Short course sessions engage campus community

President Denise Battle’s four schola brevis—or short course—sessions came to a close on Tuesday Sept. 22. Geneseo faculty, staff, administrators and students heard from several members of the college leadership and discussed Geneseo’s position among other SUNY colleges and institutes of higher education as a whole. “My hope is that we’re all gaining something by participating in these sessions,” Battles said.

The session on Monday Sept. 21 focused on how Geneseo has and can continue to promote integrated learning.

Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio presented data from the 2015 SUNY Student Opinion Survey, which was administered in spring 2015. According to the survey, Geneseo ranks fifth out of all SUNY schools in students discussing ideas with faculty outside of class, second in students developing openness to others’ opinions and second in students applying judgments they learn in class to different courses and situations.

“As an institution, we need to decide how our focus should be on integrative learning,” Bonfiglio said.

Senior Rayanne Luke spoke on her integrative learning experiences through the Edgar Fellows Program. Luke worked with a biologist at the cancer research institute at Rutgers University over the summer.

“I think the honors program has done a good job of preparing me for this [internship]. A class called Big Data was my first look into data analysis—which I feel like I’m kind of doing right now with a lot of large images,” Luke said. “Even though I’m a math major, it’s still outside of my comfort zone because I hadn’t done that much coding and it was very applied, so I really appreciated seeing that before going to my research internship.”

At the end of the meeting, the audience was able to engage with the speakers. Interim Assistant Provost Kenneth Kallio provided feedback: “I think that much of the foundation comes from disciplinary studies and without that, integrated learning is not possible,” he said. “Majors are important. Much integrated learning occurs within the discipline.”

“Engaged Geneseo”—which took place on Tuesday Sept. 22—focused on how Geneseo connects with external constituencies on the local, national and international levels.

Bonfiglio began the presentation by describing how Geneseo develops socially responsible students, citing promotions in democratic values, community service, an appreciation for others, student accountability and applying academic knowledge to social issues and problems.

The discussion continued with Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Long, who spoke about Geneseo’s Regional Economic Impact. Long expanded on Geneseo’s participation in the Small Business Development Center. “From 2012-2014 [the Small Business Development Center] has served 216 clients, helped acquire $4.5 million in funding, created 81 jobs and saved 65 jobs,” Long said.

Associate Provost David Gordon spoke about how Geneseo students have participated in national programs such as the Peace Corps. The school is ranked 17th in the nation among medium-sized schools in producing volunteers.

There has also been increased focus on alumni engagement. Great Knight was introduced in April, taking place on the same day as Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement and Talent Day. According to Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Ronna Bosko, 22 simultaneous events happened on Great Knight across the country. “We’re really pleased that we have a new alumni tradition at Geneseo,” Bosco said.

Associate Provost for International Programs Rebecca Lewis elaborated on Geneseo’s many international programs. “Geneseo has the highest study abroad rate in the SUNY institutions,” she said. “This is because of the faculty support. Also, if there are financial considerations, we work hard to overcome those.”

When audience members were encouraged to participate again, Associate Dean of Leadership and Service and Director of the Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development Program Tom Matthews commented on the challenges students face when hoping to engage in the community.

“Living in a rural community restricts our ability to send students out into a lot of civic engagement projects,” Matthews said. “Transportation is a significant problem for us. We have to ask our students to carpool in order to participate in new projects.”

A video recording of each session will soon be offered in the library for students, faculty and staff to view.

Long expressed hope for the future of Geneseo’s integrated and engagement programs. “We’re left with the challenge of looking at our outcomes broadly, talking to our students, our professors and our faculty and trying to articulate what we’re bringing to the community,” she said.