Schacht assumes position as interim provost

Geneseo Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol Long departed from her role as Geneseo’s administrative leader in August to pursue a similar position at Willamette University in Oregon. Paul Schacht will assume the administrative role as interim provost for this year while the college searches to fill the position full-time. Having served as Geneseo’s provost since 2009, Long held multiple leadership positions; she acted as chair of the Strategic Planning Group and served on the Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education.

The provost—also known as the vice president for academic affairs—is the college’s lead academic officer responsible for carrying out the school’s academic vision. According to the Office of the Provost, the provost is also responsible for maintaining Geneseo’s excellence not only in education, but also in a diverse array of topics. In addition, a priority of the provost is to maintain Geneseo’s status as a leading public liberal arts school in the country, President Denise Battles said in a phone interview.

Schacht has been an English professor at Geneseo since 1985. Battles said that Schacht was her top choice for the position during the college’s search—which took place over the summer—due to his expertise and experience.

“He has had a lot of experience as a faculty member, as well as in a variety of administrative appointments, so he has a very well-rounded experience here and he is well known among his colleagues at Geneseo,” Battles said. “Given the task we have ahead of us this year, it is marvelous to have an individual who has that deep knowledge of the campus.”

According to Battles, due to the college’s limited time to search for an interim—about two months—the candidate list was restricted to in-house options.

Schacht has held multiple positions at Geneseo, including chair of the English department, associate dean of the college,  interim dean of the college,  interim associate provost, assistant to the provost for general education and assistant to the provost for assessment.

Schacht said he did not hesitate to seize the administrative opportunity, but he had to think about giving up teaching a new interdisciplinary course—digital methods for humanists—which was designed for multiple majors, including English, history and mathematics.

“Students would take a paper they had previously written and carry it forward into something digital,” Schacht said. “The student could also write a paper, but then do a companion digital project for the paper. I hope to teach it at some point, maybe next year.”

Schacht said that his first week as interim provost has been hectic and that he has had a full plate of work to accomplish. His main focus, however, is to stay on course with the college’s strategic plan. In addition, Schacht hopes to manage the newfound academic programs and to continue the curriculum review process that will engage throughout the year.

“I did not come in with any plans,” Schacht said. “My job is mainly to make sure that the year runs smoothly and to make sure that a variety of initiatives and programs that are already in the works move forward and continue to grow.”

According to Battles, the recruitment for Geneseo’s new full-time provost is in the initial stages. The college is utilizing an outside search firm and searching for applicants on an international level to find the best fit for the school’s vision.

“What we are looking for is the person who is the best for our institution, for where we are at this time, the initiatives we have going forward and for our vision of demonstrating the power of a public liberal arts education,” Battles said.