Alumna discusses education, fellowship

On Wednesday Feb. 15, Geneseo alumna Anne Clark Bartlett delivered the Phi Beta Kappa lecture titled “Thirty Years of ‘Hard Times’: ASometimes-Dickensian Journey from University Student to Administrator and Back Again.”

Bartlett’s lecture highlighted her life-long educational experience from a child in primary school to a professor at DePaul University and back again to her present fellowship.

Bartlett earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Geneseo in 1987 and went on to complete her doctorate at the University of Iowa in 1993. She was offered a position at DePaul University where she later became a full-time English professor, as well as faculty council president and English chair. Currently, Bartlett is an American Council on Education fellow, an honor in higher education scholarship.

The fellowship requires Bartlett to take part in a placement project, whereby she picks a higher-level institution to conduct academic research based around administrative policies. Bartlett’s first choice was Geneseo, where she said she wanted to examine the progress of the college over the past 20 years into the “Ivy of the [State University of New York] system.”

Bartlett was instead placed at Portland State University, where the large urban university has grown both in size and in selectivity. After completion of the fellowship, Bartlett will be able to take a position of higher administrative power, such as provost or president.

Bartlett discussed her fellowship, which involves researching and learning how to advance in higher-level administration. She compared the overwhelming aspect of the fellowship to “drinking from a fire hose.”

She has since partaken in research concerning strategic enrollment management based on advanced data driven technology, managing demographics and determining how to maximize resources while balancing student population. She has piloted a campus-wide assessment of junior and senior writing samples in order to evaluate writing competency and established a working group after compromising with her superiors.

Bartlett said that in her youth, she was turned off by school due to the metaphorical box she felt constrained by as a result of the educational system of the time. She attributes three main “saves” to her continued education: her mother’s acquisition of an encyclopedia set, her parents’ stringent rules on television exposure and the Washington Township Public Library where she often checked out the maximum 12 books at a time.

After graduating from a vocational track in radio journalism, Bartlett entered a two-year religious college where she says she had her first positive educational experience.

Bartlett transferred to Geneseo her junior year, entered English professor Ron Herzman’s Chaucer course and became enamored with medieval literature along with the “it’s cool to be smart” atmosphere.  She went on to become the first inductee of Geneseo’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Bartlett shared some of her Geneseo experiences, citing English professors Herzman, Julia Walker and Paul Schacht as being particularly influential on her present success. Bartlett said she credits Geneseo for teaching her many of the skills she uses today, including her analytical reading and writing abilities which she said played a pivotal role in her campaign to overturn DePaul University’s faculty tenure appeal process.

“I know times look ugly, but don’t be afraid,” Bartlett advised. “Do your homework and be bold. Fight for what you believe in.”