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Nancy Cantor

Chancellor and President, Syracuse University

As the eleventh Chancellor and President of Syracuse University, Nancy Cantor is helping to forge a new understanding of the role of universities in society as SU pursues its vision, Scholarship in Action. This entails a view of the university not as a traditional “ivory tower,” but as a public good, an anchor institution that collaborates with partners from all sectors of the economy to more effectively serve the needs of society.

Under Chancellor Cantor's leadership, Syracuse University is building on its historical strengths, pursuing cross-sector collaborations in the City of Syracuse that simultaneously enrich scholarship and education, and change the face of this older industrial city. Meanwhile, these local engagements in key areas—such as environmental sustainability; art, technology, and design; neighborhood and cultural entrepreneurship; and urban school reform—resonate nationally and globally and demonstrate the interconnectedness of the pressing issues of our world.

The breadth, depth, and success of these efforts earned SU the distinction of being among the first institutions to earn the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's classification as a university committed to Community Engagement. They also earned Chancellor Cantor the 2008 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award.

Chancellor Cantor lectures and writes extensively on the role of universities as anchor institutions in their communities, along with other crucial issues in higher education such as rewarding public scholarship, sustainability, liberal education and the creative campus, the status of women in the academy, and racial justice and diversity. Her thought is informed by extensive leadership experience at all levels within public and private universities. She brings these combined experiences and domains of expertise to bear on her work as co-chair of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, a post to which she was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Prior to her appointment at Syracuse, Chancellor Cantor served as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, prior to which she had been dean of its Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and vice provost for academic affairs. She also was professor of psychology and senior research scientist at the Institute for Social Research at Michigan. Previously, she had been chair of the department of psychology at Princeton University.

While at Michigan, she was closely involved in the university’s defense of affirmative action in the cases Grutter and Gratz, decided by the Supreme Court in 2003.

In her role as a social psychologist, Chancellor Cantor is recognized for her scholarly contributions to the understanding of how individuals perceive and think about their social worlds, pursue personal goals, and regulate their behavior to adapt to life’s most challenging social environments. An author of numerous books, chapters, and scientific journal articles, Chancellor Cantor holds an A.B. from Sarah Lawrence College and a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and a member of the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability. She also has received the Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association, the Woman of Achievement Award from the Anti-Defamation League, the Making a Difference for Women Award from the National Council for Research on Women, and the Frank W. Hale, Jr. Diversity Leadership Award from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

Chancellor Cantor is the past chair of the board of directors of the American Association for Higher Education and former chair of the board of the American Council on Education. Among the boards of which she is a member are the American Institutes for Research, Say Yes to Education, and the Future of Minority Studies. She is an Honorary Trustee of the American Psychological Foundation and was national co-chair of Imagining America’s Tenure Team Initiative.

Related Forums

Forum 4:

Contested Politics of Knowledge in the Public University

Nancy Cantor

Held March 7, 2013

Includes video