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Geneseo President Issues Challenge

President Denise A. Battles, SUNY Geneseo
President Denise A. Battles, SUNY Geneseo

Geneseo State College has installed a new President, Denise A. Battles. "It is with profound gratitude and deep humility that I accept the presidency of this fine institution, SUNY Geneseo."

Battles is a native of Oswego and told her audience that her collection of rocks from the Lake Ontario shore inspired her career in geology. She started her job July first, after a 25 year career that took her to schools in Georgia, Colorado and North Carolina.

In her address, Battles praised a liberal arts education and cited federal labor statistics that people with a bachelor's degree held an average of 11-13 jobs between ages 18-48.

"With such job mobility, an education that is narrowly tailored to a specific job is unlikely to prepare a person for the arc of his or her career."

Battles also pointed to recent studies that more alumni of liberal arts schools say their education prepared them for life.

Battles immediately launched a year of strategic planning to articulate the vision of Geneseo, and how to get there.

" I will tip my hand and share my own concise response to what I would like to see as our vision. And that is to be an exemplar of a public liberal arts college for the 21st century, and widely known as such."

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher asked Battles to share what Geneseo has learned about educational excellence.

"We want to know more about how you have distinguished yourself as a 'Best Undergraduate Teaching' campus, and we want you to show the rest of us how to be the best at undergraduate instruction."

Zimpher praised Battles as a scientist, compassionate, and someone who understands what a liberal education means to students and our country.

Mayor Dick Hatheway welcomed the new president by reminding her that the long summer of construction that disrupted Main Street in the village - began - when she moved here.

"A common expression notes that the road to wherever is paved with good intentions. In our case, the road between 15 Main Street (her home) and Doty Hall was not paved at all."

Hatheway joked that Battles' commute to work was a true adventure in navigation. The construction project took two months longer than planned. He joked that the president has seen "rock bottom" with the excavations on Main Street and the village has “nowhere to go but up.”

Representatives from 36 colleges and universities were among well-wishers in Wadsworth Auditorium.

Chancellor Zimpher paid tribute to retired SUNY Geneseo president Christopher Dahl and interim president Carol Long, saying Battles is “the right choice at right time and in the right place.”

Video of the Installation