the innovation focus area, the university is aiming to “nurture an entrepreneurial culture.” SU will work to “cultivate an enterprising mindset, characterized by visionary thinking and creative problem-solving.”

SU will look to accomplish that by creating innovation labs; enabling the library to complement virtual media; making more places accessible and inclusive; rewarding innovation; and seeking partnerships with private, civic and governmental sectors to inform innovation efforts.

One University

The final theme of the Academic Strategic Plan is to pursue excellence in all areas across the university. SU will, according to the plan, strive to provide all members of campus “a workplace that proactively supports their personal and professional needs, challenges them to grow, respects diverse points of view, and recognizes excellence.”

To accomplish that, the university plans to employ strategies that improve internal communication and transparency, ensure all employees have opportunities for professional development and advancement, examine university governance structures and more.


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