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Syracuse iSchool Prof. Scott Bernard provides founding gift for Executive Doctorate Fund

Thanks to a $10,000 gift from Professor of Practice Scott Bernard G'98, students in the Syracuse University School of Information Studies’ Doctorate of Professional Studies in Information Management now have a flexible fund to use to assist peers who may need financial assistance from time to time.

Bernard, who directs the iSchool’s Executive Doctoral Program, hopes his gift will permanently establish the new Executive Doctoral Program Student Support Fund and serve as a catalyst for others to support it.

“Once I got to know the executive doctorate program as its first director, I saw the need for a fund to help these students through financial situations that arise sporadically,” Bernard said. “The fund could cover such things as travel expenses, support to attend a residency session or a conference, or tuition support for an academic term.”

Paul Brenner, iSchool assistant dean for advancement, said Bernard sets an example for other faculty, not only in his financial support for the program, but also in his innovative thinking. “Prof. Bernard was crucial to the development of the executive doctorate program, and now he has come up with a creative way to ensure its future success,” Brenner said. “He also follows through on his ideas by providing the support to see them realized.”

The fund will be administered by one student representative from each year’s cohort, alumni of the program, and a faculty representative. They will then suggest to iSchool Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy who or what qualifies for support from the fund as a need arises, and she can distribute accordingly.

“We are thrilled to receive yet another gift from Scott, who has long demonstrated his conviction as to the quality of an iSchool education with funding to support our students,” said iSchool Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy. “As the first director of the Executive Doctoral Program, Scott has observed firsthand the temporary financial challenges these students sometimes experience. It is reassuring that we now have the Executive Doctoral Program Student Support Fund for such emergencies. I am hopeful that the situation of these students will resonate with others, who will add their donations to Scott’s founding gift.”

Bernard also sees the fund as a way to bring the group of executive doctorate students together, despite geographical distances and being at various stages in the completion of the degree.

“My hope is that this fund gives the group some resources to build their identity and create a feeling of community,” Bernard said. “That’s really important for cohorts going through this distance learning program, since they only meet face-to-face twice a year for four or five days at a time.”

The Doctorate of Professional Studies is a part-time, limited residency program for mid-career professionals that spans three years. Students attend four- or five-day residencies in mid-May and mid-August and meet for an extended webcast in January. During the academic year, they take online courses, participate in weekly phone calls about coursework, and monthly phone conferences with their peer cohort.

“Without a doubt, many of the individuals in this program will be reaching higher levels of success and will have an ability to contribute to the program and the school,” Bernard said.

Bernard, who has previously supported the iSchool with two naming gifts, said he feels fortunate to be in the position to fulfill what he calls his “stewardship obligation.”

“A number of us who are either adjunct professors or professors of practice have been out there in industry, earning money, and we’ve had success,” he said. “We’re in a really blessed area of the IT profession, which remains very hot and quite lucrative.

“The iSchool is a very special place,” Bernard said. “Our faculty of one characterizes this school in such a unique way. We don’t have departments. The faculty of one creates these neat collaborations in research and teaching. A whole group of people are needed to support that and give the financial resources to keep it going and keep it accelerating. Mine is just a small part of it. This is my academic home, and I have the ability to give a bit and so I do.”

To support the Executive Doctorate Fund or other iSchool initiatives, contact Paul Brenner, assistant dean for advancement, at or 315-443-6139.

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