Provost, VP for Academic Affairs, St. John Fisher College
Years in current role: 5
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Enjoyment comes from completing projects that improve educational outcomes for students and that impact their lives in positive ways. Supporting faculty and staff, creating new programs and hiring new people, renewing curriculum, and working with community and business partners are all ways we enhance educational experiences. The work is complex as there are always many steps to every project and various factors to balance, but remembering why one does what one does provides the motivation to keep at it. Higher education is a unique site where lives can indeed be changed, and I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to serve in my current role.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?
The biggest challenge was maintaining perspective when there were so many competing demands, so many people working so hard, and so little time to recognize those efforts on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis. We were up against it every day trying to stay out in front of the virus and maintaining our commitment to our students. Faculty and staff were continuously challenged, and we confronted a furious pace while going above and beyond almost every day. We did it by remembering what we believe in and making decisions based on our values, but it was a challenge. I am deeply grateful for the commitment and dedication of so many here at Fisher.
What community organizations do you support as a volunteer and why?
Throughout my career, two constants have been commitments to urban education and to community engagement. Here, in Rochester, I serve on the Board of the Academy of Health Sciences, a charter school committed to improving educational and career outcomes for urban students, and by personally representing Fisher (along with our education dean) on Roc the Future, Rochester’s Strive initiative to do the same. My community engagement extends to the Board of Connected Communities, where I serve as vice chair. Connected Communities is a local organization serving the Emma Beechwood neighborhoods, and with which Fisher has an ongoing partnership. True partnerships between higher education and community institutions strengthen and enrich the opportunities we can provide for our constituents.
What college class that you haven’t taken would you be most interested in taking and why?
Journalism and Democracy: The essential role journalism plays in preserving a functioning democracy. I would love to take this class, and I would like everyone to take it with me. Our society has forgotten, it seems to me, why our founding fathers placed Freedom of the Press into the Bill of Rights. They were keenly aware of the dangers of authoritarianism and sought to deflect its rise with a commitment to people’s access to facts and reliable information. Further grounding in this history would benefit many.