Syracuse University is strongly committed to the national Citizen Alum project initiated by Imagining America on the occasion of the American Commonwealth Partnership’s White House launch on January 10, 2012. As a private university with a historically public “soul” and as an anchor institution in our region, we both fully embrace and demonstrate the belief that our alumni can be critical partners in sustaining community-engaged learning and supporting the University’s public mission. The principles and goals of Citizens Alum align seamlessly with Syracuse’s vision of Scholarship in Action. In serving the public good, a core tenet of this vision is educating our students for the world in the world, and graduating alumni who are fully informed and citizens and committed public intellectuals.
At Syracuse, we value our alumni as the center of our “communities of experts”—those supporters who can help create a two-way street between Syracuse and the world by: expanding our reach to a diverse range of prospective students; creating unique learning and scholarship opportunities for students to be educated in the world; and opening new avenues for our students and faculty to tackle the most pressing issues of our time that resonate both locally and globally.
Utilizing their Syracuse education and with the support of the University, some examples of our alumni undertaking this work include:
SU Engagement Fellows: A year-long program that provides stipends and tuition credit for Syracuse University graduating seniors to remain in the region and pursue their graduate education while participating in local projects that incorporate the principles of Scholarship in Action. In addition, the program provides salary support to local business, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs who hire an Engagement Fellow. Recent projects include: creation of a new nonprofit to enhance sustainable living; supporting a nonprofit that promotes empowerment through the arts for individuals with disabilities and refugees living in Syracuse; and working as art and science teachers in Syracuse’s under-served urban school district.
Cold Case Justice Initiative: Our alumni, working together with our law students and faculty, have helped create the Cold Case Justice Initiative (CCJI). The CCJI is an interdisciplinary project that engages Syracuse College of Law faculty and students to seek justice for racially motivated murders during the Civil Rights era on behalf of the victims, their families, local communities, and society at large.
High School for Leadership and Public Service: This school in New York City, co-founded by SU alumna Jane Werner Present in partnership with SU’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, helps diverse new generations develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and prepare to be effective leaders in their communities.
Fostering Community Philanthropy: SU alumna and Trustee Judy Mower sponsors a public affairs class studying the history of community philanthropy and raising funds to invest in Syracuse nonprofits—at the same time cultivating philanthropy among current students.
By adopting Citizen Alum’s principles formally, SU will build on efforts such as these to systematize engagement of students with alumni and their communities, activating robust, cross-generational communities of experts for the public good and embodying SU’s vision of Scholarship in Action.