Geneseo promotes liberal arts mission across higher ed

As a public liberal arts college, Geneseo is making strides toward increasing liberal arts education’s profile in the local, statewide, national and international higher education landscapes.

In the local arena, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Long said Geneseo is pushing ahead with community engagement through work with county and community agencies to help improve the quality of life. Citing alumnus Greg O’Connell’s ‘64 revitalization efforts in Mount Morris, Long said the college is playing a significant role in helping to improve the surrounding areas.

“The college as a hub for a small community … I think that’s a very common pattern that you find across the country, for small colleges and large colleges alike,” Long said.

According to Long, Geneseo has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll since its inception.

Statewide, Geneseo is working with the State University of New York as well as other New York institutions of higher education to focus on using technology to foster more collaborative education.

Long has been involved with the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education for almost eight years, and has served on its advisory board for two years.

“NITLE really tries to bring the benefits of that digital technology to smaller campuses and to keep smaller campuses abreast of innovations,” she said, adding that members of the organization “have the notion that, particularly smaller institutions, need to collaborate more effectively than we have in the past … we need to share ideas and resources.”

Long cited the SUNY Language PACT (Pipeline-Access-Culture-Technology) initiative, which she said seeks to foster collaboration between SUNY campuses to make language studies more available. She said initiatives like this one would likely involve courses with both online and offline components.

“I think you can do very good collaborative work with a digital and online component,” Long said, adding that a face-to-face component as well as strong faculty support is necessary for a well-rounded collaborative academic program across multiple campuses.

According to Long, Milne Library is also experimenting with technology through scholarly publishing, the Information Delivery Services Project and the SUNY Open Textbook program.

“We’re beginning to play a leadership role in figuring out how technology enhances liberal arts and that’s a different conversation that you hear in most of the public realm,” Long said.

On a national scale, Long said that Geneseo has worked to increase the role of liberal arts in higher education. Long and President Christopher Dahl are both long-time members of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges, which works to share with the nation what the public liberal arts mission is.

Long said public liberal arts colleges have a “prominent role to play” with a “terrific price point in the market.” Geneseo, she said, offers “an education that isn’t hideously costly, and yet is really high quality.”

“Part of the thing that sustains places like Geneseo is the small size of the campus and the ability of students to play all kinds of leadership roles while they’re here and be well supported in those. It’s a little different than you have in a small group that’s surrounded by a large university,” Long said.

Long cited the current educational system, which she said drives money into university centers rather than to smaller colleges. Geneseo’s proposal for a new Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Leadership – a response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program – is what Long said is the school’s way of looking to create its own hub of innovation.

On an international level, Geneseo is working to increase global education in its students’ lives. According to Long, starting in fall 2013, Geneseo will serve as a part of the American Council on Education Internationalization Laboratory, an 18-month program featuring 10 to 12 schools that helps support self-studies of international programs. ACE will send representatives to Geneseo to help form a team meant to review all international curriculum programs and to raise the level of engagement with other institutions in the program.