Celebrating University College: A Note from Chancellor Syverud

On the evening of Oct. 8, 1918, Syracuse University became one of the first universities in the nation to open its doors wide to “non-traditional” students. That night, 18 evening courses met in downtown Syracuse. They attracted hundreds of students who wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree but who-unlike traditional undergraduates-had to work all day or could not afford to pay full-time tuition.

That was the beginning of University College at Syracuse. In the 99 years since, University College has stayed true to that original mission while growing to encompass many areas of study in courses offered with all of the University’s schools and colleges. Today, led by a great faculty and staff, and new dean Michael Frasciello, the college is further widening the pathways for those some call “non-traditional” students, but who I think of as a great Syracuse tradition. There are great advances coming in the next century of University College, including in the areas of innovative online programs and strategic academic partnerships with our schools and colleges.

This really matters at Syracuse because of the amazing students who are enabled to become part of us. Here are two examples:

Timothy Bryant, the victim of violent crime in childhood, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. Professor Sandy Lane encouraged him to pursue a college degree part time through the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) at University College. He made the dean’s list every semester on his way to a bachelor’s degree in public health in 2015. He was named the University Professional and Continuing Education Association’s Outstanding Continuing Education Student of the Year in 2016, and is now pursuing his Ph.D. in sociology at SU.

Elaine Sartwell, a young widow, raised six children and dreamed of a better future for her family. She didn’t see opportunities for promotion in her field without a related degree. She transferred from community college into the social work program in the Falk College with an Achiever Scholarship from University College. Elaine was selected as a Remembrance Scholar and graduated last May as a University College Alumni Scholar and a proud role model for her children and grandchildren.

I thank all those who have made a century of University College possible, and all those who will enable it to thrive in the century ahead.