Geneseo faculty and staff making a difference — past and present

Throughout SUNY Geneseo’s history, professors and staff have taught, challenged, mentored and inspired students in and beyond academics.

On the college’s 150th anniversary, we share reflections of alumni from all eras about just some of the Geneseo faculty and staff members who made a difference. All alumni are invited to submit their thoughts, which will be highlighted online. Submissions will be posted here through June 30, 2022.

David Aagesen, Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies Coordinator

Geneseo faculty since 1998

“I wish I had taken more classes taught by Professor Aagesen. He helped me to realize that life isn’t a straight line, it meanders and you should embrace that. I learned from him to cherish every day, celebrate the small moments in life, and always choose to embark on an adventure. Thank you, professor, you won’t remember me but you changed my life for the better.”

— Amanda Thompson ’15 Paralegal at O’Shea, Marcincuk & Bruyn, LLP in Southampton, N.Y.

William “Bill” Berry, Associate Professor of Speech Communication and Director of Broadcasting

Geneseo faculty 1961–1987

Died 2013 “Bill Berry — for his positive attitude and for taking this shy kid under his wing.”

— Kevin Clary ’79, retired materials compliance specialist at Carestream, Rochester, N.Y.

Isidro Bosch, Professor of Biology

Geneseo faculty since 1992

“I took an aquatic community ecology course with him one summer that changed my life. I later took an invertebrate biology course with him that was fascinating — and I had never had any interest in invertebrates prior to that. I think he’s a great teacher and really enjoys being a biologist and professor. I ended up getting a master’s degree in biology and becoming a wildlife biologist studying sea turtles for years. I am now a biology professor at a community college.”

— Lauren Roberts ‘04 biology instructor at Maricopa Community College in Phoenix, Ariz.

Lawrence Casler, Professor Emeritus of Psychology

Geneseo faculty 1968-1988, died 2006

“He was brilliant and loved taking his classes.”

—Emily Merino ’77, New York City Board of Education, special education resource teacher

William “Bill” Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of History

Geneseo faculty 1970-2012

“Humanities was my first introduction to a world outside of Smalltown, USA. Reading the Bible as literature and learning about other religions, cultures and histories grounded me as a participant in our world and not merely an observer. It is why I became a teacher and a writer. Dr. Cook took an interest in my work my sophomore year, and I would not be who I am today without his earnest commitment to his work, which modeled for me the kind of thinker and, thus, the person I wanted to be. He is an amazing person, and I appreciate him so much.”

— Jonna Shutowick ’88 history teacher at Florida Virtual School and member of the Geneseo Foundation board of directors

Donald DeMott, Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychology

Geneseo faculty 1968-1991

Died 2001 “As a psychology major back in the 1980s, there were not really any places to do internships. Dr. DeMott supported me as my mentor when I did an internship with Planned Parenthood in Batavia. It was a great experience and I appreciated his support.”

— Cindy Gordon Hartson ’82 secondary school counseling coordinator, Methacton School District, Norristown, Penn.

Karen Duffy, Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology Emerita

Geneseo faculty 1973-2000

“Dr. Duffy taught me how to do research. She allowed me to support her research activities, and then she and I attended several professional conferences at which we presented our joint studies on the nature and dynamics of physical attraction. Thanks to her, I went on to earn a doctorate and to become a successful psychologist.”

— Mark Paris ’76, (Master’s degree), Sole Proprietor at Mark Paris, Ph.D., ABPP, consultation work for VA and Social Security Administration in Fairfax Station, VA.

Kenneth Deutsch, Professor of Political Science

Geneseo faculty 1973-2015, died 2015

“Professor Kenneth Deutsch in the late ‘70s. He passed away in 2015. I took constitutional law and one other class with him. He taught us how to be independent and critical thinkers. He held us all to high standards. We worked hard in his classes because he would never settle for less than what we were capable of doing. All these years later, I still think of him and that con law class!

— Gina DeBlase ’80 associate professor of English education and program coordinator, Reading, Language, and Literature, English Education at Wayne State University in Michigan.

