The George Arents Award is Syracuse University’s highest alumni honor. This award is presentedannually to alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their chosen fields. The first class of awardees were presented in 1939 and the award presentation has continued every year afterwards.
Syracuse University was established in 1871 just 6 miles from Onondaga the capital of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. In 1939 the first Onondagan graduated from Syracuse University. Nineteen years later, another Onondagan graduated from SU and his name is Oren Lyons.
Since the time Oren attended the university the Native American enrollment has increased by leaps and bounds. Today the enrollment at Syracuse University has reached 150 Native Americans students, an acknowledgment to the Haudenosaunee leaders who worked to build the Native American program and the Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship.
In earlier history of Syracuse University George Arents was a successful industrialist and inventor serving on the Syracuse University Board of Trustees from 1930 to 1960. He endowed a fund to award in which to recognize “SU alumni for their extraordinary achievements.”
On Saturday, November 12, 2011, the George Arents award ceremony was held in a warmly decorated room filled with 400 guests at the Shine Student Center. A large showing of 75 Haudenosaunee many who are Syracuse University alumni, current students, professors, lacrosse scholar athletes , PhD’s, MA’s, MS’s, BS’, BA’s came to town to witness one of our own to receive the university’s highest award. The Arents Award ceremony is a historical and proud moment for the Native American student population at Syracuse University.
Chancellor, Nancy Cantor begins the award ceremony by saying, “Arents recipients seize the opportunity provided by Syracuse University, break boundaries, and reap individual and societal rewards.”
The recognition of honor bestowed to an onhgwahonwe, Native American, benefits the Native American community at large by reaffirming to our neighbors and to ourselves that our community has numerous citizens and cultural foundations of historical significance.
Oren Lyons is a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor at University of Buffalo, co-editor of Exiled in the Land of the Free, Honorary Chairman of the Iroquois Nationals, supporter of the traditional Circle of Elders, Wounded Knee mediator, an inductee of the Lacrosse National Hall of Fame, and most importantly a leader within one of the last remaining traditional governments in North America – the Haudenosaunee.