Feb. 01, 2012

Shaping Lives of Purpose: Geography department marks 100 percent participation

geography department

Geneseo Foundation funding is vital to field courses and other aspects of the geography major, say faculty members. Geography is the first team of faculty to participate at 100 percent in Shaping Lives of Purpose: The Campaign for Geneseo. Many of the faculty are pictured here. From left to right are: Assistant Professor James Kernan, Assistant Professor Colleen Garrity, Associate Professor Jennifer Rogalsky and Associate Professor and Chair Dave Robertson. /PHOTO BY KEITH WALTERS '11


As Geneseo continues to strengthen its endowment and programs through Shaping Lives of Purpose: The Campaign for Geneseo, the geography department is the first academic department to reach 100 percent participation in the campaign.

"We all decided to contribute as a department," says Associate Professor and Chair David Robertson. "This was a good opportunity to come together and support the Geneseo Foundation because the foundation is vital to our program."

Field study and research is integral for students, which the department could not provide without outside funding, says Robertson. Geography 375 is a four-day field course — and a requirement — for all geography majors. Gifts allow the 20 or so students who take the course each year to participate in the field trip at no extra cost.

In the course, students conduct research and learn in locations throughout the Northeast, including the Thousand Islands this April. Foundation funding pays for travel, accommodation and other expenses, says Robertson. Foundation money is also critical for faculty members to help students present research at conferences, he says.

Such opportunities are invaluable to students, he says, and as faculty members, they want to make sure it remains vibrant. "It enriches our job," says Robertson. "It's the most fun aspect of our job teaching. To keep that going is great for us. We love doing it."

Assistant Professor James Kernan said he was inspired to encourage his colleagues to contribute as a team after attending the faculty and staff launch for the campaign in September. He said he realizes that ongoing budget challenges could challenge his ability to get his students active in the field in as many courses as he can, and that faculty participation in the campaign can directly help this.

"In several ways, field experience and research lie at the core of our disciplinary mission and the preparation of our majors," said Professor Darrell Norris. "As faculty, we geographers understand well how the current campaign is critical to maintaining and augmenting the 'points of difference' between a typically unfunded four-year public college and the special setting that is Geneseo. The faculty, as often the beneficiaries of that difference, share in my view responsibility for making it possible in financial terms. I think we feel proud and honored to be the first fully subscribed program."

Provost Carol Long, in acknowledging the milestone, thanked the geography faculty for their belief in the college's mission.

"Faculty and staff are a continuing and vital part of Shaping Lives of Purpose," she said. "Not only do our contributions directly benefit our students, but our participation also communicates to other donors our dedication to the work of the institution. Thanks to our colleagues in geography and to all who are participating in the campaign."