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Nancy Cantor Honored for Ongoing Commitment to Diversity in Higher Education

March 08, 2011


Nancy Cantor, chancellor and president of Syracuse University (NY), received the 2011 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from ACE today.

The award is named in honor of Reginald Wilson, senior scholar emeritus at ACE and former director of the organization's Office of Minority Concerns, and was presented at ACE's 93rd Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. It is presented every year to an individual who has made outstanding contributions and demonstrated sustained commitment to diversity in higher education.

"Chancellor Cantor's record shows that for her, opening the halls of academia to all people is a top priority," said Diana Córdova, director of ACE's Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity. "Her deep commitment to diversity is reflected in her day-to-day work as well as her pivotal role in one of the defining moments for affirmative action."

Her role in the history of affirmative action in higher education was cemented during the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court cases, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. As provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan during this time, she played a central part in preparing the university's case.

Cantor promotes the Scholarship in Action vision at Syracuse that encourages access, support and engagement to promote inclusion. Among the activities she has helped build are the Intergroup Dialogue Program, which promotes conversations about issues among members of the university and local communities; the WellsLink leadership program, which supports students of color on campus; and the university's partnership with its native hosts, the Haudenosaunee. In addition, Cantor helped initiate Say Yes to Education: Syracuse, a program that promotes post secondary success for at-risk youth within the entire local school district. Say Yes to Education: Syracuse is the largest school improvement program of its kind in the nation.

Before becoming the 11th president and chancellor of Syracuse, Cantor served as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and held numerous positions at the University of Michigan, including provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, vice provost for academic affairs, and professor of psychology. Previously, she was chair of the department of psychology at Princeton University (NJ).

An author of numerous books, chapters, and scientific journal articles, Cantor holds an A.B. from Sarah Lawrence College (NY) and a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University (CA). Among other honors, she received the Carnegie Foundation's 2008 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award for her work on community engagement at Syracuse. Cantor is the past chair of the board of directors of the American Association for Higher Education and former ACE board chair.

She joins a distinguished list of prior award recipients who have shown an unfailing commitment to advancing diversity in higher education.

Previous Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award winners include: Bob H. Suzuki, former president of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College (FL); William E. Cox, president and CEO of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education; Frank L. Matthews, editor-in chief of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education; James C. Moeser, chancellor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Diana S. Natalicio, president of the University of Texas at El Paso; Tomás Arciniega, president emeritus, California State University-Bakersfield; Jacquelyn Belcher, former president, Georgia Perimeter College; Jewel Plummer Cobb, president and professor of biological science emerita, California State University, Fullerton; Alfredo G. de los Santos, Jr., former vice chancellor for educational and student development, Maricopa Community Colleges (AZ), and research professor, Arizona State University; James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus, University of Michigan; Juliet V. García, president, University of Texas at Brownsville; Kenneth Gros Louis, chancellor, Indiana University-Bloomington; Tom Joyner, nationally syndicated radio personality and philanthropist; Frank H.T. Rhodes, president emeritus, Cornell University (NY); and John Brooks Slaughter, president and CEO, The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc.

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