Biography of Nancy Cantor

Biography of Nancy Cantor

Nancy Cantor
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Nancy Cantor to Become Chancellor of Rutgers-Newark Campus on Jan. 1

Nancy Cantor is a distinguished higher education leader who is helping forge a new understanding of the role of universities in society.  As Chancellor and President of Syracuse University, she spearheads pursuit of its vision, Scholarship in Action, 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 Cantor's leadership, Syracuse University has built on its historical strengths, pursuing cross-sector collaborations in the City of Syracuse that simultaneously enrich scholarship and education, spurring transformation 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, demonstrating the inter-connectedness 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 and annual distinction on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.  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. Among the ways she brings these combined experiences and domains of expertise to bear on her work are as co-chair of the American Commonwealth Partnership’s Presidents Council, a member of the Steering Committee of the Anchor Institutions Task Force, and 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; 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.  A leading voice on inclusion, diversity, and full participation, she speaks and writes frequently on these issues, is Principal Investigator on a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant, and has served on national bodies including The Century Foundation Task Force on Preventing Community Colleges from Becoming Separate and Unequal, the National Research Council Advisory Committee for the Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel and as co-chair of its Committee on Women in Science and Engineering, the Congressional Commission on Military Training and Gender Related Issues, and the Steering Committee of the Ford Foundation project Building Knowledge for Social Justice.

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 how they 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.  Her academic work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation of New York, among many others.

She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.  Among the boards of which Cantor is a member are the American Institutes for Research, the New York Academy of Sciences, the UC Davis Board of Advisers, and the Say Yes to Education Foundation.  She is also past chair of the board of directors of the American Association for Higher Education, the American Council on Education, and a former trustee of Sarah Lawrence College, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and The Future of Minority Studies.  She is a past board member of the National Academies Board on Higher Education and the Workforce, National Academies Roundtable for Science, Technology and Sustainability, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, American Psychological Society, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.  In addition, she was national co-chair of Imagining America's Tenure Team Initiative.

Among the awards that Cantor has received are 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, the Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from the American Council on Education, and the Frank W. Hale, Jr. Diversity Leadership Award from the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.