Celia Easton, Professor of English and Dean of Academic Planning and Advising

Geneseo faculty since 1984

“She was always a steady and affirming presence. She was always there to support and endorse the residence life staff to think and be more — and to do better and make the world better.”

— Raymond D. FeDora ’10 residence director at SUNY Geneseo

William (Bill) Edgar, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy emeritus

Geneseo faculty 1969-2005, died 2011

“Dr. Bill Edgar for his humor and intelligence.”

—Kevin Clary ’79, retired materials compliance specialist at Carestream, Rochester, NY

Anne F. Eisenberg, Professor of Sociology

Geneseo faculty since 1999

“She pushed me and encouraged me. I studied sociology and wanted to go into higher education for my master’s. Even though she didn’t know a ton about that path, she learned so she could advise me better.”

— Raymond D. FeDora ’10 residence director, SUNY Geneseo

Sarah Frank, Director of Residence Life

Geneseo staff since 2012

“Sarah was a mentor to me and supportive of my goals, especially when she knew I was pursuing a career in student affairs. She pushed me to think about the purpose of the field, and I remember her excitement when I accepted my grad school acceptance at University of Connecticut. I will always be thankful to Sarah for hiring me for my first job as a residence director at Geneseo after I graduated.”

— Nikko Garmendiz ’19 assistant residence hall director, University of Connecticut

Martin L. Fausold, Distinguished Service Professor of History and dean of the social sciences

Geneseo faculty 1958-1992, died 2008

“Martin Fausold was instrumental in my time at Geneseo. I’m a special education teacher who minored in history. Dr. Fausold was the professor who treated us with such respect and shared his love of history. He wrote an amazing book on Herbert Hoover, was an astounding expert on the Wadsworth family, and invited our grad class to his home for our final class. Geneseo was a large college, but Dr. Fausold made my experience personal. Thank you!”

— Jeanne Cerone ’85 educator, Rochester City School District

“Dr. Martin Fausold ….Great teacher and better person.”

— David Obiedzinski ’87 transportation and logistic expert in commercial aviation.

William (Bill) Gohlman, associate professor emeritus of history

Geneseo faculty 1974-2010, died 2012

Amazing history professor! Dr. Gohlman gave me an appreciation for the Islamic religion, which was a blessing after 9-11 and the students in my 7th-grade class in NYC were looking for refuge during lunchtime.”

— Jennifer Holliday ’95, Citibank (former teacher)

Ron Herzman, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of English

Geneseo faculty 1969-2018

“I am sure that I am not the only alum to share that Ron’s kindness, intellectual rigor and penchant for shoeless teaching made an impact on them. I was particularly touched when — after moving to San Francisco post-college and knowing nobody — Ron connected me with his two children who were living in the Bay Area. He remained a touchpoint for me in those few difficult years after Geneseo, offering encouragement and connection when I needed it. While his teaching has been given due credit over the years, it is Ron’s humanity that I wish to celebrate.”

— Jessica Blair ’00 Philanthropy officer for The Nature Conservancy, Minneapolis, Minn.

“As you drift down the river of life you may meet, if you are lucky, a few individuals who have a lingering effect on your course; people, who because of their extraordinary attributes, like intellectual curiosity, genuine good nature, and dedication to others, provide a navigational marker to guide you forward. In Ancient Greece, they were called Great-Souled people — in the Middle Ages, they were Saints. In Geneseo in 1974, they were called Professor. If you were lucky enough to take his courses or fortunate enough to travel with him in Europe, you were changed by the experience. Ron was transformative for his students and for the movement of the college to be a center of excellence in liberal arts education.”

— A. David Scoones ’75 associate vice president, Stifel Financial Corp., Tampa, Fla.

“I feel extremely fortunate that the advisor who helped me sign up for my first classes recommended that I take a class from Ron Herzman. Dr. Herzman made literature come alive with his knowledge, enthusiasm, and infectious sense of humor. He took the work of medieval authors and showed us how to read it so that the distant past became a mirror that reflected the present with astonishing immediacy. Once I began to teach, I realized what magic this was. His teaching transformed us. My first class with Herzman set me on a course to become a medievalist myself, partly to follow the love of reading that Herzman helped ignite, and partly to see if I could convey to my own students the unique joy of this fascination.”

