After serving as president since July 1, Denise Battles was formally inaugurated as the 13th president of Geneseo on Thursday Oct. 22. The inauguration ceremony was the culmination of a week of inaugural events, including One G.R.E.A.T. Hour, the College Stadium ribbon-cutting ceremony, a Geneseo CARES service event and a Speakers’ Corner event to highlight faculty research.
Battles described the week as “a series of events that really did highlight the college and its people.”
The ceremony opened with a procession of faculty led by distinguished service professor of economics Daniel Strang. Following was an introduction by master of ceremony A. Gidget Hopf ’72, who served on the presidential search committee and as a college council member.
Other speakers included Student Association President senior Andrew Hayes, College Senate chair and associate physics professor James McLean and other campus representatives who voiced their support and faith in Battles.
“Know that we are behind you every step of the way and that we trust to follow you into an ever brighter future,” Hayes said during his inauguration speech.
“The people that participated up on that stage represent many—although I will say not all—members of our core constituents and so hearing from our students, representatives of our faculty, our staff, organized labor, alumni, the community … all those that were represented there were there because they are some of the folks that were most important to the college and represent constituents who are critical to where we are today, but also where we move forward and how we build on our success,” Battles said.
“I was absolutely thrilled that we had those representatives there and that they articulated such positive comments about the campus,” she later added.
The inauguration also included two musical interludes done by Korye Geneseo—a Ghanaian dance and drum ensemble—and the Geneseo Chamber Singers.
State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher introduced Battles. “Denise A. Battles is the right person at the right time and certainly at the right place,” she said.
A scientist who received her doctorate in geology, Battles focused most of her inaugural speech on the importance of the liberal arts.
“To me, a public liberal arts college model represents the enviable intersection of the best of what I experienced as an undergraduate geology major at a small private liberal arts institution and as a graduate student at a large public research university,” Battles said.
She also focused on the problems and questions facing both liberal arts and public institutions, including rising tuition costs, increasing and promoting diversity, modernizing while maintaining some traditions and increasing recognition of the institution’s students and successes.
“[These questions] represented some of the key themes and issues that I think we as a college—and more broadly, we in higher education—need to be asking and answering as we go forward,” Battles said.
Battles, however, maintained that this inauguration was not about herself assuming the presidency, but about the successes and future of Geneseo as a whole.
“I believe an inauguration should be a celebration of the institution, not the individual,” she said.