President, SUNY Brockport
Years in current role: 7
What was your biggest success in 2021?
Keeping our campus open during the height of the pandemic and ensuring that, as far as possible, we offered our students a return to regular activities. Our students were amazing: they wore masks, tested weekly, and accepted the additional requirements we put on them in order to protect public health. It was fantastic to see how creative they could be in putting on virtual theatre productions, or in going online to keep their clubs or organizations vibrant. Our faculty were flexible and responsive, our professional staff met the needs of our students in a hybrid fashion, and our essential workers maintained our campus at a time when others were learning how to work productively remotely. We learned a lot during the year and continue to put into practice new ways of doing things.
What are your expectations for 2022?
I expect that we will continue to have to exercise flexibility in the face of changing information. I hope that we will reach the stage that COVID-19 doesn’t rule every decision, but rather just becomes one of many factors we take into consideration as we plan for the future. We are hoping to resume more campus events for faculty, staff and students, host more community events, and re-establish the relationships that help our college thrive. Our college vision is centered on building meaningful lives and vibrant communities, and I think you’ll see a redoubling of collective efforts in that area.
What is your biggest takeaway from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
The most important thing we can do for each other is to give each other grace. There are definitely unequal impacts of COVID-19, and yet almost everyone—including me—has lost someone to this pandemic. It has changed our world, and we have to understand that not everyone has the same resources to overcome all that has happened. So practicing kindness needs to remain a priority.
What is your favorite thing about the Rochester community?
We’re a small city with big city attributes: great colleges and universities, great health care systems, fantastic theatre and music venues and an excellent array of restaurants. There’s something for everyone in Rochester.
If time were no issue, what would you do to help the community that you aren’t already doing?
I’d love to combine my passions for creativity and education, perhaps through volunteer reading for children, or adults in congregate living settings? What would be really fun would be to put on a play, and help young people engage their creativity and tell their stories.