Syracuse University to invest $1 million annually to expand undergraduate research, creative opportunities

Student researcher in library

Syracuse University has announced the commitment of $1 million annually to support a new Center for Undergraduate Research, the collaborative vision of students, faculty, staff and administrators to strengthen the University’s position as a preeminent and inclusive student-focused research institution. With resources from the Invest Syracuse initiative, the new comprehensive undergraduate research center quadruples central University support for research and creative work by undergraduates.

Chancellor Kent Syverud praised the collective effort by multiple constituents—including the Student Association, the University Senate Research Committee and the Renée Crown University Honors Program—and the leadership of Cathryn R. Newton, senior advisor to the Chancellor and Provost for faculty engagement, who was charged with bringing together the best ideas of students, faculty and staff.

“I am grateful to Professor Newton, our students, faculty and staff for working so tirelessly to turn this vision into a reality,” says Chancellor Syverud. “There is evidence that this kind of commitment to undergraduate research will help us recruit, retain and graduate a more diverse and talented student body, and prepare them for post-graduate success.”

Reporting to both Provost Wheatly and Vice President for Research John Liu, the new center will expand access to undergraduate student research grants. Newton will oversee the implementation of the center until it is fully staffed.

“The enthusiastic and visionary work of students, faculty and staff has created an engine of advocacy for undergraduate research and creative work that will be recognized and respected across the campus,” says Newton. “This initiative delivers on multiple aspects of the Academic Strategic Plan, including support for discovery, innovation, student success and a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Undergraduate research and original creative work have powerful impacts on the success of all students, and these trends are even more pronounced across diverse constituencies. This elevates the climate of creativity for students on our campus in lasting ways.”

“The creation of the Center for Undergraduate Research is a vital step in supporting a more expansive and interdisciplinary research enterprise across the University,” says Wheatly. “By providing more centralized and coordinated support, we are encouraging increased research productivity across all University constituencies.”

The Center for Undergraduate Research will work across colleges and schools to foster and support diverse undergraduate engagement in faculty-guided scholarly research and creative inquiry, helping students identify and pursue internal and external research opportunities and support. It will also bring new efficiencies for proposal planning, undergraduate conferences, poster sessions and other activities to train, support and mentor students interested in research.

“Given the immense power of mentoring and original work in post-graduation success, this will have broad and long-lived effects,” says Newton. “Because our center defines research and creative inquiry broadly, it will impact students across disciplines and programs and open up avenues of research well beyond the STEM fields. Students will learn to understand disciplinary methodologies and norms, develop a repertory of research and communications skills, and communicate their findings to reach broader audiences beyond the classroom. They will see how new knowledge and discovery can impact the world.”

Cynthia Harris ’18, a recent graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, was involved in conceiving and implementing the center. “Undergraduate research expands your horizons in so many ways: it vastly increases your network of people, and therefore the number of views to which you are exposed,” Harris says. “Having this million-dollar investment will greatly expand the experiences—and the networks—of students across the curriculum, and this will prepare them better for their lives and careers.”

Liu says this commitment to undergraduate research will further create a culture of curiosity and discovery on the Syracuse University campus: “By providing a more robust and focused path to scholarship and meaningful research, our undergraduates will be better positioned for competitive funding that supports further academic inquiry.”

Story by SU News staff

Photo by Stephen Sartori of student researcher in Bird Library