First two presidential candidates visit campus, host student, faculty, community forums: Part 1

As part of the ongoing presidential search, college presidential candidate Beth Rushing visited campus to meet with students, faculty and staff. She was the first candidate to visit, doing so on Nov. 13. Rushing began the forum by giving a brief history of her professional and administrative experience, explaining why it makes her the best fit for the presidential position. This experience included her current position as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at St. Mary’s College of Maryland as well as her previous position as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Washington Tacoma.

After validating her expertise with a public honors college, Rushing began to make the comparisons of St. Mary’s to Geneseo. “I have used Geneseo as a model,” she said. “I give credit when it’s due.”

Following her introduction, she opened the floor to students and allowed them to ask her questions.

One student asked, “What would you bring to Geneseo to better prepare students for the real world?”

Rushing explained how graduating from a liberal arts college opens the doors to many opportunities in which students can do nearly anything. “Undergrad is more than learning to make a résumé,” she said. “It is to deeply understand what you can do to contribute to the job market.”

Rushing then proceeded to talk about her passion for volunteer work and service learning.

“Attending college shouldn’t consist of just working and taking classes; it should also consist of contributing to your community,” she said.

Rushing clarified that she wouldn’t make community service a requirement for graduation, but that she would strongly encourage students to step outside of their normative school day and participate in extracurricular activities, internships and volunteer opportunities to better the community.

Other student forum questions ranged from, “What makes you the best fit for this position?” to questions about diversity on campus.

The atmosphere in the room changed when Rushing began to ask students questions to get a better feel about Geneseo. She ended the forum with the question, “If you had one thing to not change in Geneseo, what would it be?”

Answers varied from sustaining student-run organizations to the “homey feeling that Geneseo provides.”

One student elaborated with, “I want Geneseo to look recognizable; it is such a great place and when alumni visit, they [should be able to] recognize the greatness of Geneseo.”

Another student said, “Geneseo does need some changes, but it is special due to the care the professors provide, the small classrooms, the quality of the education and experience the faculty and staff provide.”

The students had some unanswered questions due to limited time, but Rushing ended by saying, “Be proud of where you left. Give back; be active in your community. Although higher education is changing, think about your education as an investment that will be worth it.”