A Legacy of Leadership: The Chancellors and Presidents of Syracuse University

John Edward Corbally Jr.

Term of Office: September 1969 – March 1971
Inauguration Date: 30 April 1970

As Syracuse University’s eighth Chancellor and President, John E. Corbally Jr. saw the institution through one of its most turbulent periods. Serving during the University’s centennial year, Corbally’s administration coincided with a period of widespread unrest on American campuses surrounding issues such as the Vietnam War and civil rights. He weathered the 1970 Student Strike and the response to a football discrimination crisis when nine African American players – later mistakenly called the Syracuse 8 – led a boycott in protest of the program’s chronically racist practices. Corbally also inherited a University experiencing financial and structural challenges. Despite his brief tenure, Corbally is generally remembered for his sound management of a volatile period. The Student Strike ended without major violence and only minimal property damage, and the commission he created to investigate the football controversy established the beginnings of change within that program. He also began implementing plans to address the University’s fiscal and organizational issues, though his resignation in March 1971 to become president of the University of Illinois meant he ultimately would not see those plans come to fruition. Additional information about Corbally’s brief tenure as chancellor is available in the Archives’ Chancellor John E. Corbally Jr. Records.

Portrait of Chancellor and President John Edward Corbally Jr., circa 1969. Syracuse University Portrait Collection, University Archives.

Photograph of Chancellor Corbally addressing the Assembly on Governance town hall meeting, 26 February 1970. Syracuse University Photograph Collection, University Archives.

In February 1970, students called for a campus-wide referendum on the “ROTC question” and student governance. A town hall forum was held in Manley Field House with remarks by Student Government President David Ifshin, Professor Eric Gardner, and Chancellor Corbally.