Students offer feedback at provost open forums

Geneseo held multiple student forums for the three remaining provost candidates. The college plans to make a final decision on the candidates mid-spring. Pictured above is provost candidate Adrienne McCormick. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

Geneseo held open forums as part of its search for the new provost and vice president of academic affairs, providing students and faculty with the opportunity to learn more about the candidates and to ask questions. 

The search committee plans to decide who will fill the provost position mid-spring, according to the Geneseo website.

The first of three provost candidates was SUNY Oswego’s Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Adrienne McCormick. McCormick spoke of her credentials in the “digital humanities,” of her interest in helping the roll-out of Geneseo Learning Outcomes for Baccalaureate Education and her experience working in the SUNY system for 19 years during the forum held on Feb. 3 in the Doty Recital Hall. 

After McCormick’s presentation of her credentials, attendees asked the candidate various questions. Professor of theater and dance Randy Kaplan commented that McCormick did not devote a lot of time in her presentation to the arts and asked McCormick about her opinion on the role of theater, dance, art history, music and studio art on campus. 

“I think the performing arts play a vital role in the community throughout our institutions in SUNY,” McCormick said. “We have to always look at the role of arts in terms of service to the campus community and also the broader community as well. There are a lot of interdisciplinary collaborations in the arts.” 

Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Central Washington University Stacey Robertson was the second provost candidate and also participated in multiple open forums. Robertson received her PhD in history from the University of California at Santa Barbara and received her bachelor’s degree in history from Whittier College—a small liberal arts school in California.

“I saw my education—in particular, my liberal arts education—as deeply connected to who I was as a human being and also to the success I had in life,” Robertson said at the student forum on Feb. 6.

Robertson said that she is interested in filling the provost position at Geneseo because she admires that Geneseo produces socially aware and responsible graduates and also because she believes that Geneseo’s values reflect her own. Robertson commented that she would like to ensure that Geneseo remains a student-centered institution in the future.

Since Robertson has not previously worked in the SUNY system, Student Association President senior Michael Baranowski posed the question, “Would you be able to tell us what you know about the SUNY system and how you think you can fit into the role?”

To answer this question, Robertson drew upon her experiences from working at CWU, also a publicly funded institution. 

“Washington State’s public regionals are all independent—they’re not all connected to one another, it’s a different system,” she said. “The SUNY system is more unified, and I think it would be a really great next challenge … I’m very sensitive to the political changes that may affect funding and accreditation, and I think it’s very beneficial to have an outsider come in with fresh eyes.”

SUNY Plattsburgh Dean of Arts and Sciences and professor of anthropology Andrew Buckser spoke at the open student forum on Tuesday Feb. 14 about his credentials and why his experience qualifies him to fill the provost position. 

With a focus on religious and cultural anthropology, Buckser received his PhD from the University of Berkeley in 1993. He spoke about his extensive involvement in the advancement of research, specifically referring to his research on Northern Europe and the Jewish community in Copenhagen. 

Buckser also said that the depopulation of upstate New York has caused Geneseo to attract students from areas further away, such as Long Island, downstate areas and towns near Albany, which can present its own challenges. 

“That’s a different cultural mix and it presents challenges not only for the mix on campus, but also the way that the students interact or feel welcome in the larger, very rural climate of the north country,” Buckser said. “And so, I think that some of those issues are issues at Geneseo, and I suspect that would be something that my experience in Plattsburgh would carry over.”

Baranowski believes that these open forums provide students with a valuable opportunity to provide their input when the college hires new faculty members.

“The forums are really important—especially for students—and I like to see students there because it gives them a chance to voice their opinion and to learn about the second ranking officer at the college,” Baranowski said. “It shows that the school is invested in students’ education and that the college wants feedback from students in the future.”

Assistant news editor Zainab Tahir contributed reporting to this article. Assistant news editor Mike Powers, and news editor Annie Renaud also contributed to this article.