First two presidential candidates visit campus, host student, faculty, community forums: Part 2

In continuation with the search for the next college president, Geneseo invited college presidential candidate Nancy Gutierrez to speak on Tuesday Nov. 18 to a room consisting of approximately 30 students and faculty members. The forum was scheduled to begin with Gutierrez introducing herself to the audience, similarly to how the presidential candidate Beth Rushing’s forum began. Instead, Gutierrez went around the room asking each student their name, major and class year prior to talking about herself.

Currently the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she has also served as Vice Provost of Academic Affairs at Arizona State University where she was both a professor and Chair of the English department and Dean for Academic Personnel.

“I am very firmly committed to education in the liberal arts and sciences,” Gutierrez said. “I believe that it is the most important education that an individual can receive. It is the basis for living a purposeful life, and I just don’t mean a good career––I mean a life where you leave Geneseo and you actually like to learn and you will continue to learn and you will have fun doing that.”

Following her introduction, she opened the floor up for questions. Students in attendance asked her numerous questions on a variety of topics, including diversity, Gutierrez’s reasoning behind applying for the job, fundraising, arts programs and more.

Gutierrez answered every question asked, and was honest in admitting when she didn’t yet have enough information to properly answer a question.

“Coming here, you have to be really careful when you come in as a leader on campus,” she said. “The first thing you should do is nothing; just listen.”

She explained that listening to the campus, both faculty and students, allows her to get a feel of the culture and understand our history and traditions. By doing this, she can then gauge how to best begin eliminating some of the challenges Geneseo currently has. While she deemed this as an important part of the presidency, she also sees learning the culture as her greatest challenge.

“You don’t make changes right away, you really listen and you really learn,” Gutierrez said. “The problem with that is you’re not doing anything right away. The challenge is to alert the community that you’re not just sitting in your house twiddling your thumbs, you really are just immersing yourself in what everybody knows. When you come out of that, you are going to be working with the community to advance the institution and to write a vision.”

She mentioned that if chosen as president, she would like to see an increase of internship opportunities for students as well as increase the amount of fundraising money students receive.

With 10 minutes left in the hour-long forum, students were asked to stop questioning Gutierrez so that she could question the audience. She asked a handful of questions, including “What is the best thing about Geneseo?” and “What would you change about Geneseo?”

As students responded to these questions, Gutierrez opened her bag and withdrew her notepad, diligently taking notes of the answers to each question.