Post-Traditional Advancement

Alumni and Friends,

Jeff Comancini PortraitAs we continue to deal with the COVID 19 pandemic and its impact on everyday life, staying connected is more important than ever.  As a Syracuse University online or residential student who studied part-time at University College, you are an important part of our Orange community.

The future of University College is grounded in our mission to provide access for part-time students seeking to transform their lives through a Syracuse University degree from anywhere in the world.

As you will see from the stories in this issue of UC Priorities, giving back and paying it forward are critical our success. We hope you’ll be moved by our cover story about Eli Harris, whose love for our campus and students inspired his family to create a scholarship in his honor.

Thanks to the generosity of the Allyn Foundation, the Central New York Community Foundation and private donors, we were able to partner with Blackboard Inc. to offer training to CNY teachers to help them learn effective strategies for teaching online.

This past summer University College partnered with the Office of Alumni Engagement to launch Alumni College—a continuous learning program for alumni, parents and friends of Syracuse University. The program is being enhanced and in January, it will be renamed Orange Academy and offer an expanded selection of courses.

The start of the holiday season is nearly upon us, and we ask you to consider a donation that will help University College students fulfill their goal of earning a college degree. Make a difference in the lives of those we serve! Visit to learn how your gift can make an impact.

Stay healthy and safe,

Jeffry Comanici ‘88

Executive Director, Post-Traditional Advancement

A Message from the Dean: Confidence and Authenticity

Michael Frasciello PortraitStudents who attend college part-time while managing jobs, family and life have been described as non-traditional, post-traditional, adult learners, life-long learners and returners. Within University College, we often describe our students as determined, focused, resolved, dedicated, future-oriented, thoughtful, brilliant, versatile and strong.

The problem with these descriptions is they leave out the confidence and authenticity behind the individual characteristics. They fail to capture the breadth and depth of the students—you—who are transforming your lives with a Syracuse University education. (more)

The most amazing and inspirational people I’ve met in my life exude confidence and authenticity. Our students are those people. When I talk to our students, I hear their challenges and successes, their goals and aspirations. I hear our students’ confidence in how they describe their comfort with their weaknesses rather than their strengths. I see our students’ authenticity when they explain how they can ask for help while recognizing they don’t have all the answers. Our student’s stories are expressions of belief and strength.

During this year of unprecedented challenges and change, University College students—you—are writing better descriptions. In the face of volatility, you are demonstrating the strength to direct your own future and the courage to engage with the world around you. Amidst uncertainty and ambiguity, you continue to question everything, to push through challenges and to express a tireless determination to succeed. In this year of disruption and discord, you are showing us that motivation and self-discipline are more than words on a poster, and that the most rewarding personal transformations occur when a relentless pursuit of knowledge is unhindered by setbacks and failures.

As you help us better describe what it means to be a part-time student at Syracuse University, know the one thing that will never change is University College’s unwavering belief in you—the confident and authentic you.

In your service,

Michael J. Frasciello, Ph.D., Dean

University Trains Local Teachers to Teach in the Virtual Environment

Julia Alder-Deyett has been teaching school for 28 years, and this is her 10th year teaching in the Syracuse City School District. This year, Deyett, a teacher at Webster Elementary School, will teach 27 kindergarten students general education in a special education classroom. She will be joined by a special education teacher and a teaching assistant. Some of her students will be taught using the hybrid model and the others will be learning virtually. Deyett says that one of the biggest challenges she and other teachers faced last spring, when they had to adapt to teaching virtually, was keeping the students engaged. “No matter what my co-teacher and I tried, we couldn’t get them to log on and participate,” she says.

University College Dean Michael Frasciello speaks at a
Sept. 3 press conference at Syracuse City Hall.

In August, Syracuse University partnered with Blackboard to offer K-12 educators the opportunity to sharpen their skills and learn new strategies to teach students in a virtual environment. Nearly 300 teachers in the Syracuse City School District participated in the online course free of charge.

Deyett says the course was invaluable. “I have learned that routines and procedures are a must. Students need to know what is expected of them. The clearer the expectations, the better the outcome,” she says. Deyett  says providing office hours and offering ways for families to contact her is also important. What was particularly useful for Deyett was the section on how to adapt virtual learning for all students, no matter their level of ability or disability.

At a press conference on Sept. 3, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh talked about the challenges that face local and national industries and educational institutions as a result of the pandemic. He thanked Syracuse University and Blackboard for offering this program to Central New York educators. “What I love about this community and the partnerships we have is that even as we are going through our own challenges, we are looking for ways to help each other,” said Walsh. “That’s what today is all about. Syracuse University, specifically, is looking beyond campus to find ways to help their community. We are very appreciative of the University’s support and partnership.”

Syracuse University Vice Chancellor J. Michael Haynie said that during an unprecedented school year that is impacting everyone, it will take all of us pulling together to meet the issues and challenges facing teachers at all levels. “This year, we at Syracuse University—like our colleagues in the Syracuse City School District—are innovating and adapting every day to not only meet and overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but to emerge as a stronger institution given what we learn from this experience. I am pleased that Syracuse University is in a position to leverage some of those learnings and offer our unique expertise and resources to support teachers with specific and tailored training to help them effectively engage students in a virtual environment.”

