Greetings from the Director

Danielle Smith portrait
Danielle Smith
Director,  Renée Crown University Honors Program

To the Community of Honors Program Alumni,

As Syracuse University, and other colleges and universities around the nation and the world transitioned to virtual classes early in the spring semester, we witnessed the monumental resilience of the SU community as we connected virtually, as we could no longer continue teaching and learning on campus. We were all heart-broken as we watched family members help students load their belongings into vehicles lining the streets in front of residence halls. Students who were able to, made their way home, and housing was found for students who could not return home. We were shocked as libraries, dining halls, gyms and other facilities began to close across campus. Labs and offices were closed, and we watched as faculty and student researchers collected the essential equipment and resources they needed to work from home. Events were postponed, and then cancelled. In our classrooms, as we shifted to remote teaching and learning, our discussions began to focus on the broader questions. What will our new normal look like? How do we process the emotions that threaten to overwhelm us?

At the end of the semester, I attended student final presentations in Professor Patricia Burak’s class, The Power of Evil in Post-Revolutionary Russian Literature. The course focuses on stories of the human experience during this era, most of extreme suffering which we cannot imagine. In their presentations of works by Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and other iconic Russian writers, students explored the sense of morality, beliefs and character that strengthened ordinary people in their struggles to survive. Their analyses provided insight as we examine questions of the human condition in our own modern lives.

Faculty members continue to reach out to both current students and alumni, particularly during this time of pandemic. Professors Cathryn Newton and Sam Gorovitz, who teach the honors course, Linked Lenses: Science, Philosophy and the Pursuit of Knowledge, and their students reflect on their long-lasting relationships in this story:  Although we cannot meet to celebrate in the near future, we remain a strong community. We are currently separated in distant spaces, yet we will always be together as an Honors community.

My very best wishes for a safe and healthy summer,

Danielle Taana Smith

Director, Renée Crown University Honors Program

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