By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

When you’re a dean at an institution of higher learning, the complexities of that role make it a given that every once in a while, you’ll be “taking it on the chin.”

Today, good sport Dean Elizabeth Liddy, of the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University, stepped up and took that metaphor a lot more literally–taking a shaving-cream pie in the face to raise funds for the United Way.

It was part of the School’s annual bake sale and “Pie-A-Professor” day conducted as a way to contribute to the community.

In midway-barker style, School staff member Tess Schaufler goaded passing students on the SU quad side of Hinds Hall to get into the game.  

Faculty member Joseph Treglia let his students out of class for a few minutes to enjoy the festivities. As Schaufler kept polling the crowd, asking, “Who wants to pie the dean?” one young student finally stepped up.  After a minute or so of making nice in a face-to-face conversation with the Dean, he let the pie fly—rather gently–then squiggled it round-and-round for good measure.

Little did he know, the surprise wasn’t over. Dean Liddy turned the tables and gave him a little taste of the pie-ing right back. It was all to the entertainment, laughter, and cascading of dollar bills contributed by students, staff, and faculty, all gathered for the fun.

At first, before the threw the pie, said Jeffrey Scott Kaye, a master’s IM student, he felt like he was about to get kicked out of school. “But I think all my fellow students got a kick out of it,” he joked, adding (with a little fist pump), “It was invigorating!”

Why subject yourself to a pie-throwing, when there are so many other grueling issues a Dean must face?

“It’s great to do this for the reason of raising the dollars, but a lot of it is about the esprit de corps of the School,” Liddy surmised. “I can take a pie, a student can throw a pie, and it’s OK, we’re still friends,” she smiled, later adding, “It was fun!”

The opportunity to pie the dean raised about $65 in just a few minutes, while another $65 plus was raised by other faculty members who sat for the occasion, including faculty members Scott Nicholson and Yang Wang.

Nicholson, who’s done this before, had a pat, personality-suitable answer when someone asked him what it feels like to have a shaving cream pie pushed into your face. “Soft and Squishy,” he cajoled. Yang, wearing a knee-length yellow poncho popped over his head, admitted that students had not hit him too hard, or smashed the pies into his face too much–at least in his experience on this day.

Also stepping up to the “plate” were adjunct faculty members Mike Clarke, Joe Flateau, and Chris Kirkegaard.

Inside Hinds Hall, visitors were being served soups, salads and other sorts of lunches from crock pots, along with cookies and cupcakes, and also had photo opportunities with SU’s mascot, Otto, to also raise some funds.

Between the bake sale and the the pie-in-the-face activities, the iSchool rasied $921 for United Way today.