I received the following email from Syracuse University today:
The email is promoting an event where Bob Costas, noted sportscaster, will appear. Notice, however, that the university refers to him as “Bob Costas ’74” – the implication here is that Mr. Costas is an alumnus of Syracuse University – he is not.
Mr. Costas is an “honorary alumnus” – who left Syracuse before graduation to pursue career opportunities.
What kind of message does this send to students? It’s not important that you graduate, just that you succeed. If you can succeed without us, that’s fine – and if you do really well, we’ll give you the whole “alumnus” thing anyway, and welcome you back any time with open arms.
I would expect more from Syracuse – but perhaps the Chancellor is merely executing her vision to “test our notions of who is a scholar and what scholarship is.” Perhaps “outward-looking engagements both optimize education and yield new forms of scholarship and new scholarly arrangements, propelling us forward as an academic institution” do not necessarily require graduation, and completion should become an afterthought.
If that’s the message the Chancellor wishes to send to students, congratulations. If not, I’d suggest referring to Mr. Costas simply as Mr. Costas, no ’74 about it.