University College (UC) at Syracuse University is the continuing and professional studies college of Syracuse University. Dean Michael Frasciello says that UC is ideally situated to support the school districts in the region in preparation for remote and full online instruction. “As Syracuse University’s academic unit focused entirely on developing rigorous and differentiated online teaching and learning, this teacher training opportunity is another example of how our longstanding partnerships with regional school districts benefit so many,” says Frasciello. “Partnering with Blackboard to seamlessly extend their training courses to teachers and educators is another example of University College’s dedication to the region and our commitment to serving as the gateway to Syracuse University for continuing and professional part-time studies.”

The course, “Blended Learning and Online Strategies for K-12,” provides teachers with tactics for designing courses for the online classroom. Deyett says a lot of the methods she learned will need to be adjusted to fit the needs of her kindergarten students. Simple strategies such as font size, colors and graphics can help hold a child’s attention. “Another strategy I learned was to prerecord myself and then log on as a student to see if what you want taught is being achieved,” she says.

“Given the circumstances we are facing this school year, the course content being offered to teachers through this program is especially relevant,” adds Jaime Alicea, superintendent of the Syracuse City School District. “Virtual learning is still new for so many of our staff and students and any chance we have to provide ways for us to improve is appreciated.” Alicea says that while the pandemic has separated us in many ways in our daily lives, it has also brought our community together. “Opportunities like this online learning class demonstrate not only the dedication of Syracuse teachers and staff, but also the power of our community and what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Over 500 teachers in 27 districts throughout Central New York registered for the online course.  Through the generosity of the Allyn Foundation, the Central New York Community Foundation and private donations, four sessions of the course were offered free of charge. In addition, Blackboard and University College matched the registration fee dollar-for-dollar in order to offer the course free of charge to K-12 local teachers. Syracuse University has a longstanding partnership with Blackboard to provide a virtual learning environment that is accessible and relevant to students across the globe. Additional private donations have made it possible to expand the course offering to teachers throughout the Central New York region.


Virtual Fulbright Program Offers Unique Learning Experience

The Fulbright program is a widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program that offers accomplished students and scholars from around the world the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research and exchange ideas. Scholars travel to the United States to immerse themselves in culture, local geography and academics in order to advance their education. The English Language Institute (ELI) at University College (UC) has been the recipient of the Fulbright English for Graduate Studies grant for five years. The grant provides English writing and language skills to students planning to continue their studies in the U.S.

ELI Instructor Constance Walters has a discussion with Fulbright students

ELI Instructor Constance Walters has a virtual discussion with Fulbright students.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was offered virtually, which meant that students and instructors had to adjust to a new way of learning and teaching. “Although it was certainly a very different experience than in-person classes, I was able to develop relationships with some of my students, particularly through virtual office hours,” says instructor Constance Walters. “I really appreciated and enjoyed that face-to-face time with them and the comments they wrote at the end of the course made it clear that they really appreciated that time, too.”

The high standards set by the instructors at the English Language Institute motivated Nanan Nuraini to learn and participate in each session and assignment. Nuraini lives in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, with her two children. Her husband worked in Africa but returned to Indonesia to take care of their children while Nuraini waits for her visa to be processed for her anticipated arrival in the United States. Nuraini has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Padjadjaran University in Indonesia and a master’s degree in psychology of education from the University of Bristol, U.K. When she arrives in the U.S., she will begin working on a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Nuraini was grateful to be accepted into the Fulbright program because she knew that developing her English language skills would strengthen her contributions in the field of neuroscience and psychology.  While she said that initially, the virtual learning classroom was challenging, it became easier as the students and teachers got to know each other. “The instructors are supportive, helpful and warm which made me feel accepted and not hesitate to ask questions,” she says.

As part of her Ph.D. program, Nuraini plans on publishing numerous research articles that focus on creating better treatments for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. “I also want to contribute to society in Indonesia, particularly mothers who struggle with motherhood and postpartum depression.”

Ekaterina Tretiakova is from Kostroma, a historic city in western Russia. From a young age, Tretiakova was hungry for knowledge about the world around her—the culture, language, arts and literature. She spent her adolescent years taking English, German and Spanish classes, attending art school and visiting summer and winter camps devoted to foreign exchange programs. “My early passion for learning foreign cultures inspired me to enter the department of foreign languages and become a teacher of English and German,” says Tretiakova.

While teaching in both the private and public sector, Tretiakova continued her studies and received a second degree in marketing. She worked for three years as a manager for a production company before returning to the field of education. “I’ve been working for an international IT company teaching English to IT specialists,” she says. “As the company rapidly expanded, our specialists were required to travel overseas. It was heartrending to watch their struggle to learn to speak different languages and understand the culture of the countries they visited.”