— Anne Clark Bartlett ’87 vice president of academic affairs at Saint Elizabeth University, Tacoma, Wash.

Tze-ki Hon, Professor of History

Geneseo faculty since 1996

“Dr. Tze-ki Hon from the history department was my favorite professor, and I took as many of his classes as I could. His enthusiasm for his subject matter was unmatched, and his lectures were engaging and entertaining. He also did a fantastic job teaching Humanities I, taking an unbiased viewpoint of the texts and guiding students in making connections between them.”

— Randi Hauber ’02

Robert “Bob” Isgro, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Music

Geneseo 1963-1998

“Dr. Robert Isgrow was an excellent choral conductor. He respected all Chamber Singer members as individuals and instilled in each, through disciplined, highly productive rehearsals, the pride in performing in an ensemble of the highest quality.”

— Carolyn Vang Schuler ’72, children services consultant in the Monroe County Library System, New York

Kenneth F. Kinsey, Professor Emeritus of Physics

Geneseo faculty 1966-1998, died 2013

Best physics/astronomy professor memory ever — Dr. Kinsey's electricity and magnetism class back in the late ’70s with about eight students. One student (who shall remain nameless) skipped the test, which was very noticeable given the small class size. When he showed up at the next class, Dr. Kinsey greeted him with, "Mr. …, we missed you at the test." The student apologetically stated, "Sorry, I overslept because I was up all night thinking about Maxwell's equations." Dr. Kinsey, without missing a beat, loudly responded in a way that only he could, "Think of how Maxwell felt." Priceless!

— Jim Forger ’81 director, product line management, Eastman Kodak Co.

Jonette Lancos, Professor of Dance Studies, Academic Coordinator of Dance Studies Program, Artistic Director of Dance Ensemble

Geneseo faculty

“Jonette Lancos ran an intensive and tight-knit dance program while I was in school, and has created multiple meaningful reunions for dance alums in the years since graduation. She has been the ever-present bedrock of the Geneseo Dance Studies program.”

— Anne Irwin Tillinghast ’96 Former assistant director for fitness at Johns Hopkins University

Rong Lin, Associate Professor of Computer Science

Geneseo 1989-2005

Died 2005 “Professor Lin inspired my interest in software development. I have fond memories of programming in his computer labs and learning new languages from him.”

— Michael Simmons ’95 co-founder and CEO at Flexibits

Ray Lougeay, Professor Emeritus of Geography, and Cheryl Lougeay, Lecturer Emerita of Geography

R. Lougeay: Geneseo faculty 1985-2002, C. Lougeay:Geneseo faculty 1986-2003

“Ray and Cheryl Lougeay brought out the best in me in every way. They offered opportunities, such as being their Teacher Assistant and working on their National Science Foundation grant. They took me to Arizona!! They supported me and gave me a rich education. They were a special part of my college life and I will never forget them!”

— Jennifer Springer Grillo ’93,

Michael Lynch, Professor of Psychology

Geneseo faculty since 2000

“Dr. Lynch's courses utterly reshaped the way I think about human psychology. His erudition and respect for his field inspired me to pursue a master's degree in neuroscience and investigate the development of mental illness. I can honestly say I wouldn't be where I am without him.”

— Giancarlo Denaroso ’18 Neuroscience graduate program at the University at Buffalo

"Dr. Lynch advised me to go to graduate school for social work and it has led me down a very unique and interesting path!”

— Stacey Daly ’03 employment counselor at Starbridge

Wayne Mahood, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Education

Geneseo faculty 1969-1994, died 2019

“Dr. Wayne Mahood inspired generations of Geneseo students with his kind, patient, genuinely caring persona. He was a role model, an inspiring professor in the classroom who always made himself accessible to students. He never seemed too busy to have conversations with me, his door was always open, and he never disappointed in providing warmth, understanding and wisdom. Wayne, as I eventually learned to call him over the years, was a good listener and a reliable friend. He kept in touch with so many of us former students, but he made each one of us feel special. When I think of Geneseo, I think of Wayne Mahood.”

