Denise A. Battles

Denise A. Battles

Denise A. Battles

President, SUNY Geneseo

Years in current role: 6+

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I am a big believer in the transformative power of higher education: the doors of opportunity are more likely to open to a well-educated individual. My educational journey was shaped by a desire to maximize my options in life, and I delight in having a role that enables me to facilitate similar opportunities for Geneseo students. Perhaps because they bookend our students’ collegiate journey, my two favorite campus events are Move-in Day for our new students and Commencement Day as our newest alumni celebrate their achievements and head off into the world.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented the most significant challenge; I imagine few higher education leaders would respond otherwise. Navigating that public health crisis highlighted for me what a committed, innovative, and resilient campus community we have at Geneseo, from our students to my colleagues. Their dedication and willingness to sacrifice for the greater good are simply remarkable.

What college class that you haven’t taken would you be most interested in taking and why?

I would love to take a course on Egyptology. I developed a deep interest in ancient Egypt as a youth, and that fascination has never left me. I’m endlessly intrigued by the region’s ancient civilizations and its pharaohs, artwork, hieroglyphics, rituals, structures, and other artifacts. The prospect of solving Egypt’s mysteries is tremendously appealing. How were the great pyramids constructed? What led to the death of the teenaged Tutankhamun? This passion for resolving longstanding questions led, naturally enough, to my becoming a geologist who seeks to unravel the Earth’s history. But in an alternate universe, I’m a swashbuckling Egyptologist!