Influential CAS head to retire

After six years of service, Campus Auxiliary Services Executive Director Ed Abbott has announced his retirement. Abbott has been a driving force in the major reworking of CAS' services over the past six years and will be leaving at the end of the semester.

Abbott spent the majority of his career as the director of Student Auxiliary Services at Brigham Young University in Utah. After officially retiring from that position, the Geneseo CAS board of directors recruited him in a nationwide search to bring financial stability back to CAS. Abbott estimated that today, CAS is in the top five percent of non-profit organizations in New York in terms of financial stability.

CAS Board President Dr. Richard Finkelstein, an English professor, described Abbott's work to get CAS out of debt and pay off its loans as a "big, big change…of real significant consequence," for students and the college.

When Abbott first came to Geneseo, students could only use meal plan points in vending machines and the all-you-can-eat dining halls, and it was difficult to find food on campus after 8 p.m. Since the revamping of the meal plan system, students have been able to spend meal plan points in any of the eight dining centers, several of which are open until midnight or later. Also, the meal plans now work on a declining balance, so students are not losing pre-paid meals if they go home for the weekend, which had been the case in past years.

Abbott emphasized that, "CAS really is a support to the whole college community," and that the organization "tries to support the students in every way we can." Every year, CAS sets aside part of the money it receives for projects such as the remodeling of dining halls. Mary Jemison and Red Jacket have recently undergone renovation and Letchworth will likely be remodeled in the near future. CAS also provides funding for LateKnight programming and sets aside $30,000 for student grants and $10,000 in scholarship money.

CAS makes a sincere effort to remain accountable for students' money, Abbott said. "If we do not need to raise the meal plan [price], we're not going to raise it," he said. He further explained that while many colleges raise meal prices between five and seven percent annually, Geneseo's meal plan prices have, on average, increased only two and a half percent annually in the past six years.

Abbott also was behind the decision that now allows students to use meal plan points at the Big Tree Inn on Main Street.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed working with the students of Geneseo," said Abbott, describing them as "vocal but reasonable." He values, "good corrective criticism," from students regarding CAS services, and cited the comment card system and the CAS Student Advisory Board as methods by which the organization tries to meet the needs of students.

Finkelstein noted that Abbott has been, "very responsive to inputs he gets from students," saying there is "nowhere that [he] hasn't touched with some improvement."

Although Abbott will be entering retirement, he plans to offer consulting services as a way to "help others to be successful."

Abbott's position has been filled by Mark Scott, whose goal is to, "shape CAS services in such a way that they reflect the reputation that SUNY Geneseo has for its high academic quality." Scott officially began his assignment in October.