— Rob Sheinkopf ’73 retired college admissions director

David Martin, Professor of Economics Emeritus

Geneseo faculty 1969-2014, died 2014

“Dr. Martin was truly an inspirational leader in the School of Business and was able to give me a great appreciation of economic theory and how the global macroeconomic mechanisms work. Through visuals and relevant economic examples, Dr. Martin was able to translate economic theory into real life economic reality.”

— Bob Walley ’83 principal at Deloitte & Touche LLP and member of the Geneseo Foundation board of directors

Tom Matthews, Associate Dean of Leadership and Service Emeritus

Geneseo faculty 1967-2018

“Tom Matthews served as a mentor, advisor and friend to me and so many other alumni during and after our years at Geneseo. In these roles, he encouraged me to develop strong personal and professional skills that enabled me to be successful while working in higher education for over 40 years. Thank you Tom!”

— Dan Neverett ’70 retired vice president for finance and administrative services at Western Nevada College, Carson City, Nev.

Olympia Nicodemi, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita of Mathematics

Geneseo faculty 1981-2020

“I loved Dr. Nicodemi and took several classes with her. She encouraged me to switch to a math major. It was the right decision for me because I ended up teaching AP Calculus BC for over 10 years. Two of the courses I took with Dr. Nicodemi were Calc 1 and Calc 2, which is Calc BC. She took teaching seriously and knew her material. She took the time to get to know her students. I even took the course that she wrote the book for, too! On graduation day, I introduced her to my parents. She made a lasting impression”

— Caroline Dahms Ferron ’90 math specialist with the Alief Hastings Independent School District

“Being a female who enjoyed math was not typical in the late’ 80s/early ’90s while I was growing up. Attending a college with a female mathematics professor who excelled in the field was a new experience. Not only was Dr. Nicodemi a wonderful teacher, she made it a point to stress the various fields you could go into with a mathematics degree besides teaching, which was the default profession for female math majors. Although I ultimately chose teaching math as a profession, I strive to emulate her with my own students. I make sure I show them how math is enjoyable, accessible and useful in so many fields. Furthermore, Dr. Nicodemi, although she probably never realized it, was a role model for me in my personal life as well. Anytime there was drama in college, I could always look to her as a calming presence. Dr. Nicodemi simply exuded learning and wisdom. I remember she as one of my favorite parts of college. She helped shape who I am as a teacher today.

— Jenine Feltman Harris ’95 Seventh Grade math teacher, Elwood Middle School, Greenlawn, N.Y.

“I loved partial differential equations.”

— Carrie Quinton Forsythe ’91 Teacher at Sonora High School in California

Robert O’Donnell, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of Biology

Geneseo faculty 1987-2021

“I met Dr. O’D when selecting courses prior to freshman year. Even though I came from a small school and a small town, he inspired confidence that I could be successful on the bigger stage and in life even though it required self-discipline, self-motivation and focus. Although he might not remember that interaction, I never forgot it. His inspiration and belief in me throughout my time at Geneseo as a bio major set me on the path for a successful future.

— Andrew Sayer ’02 toxicologist at US. Environmental Protection Agency

Robert “Bob” Owens, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Communicative Disorders

Geneseo faculty

“I still refer to his language textbook 30 years later. A is a huge name in the field of speech-language pathology. He remained a friend and mentor to me well past my time at Geneseo. Dr. Bob has touched many lives throughout his career and I feel privileged to be one of them.”

— Candace Brown ’92 speech language pathologist; CB Speech, Candace Brown, Speech and Language, LLC

Gillian Paku, Associate Professor of English

Geneseo faculty since 2008

“She always made me feel better and was so kind to me. She helped in every way possible and she was always willing to bend over backward for me. She never let me down and she always had my back. She inspired me to always try my best and failure was okay. It was the bounce back from that mistake that mattered the most.”

