Syracuse University continues an ongoing assessment of its relationship with the city

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Syracuse University is currently assessing its relationships with the city to better address issues in the community by consolidating resources.

An ongoing assessment of Syracuse University’s relationships with local organizations, the city of Syracuse government and other groups is intended to address different issues in the community by consolidating resources.

SU Chancellor Kent Syverud originally announced the community engagement initiative during his address to the campus community earlier this month. The initiative hopes to catalog all of the direct resources SU provides to different businesses, governments and organizations. Syverud tasked Vice President for Community Engagement Bea González and Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation Mike Haynie with overseeing the assessment and analyzing the economic impact of SU’s community relationships.

Haynie said there are “quite literally hundreds and hundreds” of relationships between the university, the Syracuse community, entities in central New York and other organizations and private sector partners.

He said that when Syverud used the word “relationships” during his speech, the chancellor was speaking broadly, referencing the university’s economic and financial relationships, but also other things such as SU’s engagement with organizations in Syracuse where students can get hands-on career training and experience.

“Where we’re at right now in the process is really simply trying to get our arms around the full scale and scope of the relationships that Syracuse University maintains,” Haynie said.

González said one of the issues she’s interested in addressing through the assessment in Syracuse is multigenerational poverty. She said she wants to make sure different groups working on the issue collaborate with each other, including SU professors and the Greater Syracuse HOPE initiative, a local anti-poverty coalition that is an extension of the United Way of Central New York.

González is one of the members of the Greater Syracuse HOPE initiative’s executive committee.

She added, however, that the university is currently only in the stage of documenting all of its relationships with different groups in the area to form a baseline for the overall assessment.

Syverud expects a report on the assessment by May, Haynie said, as well as recommendations on how the university can construct a strategy to better interact with its partnerships.

“The university and the city are connected to each other by many things,” González said. “… And so my goal is to really create as much opportunity for both the community and the university to engage with each other.”

During his speech Syverud estimated SU’s partnerships provide community organizations with “many millions of dollars annually.”

Haynie said that estimation was reached in part by consulting the university’s services agreement with the city. In the services agreement, which was renewed last April, SU pledged to contribute about $7 million to the city over a five-year span.

Aside from the community engagement assessment, the two SU administrators are also tasked with overseeing an economic impact analysis.

The economic impact analysis, Haynie said, will be more straightforward than the community engagement assessment. The university will contract a firm to document the economic impact SU has on the region. Specifically, he said for example, the number of employees SU hires from the area, the wages workers are paid and the economic impact of SU athletics.

There are currently five different firms in the running to be hired for the analysis, Haynie said. Syverud said the analysis is scheduled to be released in June.

González said she will be focusing more on the community engagement assessment, rather than the economic analysis.

“We need to just find some baselines and understand kind of where we are to figure out where we’re going,” she said.


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