Central New York, Community, Education, International, Syracuse

Slutzker Center Interim Director Offers Help for International Students

George Athanas in his office at Slutzker Center (c) 2018 Jose Lara

Click the play button above to hear Slutzker Center Interim Director George Athanas

Audio transcript: George Athanas

By Jose Lara SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) –The Slutzker Center has been making Syracuse University international students’ lives easier for more than 50 years. The staff helps international students with different programs, resolving visa related questions, academic and social concerns, and doing everything in their power to help international students succeed throughout their studies.

For more than 30 years, the Slutzker Center was directed by Patricia Burak, until this summer when she decided to leave the position to chase the opportunity to be a full-time teacher in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience named George Athanas as interim director.

“It has been a steep learning curve,” Athanas said when talking about his first month on the job. “I had no idea of the depth of which the office is involved and how much they have helped international students.”

Athanas has worked at Syracuse University for more than 14 years, including 12 years in the Office of Residence Life (ORL). During those years he helped many students around the university.

“I worked with students all the time dealing with home sickness, kind of their academic transitions, roommates conflict resolution, so a lot of that carries to the role,” Athanas said when asked about the relationship between his current role and his previous one. “Now it’s about a specific population of international students, as supposed to residential students, which international students are part of.”

According to Athanas the university is still looking for the official Slutzker Center director, and he will serve as interim director for the rest of 2018. But that has not stopped him from thinking of different ways to help international students.

“We would like to help students feel welcome, providing space for a voice that can be heard. My hope is that we can be a first step in that process here at the Slutzker Center.”