Dr. Amir Rahnamay-Azar
Dr. Amir Rahnamay-Azar began his tenure as Syracuse University’s Senior Vice President for Business, Finance and Administrative Services and Chief Financial Officer on February 15, 2017. In this capacity, he is responsible for overseeing a variety of financial and operational functions including Auxiliary Services, Campus Development and Facilities Operations, Campus Safety and Emergency Management Services, Financial Planning and Resource Management, Internal Audit, and Real Estate and Asset Management.
Since joining Syracuse University, Dr. Rahnamay-Azar has launched an ambitious strategic plan, the Orange Standard, for the Division of Business, Finance and Administrative Services. The plan has five primary goals: to create an unparalleled Syracuse University experience; relentlessly pursue business excellence; passionately lead, engage, and develop employees; empower progress through innovation and entrepreneurship; and promote accountability and organizational effectiveness.
Since announcing the launch of the Orange Standard in October of 2018, a number of key projects have commenced. These projects include a review and evaluation of Syracuse University’s energy assets, enhancements to the university’s enterprise risk management program, advancing a real estate strategy, including the evaluation of student housing, initiatives geared toward improving the campus experience, and an ongoing commitment to strategically stewarding the University’s financial resources. Through the work of the Orange Standard steering committee, each of the noted projects is managed by a project team, a project charter, timeline, and deliverables.
During his time at the university, Dr. Rahnamay-Azar has advanced nearly $300 million in capital projects supporting the Campus Framework Plan, also known as the institutional master plan. Four major capital projects have been approved by the Board of Trustees in the last three years and are in various stages of progress. First to break ground was the $62.5 million National Veterans Resource Center, a 115,000-square foot facility dedicated to advancing the social, economic, and wellness concerns of the nation’s veterans and military-connected families. The Barnes Center at the Arch renovations have created a 180,000-square foot hub for student health and wellness. With a total project cost of $67 million, the Arch project opened its doors in fall 2019. The third capital project to advance is the Stadium project. Renovations to Syracuse University’s on-campus stadium will include a new fixed roof, state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, and improved accessibility capabilities, among other improvements. The transformation of the Schine Student Center into a true student union was approved by the board in November 2018. The $30 million, 70,000-square foot renovation, completed in January 2021, opened up the facility and connected a new dining experience to integrated cultural centers and enhanced student lounge and organization spaces.
Dr. Rahnamay-Azar also played a key role in the $100 million Invest Syracuse initiative. The effort, advancing the ideas set forth in the academic strategic plan, aims to expand opportunity to students of promise and talent from across the socioeconomic spectrum; enhance their experience by strengthening advising, internships, and study abroad; and invest in faculty and research priorities. In order to accomplish these goals, administrative spending is being reduced by $30 million over five years, and $30 million is being raised by re-basing tuition in line with Syracuse University’s peer institutions. Additionally, a fundraising goal of $40 million was set to support scholarships for high-achieving prospective students interested in pursuing a Syracuse University education. Under Dr. Rahnamay-Azar’s leadership, the Division of Business, Finance and Administrative Services collaborated with units across campus to identify cost savings and to rebase tuition to keep the initiative’s goal on schedule.
Collaboration with other campus leaders to advance a number of key programs has been an essential part of Dr. Rahnamay-Azar’s tenure. Improving campus access for all and enhancing the living and learning experience for students is a University priority. His cooperation with the Office of Community Engagement led to the University’s first-ever procurement fair in May 2019, an effort to connect the University’s purchasing and procurement with women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses in the Syracuse and Onondaga County communities.
Prior to his time at Syracuse, Dr. Rahnamay-Azar served as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Carnegie Mellon University from 2013-16, and as Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance at Georgia Institute of Technology from 2010-13. Before joining Georgia Tech, Dr. Rahnamay-Azar spent more than a decade working in a number of leadership and financial positions at the University of Southern California, culminating in his final role as Associate Senior Vice President for Operations.
Dr. Rahnamay-Azar earned a doctorate in higher education management at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA and bachelor’s degree in strategic management at California State University in Sacramento.