College presidential candidate George Shields visited Geneseo on Nov. 20 to discuss his background with students and address possible issues his audience may have.
After growing up in Marcellus, New York, Shields attended the Georgia Institute of Technology to receive his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. He then furthered his education by receiving a post doctorate from Yale University.
Currently the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Bucknell University, Shields has a long list of past positions in collegiate administration. His work with undergraduates extends from Lake Forest College to Hamilton College and beyond, landing him his current position at Bucknell University.
“I can’t think of anything more important than working with college students,” Shields said. “I want to work with undergraduates.”
The first question centered on how, as president, Shields would seek to address budget cuts. He stressed that public liberal arts colleges must raise the money that private colleges are getting from alumni.
“As president, I would lobby for Geneseo, encouraging participation and fundraising,” he said. “It must be kept as a crown jewel.”
As for academia, Shields is a big supporter of the arts and humanities. Despite his title as a chemist and his background in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, he emphasized his support for a holistic approach to education, stating that a liberal arts education is the best education that helps students to learn to truly think.
He also stressed the importance of interdepartmental interactions.
“Building a community with the students and faculty is vital for the health of the institution,” he said.
As president, Shields noted that he would like to play an active role in this community, with plans to provide office hours open to students.
Size was also mentioned briefly, to which Shields responded that he believed the relatively small classes are beneficial to Geneseo’s learning community. “Small is beautiful,” he said. “I like that it is so selective.”
Students continued to ask questions regarding popular issues across campus, including further attempts to make the campus more eco-friendly. “I’d like to have and support a sustainable college model,” Shields said.
As for hot topics like medical amnesty, Shields gave his full support, although he acknowledged the problem of binge drinking in current college culture.
“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of students,” he said. “But if they are being destructive, you must sit down with them and have a conversation.”
As for other issues, the open door policy he hopes to install if elected president would allow students to come forward and speak their problems directly with him.
“My goal would be to solve problems,” he said. “I want to make the degree have a higher quality in the future.”
College presidential candidate Dawn Dekle spoke to a room full of students about her possible future as a leader at this university on Wednesday Dec. 3 in the MacVittie College Union.
Dekle comes from the presidential position at the American University of Iraq. Her credentials also include serving as provost at the American University of Afghanistan, dean of the S P Jain School of Management in Singapore as well as holding faculty positions at The National University of Singapore, James Madison University and Dartmouth College.
After planning to return to America, Dekle’s interest in small liberal public colleges brought her to Geneseo.
“Your school has captured my attention,” she said. “When I think of returning to the United States, I imagine a place like Geneseo.”
Dekle answered student questions that varied from academia to extracurricular, giving her opinions and ideas to support programs and combat problems.
Although she has many plans, one key priority is college publicity. Dekle used the term “Facebook force” to describe the use of social media to boost the knowledge of Geneseo as a university. She advised students to use this a platform to advertise activity on campus. She also noted that she has plans to travel with administration and professors in order to meet and promote the college.
“We can build the brand with our alumni as well,” she said. “Post-graduate engagements are essential in our publicity.”
Furthering this idea, Dekle emphasized the importance of pursuing global attention, therefore further globalizing the campus.
“I want other schools to come to Geneseo to learn how to run things,” she said.
Dekle also stressed the idea of maintaining a focus on a liberal arts education with an emphasis on both humanities and work within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Students showed concern about the cuts made to the Geneseo art department, which Dekle noted as an issue she would be willing to address.
Dekle showed admiration for Geneseo professors, who she said actively teach classes instead of leaving the brunt of the work to teacher assistants.
“There are so many schools at which you do not see the actual professor until senior classes,” she said. “You do not know how lucky you are.”
As for diversity, Dekle revealed hopes for a campus accepting of all people, including those in the LGBTQ-plus community and those of racial and religious minorities. She noted that she fully supports the addition of a full-time LGBTQ-plus counselor in the administration and wants to encourage open conversations regarding diversity on campus.
“Everyone must feel included,” she said.
The topic of budget cuts left her with the response “do more with less” and the desire to find the revenue to combat the decrease in budget.
If elected, Dekle said that she would spend her first few weeks getting to know the students and reviewing things like maintenance and safety procedures. She would also listen for complaints she could fix as the leader of the college––especially those from students, who she claims are “what it’s all about.”
“I what to pick up the patterns here at Geneseo,” she said. “Mostly, I want to add value wherever I can.”