From Maxwell Perspective...

90th Anniversary Observances

Look Who's 90 | Lectures, Panels, Symposia | 90th Anniversary Party | Gathering in Washington | Carrying Forward the Spirit of the Senator

Look Who’s 90

Last fall, the Maxwell School’s year of 90th-anniversary celebrations started big, with an array of special scholarly events, a School-wide 1920s-themed party, and a star-studded celebration in the nation’s capital.

By Dana Cooke
Principal event photography by Chuck Wainwright

A "Roaring Twenties" themed party raging in Eggers Hall
On campus, the centerpiece of anniversary celebrations was the 1920s-themed party held October 9 in the Strasser Commons.

When an institution as venerable as the Maxwell School reaches a signpost as significant as 90 years, it’s obviously worth noting . . . and worth celebrating. It is a time to take stock of the accomplishments and respect built over nine decades. And it is a time to prepare for the sort of future that the past profoundly suggests.

At Maxwell, the 90th anniversary serves a variety of goals, mixing the past with the future. It is a time to:

Kent Syverud talking to a disabilities advocate, Brian McLane  
The celebration drew a wide range of guests, including (above left, l-r) disabilities advocate Brian McLane, a namesake of a Maxwell-based scholarship; Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud; and SU development officer Deborah Armstrong.

Marvel at the achievements of so many years. Though history lessons have been only one part of the anniversary year, history is at the core. The Passport to Our Past activity, special historical displays mounted through the Maxwell/Eggers complex, and similar displays on hand for the November 20 Washington dinner all allowed the Maxwell community to marvel at the depth and breadth of Maxwell’s history, and how different was the world into which the Maxwell School was born.

Find what is unchanged. And, though the world was different in 1924, certain values championed then remain today — in fact, they help define Maxwell still. They include the School’s emphasis on citizenship education and its interdisciplinary approach to research and education. Recognizing those values in the School’s founding helps reassert those values in the School’s culture today (even though other values now round out the picture).

Richard Ravitch, former NY lieutenant governor giving a lecture. An art exhibition on the theme of fighting ant-immigrant racism and xenophobia
Other anniversary events on campus were substantive, such as (top) a Tanner Lecture with former New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch and (bottom) the Carving Through Borders print exhibition.

Celebrate the diversity of today’s Maxwell. Events held throughout the year and sponsored by the academic departments, centers, and institutes — lectures, panels, poster sessions, etc. — served to honor the contributions of those units while also suggesting the great breadth and diversity of Maxwell as a whole. (Unit events are described in Lectures, Panels, Symposia.)

CBS reporter Bob Schieffer and Brooking Institution president Strobe Talbott chopping it up
Then, on November 20, a second party took place in Washington, D.C. Among guests were (far left, l-r) veteran CBS broadcast journalist Bob Schieffer and Brookings Institution president Strobe Talbott.

Build toward the future. As the School entered its 90th anniversary year, Dean James Steinberg announced that this would be an occasion also to prepare for Maxwell’s centennial, and to assure that Maxwell approaches 2024 with programs “every bit as meaningful as those that have defined its excellence to this point.”  This exploration of future needs is titled the Tenth Decade Project. It was officially introduced at the anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C., which doubled as a fund-raising event for the campaign that will support Tenth Decade initiatives.

This and many other anniversary events are described in the following pages. To learn about additional events upcoming this spring, visit        


This article appeared in the winter 2015 print edition of Maxwell Perspective; © 2015 Maxwell School of Syracuse University. To request a copy, e-mail