Nancy Cantor Lecture: Higher Education's Public Mission

NANCY CANTOR, the Chancellor and President of Syracuse University, delivered the annual Distinguished Lecture on Diversity in Higher Education in October 2012. The Center for the Study of Diversity and the President's Diversity Initiative co-sponsored this keynote address, which opened with a nod to the core mission of CSD: "It is not a new idea that the best way to tackle complex problems is to bring diverse perspectives to bear on them."

Chancellor Cantor discussed her vision of the university not as an ivory tower, but as a public good that must use its resources, intellectual capital, leadership and research to confront public challenges.  Citing the barriers to opportunity faced by urban children, women, and members of ethnic minority groups, Chancellor Cantor called for universities to collaborate more wholly with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Chancellor Cantor described her ideas about public universities as “anchor institutions” in their communities and gave numerous examples of how such a commitment to public scholarship enhances the university as well as the local communities. She challenged this University to be creative in imagining ways to engage the local and state-wide communities in partnership and sharing of expertise and resources in pursuit of a commonly shared goals and values. Dr. Cantor also described how Syracuse University successfully made public scholarship an integral part of faculty merit evaluations.