Four years ago, the college launched "Real World Geneseo: A Model for Building Cultural Competency" to create dialogue among students and encourage cross-cultural understanding.
Fatima Johnson, coordinator of multi-cultural programs, and Susan Norman, director of the the college's Xerox Center for Multicultural Teacher Education, heard students ask for more opportunity to interact across cultures and created the program, modeling it after MTV's "Real World" reality series.
This year, the program helped Geneseo receive the bronze NASPA Excellence Award for 2013 for programs that are aimed at cultivating culturally competent students. The Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education selected Geneseo in its category that recognizes colleges that transform higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services and effective administration in the international, multicultural, cultural, gender, LGBTQ, spirituality, disability and related category.
"The excellence awards embody the overarching goals set for by NASPA: to lead in the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession," said NASPA President Kevin Kruger. "We are proud to promote the innovative work taking place at SUNY Geneseo and encourage institutions to follow suit and join the movement."
Robert Bonfiglio, vice president for student and campus life, said the coordinators built an outcome assessment instrument into the program, and after three iterations, they found significant increases in cultural competency, comfort with diversity and likelihood of engaging in behaviors such as challenging culturally derogatory remarks and educating others on social issues. In addition, "Real World Geneseo" was one of the four recipients last fall of the SUNY Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers Outstanding Program Award.