Presidential café focuses solely on student input

Interim President Carol Long held a World Café on Wednesday  April 23 especially for students as part of Geneseo’s efforts to find a new president after President Christopher Dahl retired this past October. Student Association President senior Katie Becker moderated the event. Approximately 25 students attended and each table of students was given a notepad, pens, colored markers and large sheets of paper. Students were then faced with questions and given 20 minutes to answer amongst the table and were encouraged to draw and take notes on the paper if necessary.

After the 20-minute discussion, the “harvesting of ideas” occurred. Each table went one by one and shared their answers to each question. Becker recorded these answers on the whiteboard while Long observed and occasionally took notes as well.

Each table assigned a host who was responsible for recording and sharing the ideas of the group for each question. After each question, all the members of the table moved to a different table except for the host who remained at their original table.

Questions included “Where and in what ways do you think Geneseo can and should aim higher, and what qualities or capacities in our next president do you think would help us do so?” Students suggested multiple study days, an awareness of student reality, increased diversity and internationalization, cohesion between faculty, staff and students and someone who is approachable and appreciates the difference and uniqueness of Geneseo, amongst numerous other suggestions.

Another question presented five skills important for leadership – collaborative mindset, team development, tech savvy, globally focused and culturally attuned and future-focused – and asked, “Which of these do you think are important for the next President of Geneseo, and why? In what ways can these be applied at Geneseo?” Students generally seemed to find all of these aspects important in a future Geneseo president.

Those in attendance actively participated in discussion. “I thought the World Café was a really interesting way to get student input on what we as a student body would like to see in a new president,” sophomore Beth Schroeder said.

Long, while not an active participant, was impressed with the student involvement and discussion.

“I was honored to be included as a listener in the student World Café concerning the qualities students would like to see in the next President of Geneseo. Many thanks to Katie Becker for so ably hosting the discussion, and to all students for their candid and thoughtful comments on the Presidency,” Long said.

“As usual, I was impressed with the care and understanding demonstrated by the group and by the dedication to fairness, diversity and academic excellence shown by Geneseo students. I am confident we will attract a President worthy of this student body,” she said.

Becker also shared Long’s positive sentiments: “I was very pleased by the turnout and I think very thoughtful discussion occurred at the event. I hope this is just the beginning of a year of students having conversations over what we want in the future president of Geneseo, and for the future of our college.”