Building a Community at Maxwell

We just finished our 2014 MAIR Orientation.  As part of this, we were thrilled to welcome back several great alumni who shared tales of their time at Maxwell.  While all of them spoke fondly of their time at Maxwell, they mentioned that they valued the friendships they built the most.  One of the great things about studying at the Maxwell School  is that there is a great sense of community among the students.   This community supports all PAIA students as they move through their academic life at Syracuse and build their careers after they leave the Eggers complex. 

To achieve this, we worked with the staff at Syracuse University’s excellent Outdoor Education and Challenge Course to develop two programs intended for the incoming students at the MPA Colloquium and the MAIR Orientation.

New Maxwell Students on the High Ropes at SU's Challenge Course
New Maxwell Students on the High Ropes at SU’s Challenge Course. Photo: Josh Kennedy


On Tuesday, August 19, the MAIR students were up on the Outdoor Challenge Course at the top of Skytop hill on the University’s South Campus.  While the highlight of the afternoon was seeing our students swing from the high ropes nearly 30 feet above the ground, it was great to see people who had just met hours before work together to solve problems and support each other in completing the obstacle course at height.

This followed July’s MPA Colloquium, where we had worked with the Outdoor Challenge Course staff to develop one of their portable programs.  While we were chased off the quad by poor weather, the students had an excellent time working together to put tennis balls onto pvc pipes using only the power of string.

Maxwell students trying to string some movements together.
Maxwell students trying to string some movements together. Credit: Josh Kennedy

While it is difficult to measure the long-term durability of such cohort building activities, as an outside observer, I am confident that these events helped us begin to build a Maxwell Community, which will only be strengthened through the 2014-15 Academic Year.