Crown Family Dedicates New Gift for Honors Program

February 25, 2008

Crown Family Dedicates New Gift for Renée Crown University Honors Program to Dean Cathryn Newton

Monday, February 25, 2008

The family of Syracuse University Trustee Emerita Renée Crown ’50 recently presented SU with a significant new gift in further support of the prestigious Renée Crown University Honors Program to recognize the program’s high level of academic excellence and student achievement, and the leadership of Dean Cathryn Newton, under whose care the program has flourished.

“Renée and I are delighted by the stunning academic quality of the program,” says Lester Crown, “and gratified by Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s commitment to the program and long-term support from the University. In addition, we especially want to recognize and pay tribute to the extraordinary leadership of Dean Cathryn Newton, whose singular dedication, vision and energy have been crucial to the flourishing of the program, as they have been for The College of Arts and Sciences generally. As she turns to new opportunities after eight years of remarkably creative and effective pursuit of academic excellence, we also dedicate this gift to her with great admiration and affection.”

First established in 1963, the University’s Honors Program has borne the name of Renée Crown since 2002, when her family presented a naming gift to celebrate her many contributions to the University. The program, open to all qualified undergraduate students, was subsequently re-envisioned and redeveloped to reflect the University’s emphasis on enriched intellectual depth and breadth, communicative empowerment, global awareness and civic engagement.

“This nationally admired new Honors Program has attracted acclaim for its imaginative emphasis on the attributes students will develop,” says Newton. “As dean, I am deeply grateful for the Crown family’s early recognition of this bold initiative, and I’m tremendously appreciative of this additional and substantial commitment. The Syracuse lineage of gifted honors students will be keenly aware of the enduring strength of the Crowns’ support for their amazingly creative endeavors.”

About 200 students are admitted to the Renée Crown Honors Program each year. In addition to pursuing their chosen academic course of study in their home school or college, honors students participate in a variety of curricular enrichment activities, civic engagement and interdisciplinary honors courses, seminars and workshops. Honors students also complete a comprehensive capstone project appropriate to their major.

“The Crown family’s new gift and ongoing generosity to SU — and the Honors Program — has helped transform the lives of countless students,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “The kind of intellectual engagement that will be supported by their gift gives our students the opportunity to integrate their knowledge and grow as scholars by addressing complex questions and problems facing the world.”

“This magnificent new gift will substantially increase the funding available for student research for capstone projects,” says Samuel Gorovitz, founding director of the Honors Program. “Such support can include funds for materials, equipment, travel to remote sites or other expenses necessary for doing outstanding work. In addition, the new gift — in combination with a strong financial commitment from the University — secures the financial future of the program that bears Renée’s name.”

Students must apply for funding for their capstone projects with well-developed project proposals. Projects range from creative artistic pieces to research requiring fieldwork to basic research done in a laboratory on campus. Some examples:

  • Shannon Kane, a music education major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, is producing a concert, “Tradition and Innovation: The Music of Women Composers” on March 1 in the Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium in Crouse College. The concert will feature works created by women from the early 18th century to contemporary artists and will include performances by the New York State Baroque and celebrated soprano Eileen Strempel, as well as student musicians. The Crown Scholarship program provided funding for an appearance by the New York State Baroque.
  • Robert Sorokanich, a biology major in The College of Arts and Sciences who has also studied broadcast journalism in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, is researching how a drug used to treat ovarian and lung cancers reacts with a naturally occurring compound in the human body. Understanding this process may help scientists develop more effective anticancer drugs. The Crown Scholarship Program provided funds for materials for his experiments. “The funding has been crucial to my research,” Sorokanich says. “My experiments require expensive drugs, chemicals and analysis, and the Crown research grant ensured that money was never a limiting factor.”
  • Faith Abubey, an international relations major in The College of Arts and Sciences, is researching the impact of immigration and immigration policies on family dynamics and acculturation. Her project involves case studies of four immigrant families — from Liberia, Cuba, Myanmar and Europe — and will include a video documentary of the families. The Crown Scholarship Program will help offset costs related to the documentary.