Jan. 13, 2015

Denise A. Battles Named President of SUNY Geneseo

Denise A. Battles

GENESEO, N.Y. -- The State University of New York Board of Trustees today appointed Denise A. Battles, currently provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), as the new president of SUNY Geneseo. Her appointment is effective on or about July 1, 2015.

Battles’ appointment caps a 25-year career as a geologist, professor and higher education administrator that includes positions at the University of Northern Colorado, at Georgia Southern University and at UNCW, where she also holds the rank of professor of geography and geology.

“Dr. Battles comes to SUNY with more than 20 years of leadership experience, and she shares in our strategic goals for increased access, completion and success achieved through innovative partnerships with K-12 and the business community,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “In recent years, Dr. Battles has emerged as a national thought leader for higher education, and I commend the search committee and Board of Trustees for bringing her to the SUNY family. Dr. Battles’ vision and leadership is certain to benefit the SUNY Geneseo community as well as its students, faculty and staff.”

 “I am excited, honored and humbled to be chosen as Geneseo’s president,” said Battles. “Geneseo is a model public liberal arts college on the national stage. There are so many opportunities to promote programs at the core of the institution in the liberal arts and sciences and in the professional schools of business and education, and I look forward to working with all constituencies to provide opportunities for transformational learning for our students. ”

The appointment also marks a return to familiar territory for the Central Square (Oswego County) native and Colgate University alumna. “During my visit in December, there was an undeniable feeling of coming home,” she acknowledged. “It felt very familiar and welcoming.”

Accompanying Battles will be her husband, Dr. Michael Thomas Mills, who currently serves as a faculty member in both the Department of English and the Honors Scholars College at UNCW.

“Dr. Battles brings the experience, skills and confidence to lead Geneseo to new heights of distinction,” said Bob Wayland-Smith, chair of the SUNY Geneseo College Council and the Presidential Search Committee. “We are delighted to welcome her back to her home state and begin a partnership that will not only strengthen our college, but all of New York.”

The Geneseo presidency will be the first for Battles. She succeeds Christopher C. Dahl, who retired in the fall of 2013 after 20 years of service. Battles becomes the third woman appointed to lead Geneseo; Carol C. Harter served from 1989-1995 and later became president of the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.  

Interim President Carol S. Long has led the college since Dahl’s retirement and plans to return to her previous position as provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Prior to UNCW, Battles served as dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences and professor of geology at the University of Northern Colorado. Previously, she served as associate dean of the Allen E. Paulson College of Science and Technology and professor of geology at Georgia Southern. In addition, she served as an American Council on Education Fellow at Auburn University.

Battles earned a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology from Colgate University, where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She has authored numerous publications and currently serves as an editorial board member for the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. She remains actively involved with the American Council on Education, most recently serving as its Fellows Program Placement adviser.

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