Tretiakova will be attending Syracuse’s School of Education to begin a master’s program in instructional design and assessment. She said the virtual ELI program was comparable to in-class instruction. The program was beneficial and gave her the resources she needs for future research. “Learning how to structure a paper, write an abstract and an introduction was really useful,” she says. She also learned about possible funding sources for research projects. Because Tretiakova will continue her studies at Syracuse University, she found the introduction to campus—the library, business incubator and other facilities—will help her feel at home.

“The immersive program is designed to give graduate school students an academic English course as well as an introduction to a broad array of University resources to help them get the most out of their academic experience,” says David Lind, director of ELI. Eight schools/colleges and departments across campus participated in teaching the students about culture, history, diversity and inclusion, and the many resources available at the library.

University College staff held a panel discussion for the students that focused on the history of African American civil rights both past and present. Tyler Bell, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Education, Marsha Senior, director of the HEOP Program and assistant director of student administrative services at UC, and Nichole Henry, UC’s director of admissions, led the discussion. “We utilized visual thinking strategies to analyze a collage of images that have impacted underrepresented and marginalized communities in 2020,” says Bell. “The students thought that this was a very powerful lecture and genuinely learned a lot regarding the historical and contemporary implications of events affecting African Americans as seen through their verbal engagement and continuous comments throughout the presentation.”

composite of students from Indonesia holding up signs that spell out THANK YOU SYRACUSE ELI

Indonesian students created a poster to say “thank you” to the English Language Institute.

Indonesian student Tryanti Abdulrahman thought the panel presentation fit well with her class discussions about slavery in the U.S. “I learned a lot on this topic through the lens of injustice,” says Abdulrahman. “The most provoking part of this topic was when our instructor Connie Walters asked us to connect the story to the history in my country.” As a result, Abdulrahman said she has become more culturally responsive and understands how sensitive the race issue is.

Abdulrahman grew up in Gorontalo, a province on the island of Sulawesi. She now lives in Bekasi, a city in West Java, Indonesia. She earned a master’s degree in multicultural education in foreign language teaching from Ohio State University and plans to complete a Ph.D. in reading and literacy for early and middle childhood education at Ohio State University. “My continued studies would provide me with the knowledge and expertise in reading and literacy as well as knowledge about the world, social relations, identities and power,” says Abdulrahman.

In addition to learning about the history and culture of the United States, the scholars found many other beneficial aspects of the Fulbright English for Graduate Studies program. Tretiakova, who has never studied abroad, found the teaching approach much different than what she experienced in Russia. “It was a very valuable experience,” she says. “The teachers provided a logical and clear framework on what needed to be done and provided different methods for research and the logic of each.”

“I appreciate that our instructors gave us meaningful materials and provided clear instruction. Homework and class activities focused on academic language development while teaching us the academic tools we need,” says Abdulrahman. The program provided training on plagiarism, giving the students a better understanding of intellectual property and how to cite works correctly. “I have learned about plagiarism before but with this instruction, I gained a deeper understanding and passed the plagiarism certification test.”

The students who were interviewed said that the most valuable part of the three-week virtual program was the poster project and presentation that was part of their final assignment. “It required me to study my topic in depth and apply the theories and practices of the English language,” says Abdulrahman.

“While all of the lessons were valuable, I think learning how to create and present a poster was the most beneficial,” adds Nuraini. “I had the opportunity to create a poster in a limited time, using minimal resources and then present it to teachers and fellow Fulbright students. While I was anxious to present it, it was a wonderful experience. I now have all the resources I need to perform my best in the upcoming Ph.D. program at the University of Missouri.”

“The Fulbright Program was a chance of a lifetime for me,” says Tretiakova. “It will allow me to advance and to move to an absolutely new level of professionalism.”

“I want to thank the English Language Institute at Syracuse University for a great program,” says Abdulrahman. “The classes challenged me to think, perform and grow to a higher level. The virtual program offered quality program content and a high standard of excellence. I want to thank my instructors for facilitating such a positive learning environment and teaching me lessons that I will carry over into my life’s journey. They truly made this three-week program one of the best I’ve ever had.”

University College Partnerships Provides Certificate Programs for Professionals

University College has partnered with Pathstream, an online digital skills provider, to offer four continuing education non-credit certificate programs in collaboration with leading technology companies.

These hands-on, non-credit certificate programs equip individuals with skills to prepare them for their next job, promotion or the launch of their own business. Programs are focused on applied technology career areas with high demand and job growth such as project management, digital marketing, 3D development and customer relationship management.

“These partnerships are an important part of Syracuse University’s response to the rapidly increasing demand for access to non-traditional programs, certificates, and credentials,” says University College Dean Michael Frasciello. “Non-traditional learners are turning to University College for executive education, short-courses, informal alternative education and micro-credentials. Our non-credit certificate programs are accelerating our response to ensure that these learners continue re-skilling and re-tooling to stay competitive and keep learning over the course of their lives.”

Current non-credit certificate offerings:

These programs are set to start in September and October, new dates will be added for the Spring 2021.

For more information, please visit