A Quick Bit on Nancy Cantor and The Relationship Between Inclusion and Standards

Jose Vilson Jose

First, read this article. Check this excerpt:

Since she took over at the university seven years ago, the institution has spent tens of millions of dollars—and attracted much more—to revitalize this sagging Rust Belt city. It has helped refurbish parks, taken over an abandoned building where drug dealers once grew marijuana, and turned an old furniture warehouse into a new home for academic programs in art, drama, and fashion design. The university is encouraging professors to focus their research on the city, while giving free tuition to local high-school graduates.

Ms. Cantor talks about the institution as a “public good,” not an ivory tower. But some professors here say she has spent too little time and money on what goes on inside the university’s classrooms, laboratories, and libraries where traditional education and scholarship take place. Before she came, they say, Syracuse was on the way to becoming a more selective university that competed with some of the nation’s best private urban institutions. Now, the chancellor seems most intent on providing opportunities—both for this struggling city and for disadvantaged students. As a result, Syracuse is fading on the national stage, falling in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of national universities and dropping out—before it could be forced out—of the prestigious Association of American Universities, whose members are considered the nation’s top research institutions.

After reading the article, I thought: “So, let me get this straight. Syracuse University recruits from the same SAT scores, recruit from the same top of the class, builds more infrastructure, develops an amazing experiential relationship with the surrounding city, and doubles the percent of students of color, and the standards are somehow lowered? I know I’m a bit biased, but Nancy Cantor has done amazing work to ensure that Syracuse as an institution has lots more integrity in how it achieves high standards and diversity. Yes, I can highlight the -ahem- difficulties with claiming that caring more about the surrounding urban areas and issues of inclusion lead to a decrease in the academic quality of the institution, but I’d rather just stand behind those who continue to empower those who believe in quality higher education for all.”


Mr. Vilson, who is working in all aspects of education …