Mar. 19, 2013

President Dahl announces retirement


President Christopher C. Dahl shares news on March 14 with faculty and staff that he will be retiring in 2014. Dahl has led Geneseo for 18 years. /PHOTO BY KEITH WALTERS '11







At the all-college meeting March 14, President Christopher C. Dahl announced that he will retire as president of Geneseo effective June 30, 2014. After the announcement, faculty, staff and students in attendance gave him a standing ovation.

Dahl will begin a nine-month sabbatical Oct. 1, 2013, after serving more than 18 years as president during a period of unprecedented growth. He has recommended that Provost Carol Long be appointed interim president at that time. She has worked closely with Dahl and senior colleagues in advancing a number of academic and administrative initiatives.

"With her deep understanding of 21st-century liberal education, not only will Carol do a splendid job in carrying out our academic mission, she also will be able to advance the college in a number of areas during the interim period," said Dahl.

The president, also a professor of English at Geneseo, will continue to support college administrators during his sabbatical to assure a smooth transition during the presidential search, especially in the areas of advancement and alumni relations.

"This is an appropriate time for transition to new leadership," Dahl said at the meeting. "Serving you as president is the greatest privilege of my professional and personal life. Almost every day since my arrival in 1994, I have been inspired by our students, our faculty and staff, and our friends in the wider community. I have been blessed with superb colleagues in the senior administration. I am deeply grateful."

Dahl became president in February 1996, after serving eight months as interim president. Before that, he served one year as provost. Currently, he is the longest-serving president among SUNY's four-year campuses.

Under Dahl's leadership, Geneseo has achieved distinction in a number of areas and has become one of the leading public undergraduate colleges in the nation. His focus has centered on increasing the quality rather than the size of the college, resulting in a variety of milestone accomplishments:

  • The number of academically talented students has increased. The average combined mean SAT score of incoming freshmen rose from 1211 in 1996 to 1333 in 2012.
  • The college was granted a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 2004, one of only 280 American colleges and universities with a chapter and the only one at a public undergraduate college in New York.
  • The number of students attending graduate or professional school immediately after graduating has increased from about 30 percent in 1996 to more than 40 percent today.
  • Geneseo students who are African-American, Latino, Asian or Native American (ALANA) now comprise 25 percent of the student body, more than double the percentage from 1996.
  • Service and service learning programs have grown, helping the college to earn a place on the President's National Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll every year since its inception in 2006.
  • Geneseo has completed or is in the midst of numerous capital construction projects, including the Integrated Science Center dedicated in 2006. Current projects include a new college stadium; renovation of Bailey Hall to house social science departments; and the transformation of Doty Hall to become the college's new "front door" to house admissions, college advancement and administrative offices.
  • The college has garnered consistently high rankings as one of the best public colleges in the nation.
  • The president has overseen a successful "Shaping Lives of Purpose" capital campaign, which is within $1 million of reaching its $22 million goal.

In his retirement, Dahl plans to return to research and writing.

"My 24 years in senior administration have not allowed enough time for me to fully pursue these activities, " he said. "Several scholarly projects call for my attention — including a series of essays on the meaning of the liberal arts in the public sector."