— Katelyn Haefele ’21

Laureen Sherner, Secretary, Career Services

“Laurie worked in career services where I did my work-study assignment. Laurie quickly became my on-campus ‘mother,’ checking in on me frequently to make sure I was doing the right things and treating me with so much kindness. She treated every student like her own child. We still stay in touch to this day and I am grateful for her support and impact on my freshman self! She is a very special part of my Geneseo experience.”

— Gavin Pratt ’00 manager of data analytics and reporting, Global Sourcing & Procurement, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., Buffalo, N.Y.

Herbert Simpson, Professor Emeritus of English

Geneseo faculty 1966-1998

Died 2019 “Herb Simpson for his independence and spirit.”

— Kevin Clary ’79, retired materials compliance specialist at Carestream, Rochester, N.Y.

Gerald S. Smith, Professor Emeritus of English

Geneseo faculty 1958-1983

Died “Dean Smith taught me to be confident in my love of teaching English. He was remarkable.”

— Kimberly Eagen Latko ’92 English teacher at Walt Whitman High School in South Huntington, N.Y., and a freelance writer and poet.

Lytton Smith, Professor of English and creative writing and director of the Center of Integrative Learning

Geneseo faculty since 2014

“Lytton Smith helped me beyond measure through my experience at Geneseo. When I was at a very dark point in my personal life and it was affecting my academics, Lytton showed a level of empathy and understanding that marks a truly great professor and person. Not only did he teach brilliant English courses, he made every single student feel seen and welcome in his classroom. He’s also a great LGBTQ+ ally. Thank you, Lytton!”

— Gab Basile ’18 outdoor educator

Daniel Strang, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics

Geneseo faculty

“Dr. Strang from the college of business, who made me look at statistics in an interesting and unique way, and Dr. Dennis Bradford (Humanities, philosophy) who instilled a lifelong love of literature in me (1980-1984).”

— Marti Heveron Ponton resource operations analyst at Apple Computer Inc.

“Strang was the best teacher Geneseo had while I was there. Knew how to teach application of what you're learning and how it ties into the real world — something the majority of professors at Geneseo failed to do!”

— Zach Cavallini ‘15 sales manager at Coyote Logistics

Chi-Ming Tang, Associate professor of mathematics

Geneseo faculty since 1979

“Professor Tang held after-hours review sessions every week and had the best sense of humor (if you survived the first two weeks of him being intimidating). When I signed up for his class again for calc 3, he knew me enough not to ever accept my tests when I turned them in. He always found a silly mistake (I tended to rush) and made me look it over. He would just shake his head and say ‘you’re so smart, just careless!’”

— Nina Mattison

Julia Walker, Professor of English

Geneseo faculty 1985-2018

Died 2018 “Julia held students to merciless standards of excellence. She was tough but honest, and she managed to be empowering by believing in our potential even when we didn’t do our best work. She was an expert in her field and shared tremendous expertise. She brought people together. Two of my most inspiring friends came from the group she dubbed ‘the 3 Fates.’ She was not a perfect person, and I learned a lot from her example in that regard, too. Dr. Walker will always be one of my most memorable professors.”

— Lauren Walton ’03 learning specialist, college guidance counselor and English teacher

Stephen West P’02, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus/Adjunct Lecturer in Department of Mathematics

Geneseo faculty since 1979

“He believed in me, gave me the confidence to graduate with my math degree. He was by far my favorite professor, followed by Professor Olympia Nicodemi in the math department.”

— Laura Ziegler Gorman ’91,

Michael Woods ’69, Retired Head Cross-country Track Coach

Geneseo coach 1992-2015, died 2021

“He took me under his wing as his student teacher. We went to ‘work’ every morning and then refocused for running in the afternoon for cross-country. I am humbled by his dedication to the success of the holistic student-athlete. I am inspired by his demonstrated enthusiasm to the success of all.”

— Lt. Col. Beth-Anne Canero ’96 U.S. Marine Corps-2nd Lt.