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College Council December 4, 2020


Via Zoom

December 4, 2020

PRESENT:      Kaitlyn Bertleff, Student Association President

                        Iris Banister

                        Gidget Hopf

            Judith Hunter

Christian Valentino

                        Robert Wayland-Smith, Chair

                        Jill Yonkers                                                                      

STAFF:           Denise Battles, President

                        Julie Buehler, Vice President for Finance and Administration

                        Kerri Howell, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer

                        Wendi Kinney, Senior Associate to the President                 

                        Ellen Leverich, Vice President for College Advancement

                        Christie Reed, Administrative Assistant to the President

                        Stacey Robertson, Provost

                        robbie routenberg, Chief Diversity Officer

                        Amy Sheldon, College Senate Chair

                        Costas Solomou, Vice President for Enrollment Management

Michael Taberski, Vice President for Student and Campus Life

GUESTS:             Nicholas Palumbo, Assistant Dean of Students for Leadership & Service

                             Sydney Krause ’21, Student

                             Rachel Wallisky ’21, Student




Chair Wayland-Smith called the meeting to order at 1:03 p.m.

The minutes of the October 16, 2020 meeting were approved.

Chair Wayland-Smith acknowledged a very successful first Giving Tuesday and invited President Battles to provide an update. The fundraising initiative raised $102,000+, in addition to a match gift of $30,000, for a combined $132,000+, representing 544 donors.


2020 Election and Student Civic Engagement

Nicholas Palumbo, Assistant Dean of Students for Leadership & Service
Sydney Krause ’21, Student Association Director of Student Affairs
Rachel Wallisky ’21, Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere Ambassador & 2020 Newman Civic Fellow

Palumbo, Krause, and Wallisky provided an overview of the various efforts and initiatives aimed at raising awareness across campus on voter engagement. Geneseo has been recognized with the following:

  1. Best Colleges for Student Voting-Washington Monthly
  2. Voter Friendly Campus-NASPA
  3. All In Campus Democracy Challenge ranking “established”

Civic and voter engagement activities included raising awareness of voter registration, participation in local elections, absentee ballot education, engagement with state and federal debates and elections, get out the vote, and election night programming.

Recommendations for the future include:

  1. Integrating voter registration education into orientation
  2. Integrating voter education in residence life programming
  3. Relocating the college polling place to the Union Ballroom
  4. Absentee ballot collection as a standing program in the SA budget

The presenters entertained Q&A from College Council.


Kaitlyn Bertleff offered an update on the work and activities of the Student Association. Voter engagement-SA ticket office involvement with absentee ballots. GCAB has been pleased with high engagement with numerous online events. In-person events also continue and have had high engagement. “See You Later” series distributed 500 care packages to students as they left for Thanksgiving break. DEI updates: planning continues on intercultural dinner, intercultural website was launched, ongoing work on mural project. SA is working collaboratively with Cabinet and CAS on communications, programs, and services. SA is funding transportation services over the semester break to support students who need to remain on campus during this time. Geneseo Speaks “petition” page continues to garner involvement on issues of student interest. SA continues to engage with SUNY System Administration on issues of system-wide importance to SUNY students.


Amy Sheldon shared an update on College Senate activities. Senate has approved the BA in Sustainability Studies. Senate and Cabinet have benefited from a great deal of collaboration and transparency during these challenging times. The DEI Officer role has received final Senate approval. CDWG has presented draft recommendations for revision of the Gen Ed requirements and is soliciting feedback. This is the first time in almost 30 years that a wholesale review of the Gen Ed program has been undertaken. Senate passed a resolution on program alignment and has reviewed proposals for changes of grade appeal guidelines and policies on course observation during the pandemic.


A Pivotal Moment for Geneseo: Navigating Change in Turbulent Times

Denise Battles, President
Julie Buehler ‘89, Vice President for Finance & Administration
Stacey Robertson, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs
Costas Solomou, Vice President for Enrollment Management

Members of the cabinet gave a panel presentation focused on three pivotal moments: enrollment pressures, pandemic response, and unprecedented challenges to the College’s financial sustainability. A discussion of the path forward followed which focused on: Geneseo brand; strategic academic planning; program analysis and alignment; revenue generation and cost containment; and the successor strategic plan. College Council members were encouraged to assist the College in addressing these challenges through ongoing advocacy for the College; increased financial support and promote College giving; and continued support for complex decisions that support a strong and sustainable Geneseo.

The panelists fielded questions and comments from College Council members.

  1. To what extent do we utilize the Women’s Leadership Institute in efforts to recruit women of color to enroll.
  2. We need a quantum leap, not an incremental leap. We need something that is bold thinking. We need to think bigger. We need to identify how we can scale some of the things that are working for us.
  3. We are all working hard for the same pipeline. The urban centers are seeing great challenges in graduating and seeking higher education, amplified by the pandemic, and if we don’t solve this issue we cannot fix the pipeline.
  4. Some of the things that made Geneseo’s profile what it is are the very things that make it more challenging to address these issues.
  5. Agility, entrepreneurial spirit, for SUNY will be the differentiators going forward.
  6. It will take a new way of doing business and a new way of making decisions that is largely inconsistent with Geneseo and higher education generally.
  7. Geneseo can use its programs, not just its academics, to drive interest.
  8. How can Geneseo fill gaps for local, rural, school districts who can no longer afford to offer AP type courses? How can we use athletics and music to attract middle school and high school students to what Geneseo has to offer?
  9. What does the timeline for rolling out new offerings?


Chair Wayland-Smith announced the spring meeting dates as February 26 and April 16. It is critical that Council members have full participation in giving to the Geneseo Foundation. By June 30 (end of the fiscal year) we should strive to have 100% participation by Council. The amount is not as critical as everyone’s participation each fiscal year. VP Leverich will send a timely reminder to each Council member with information on recent giving history.





The meeting adjourned at 3:57p.m.

Denise A. Battles                                                                                Wendi Kinney

President                                                                                             Recording Secretary