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Business dean dismissed at SUNY Geneseo

According to faculty and alumni sources, the dean of the business school at the State University College at Geneseo has been removed from her administrative position by college President Denise A. Battles.

Rotondo (Credit: SUNY Geneseo)
Rotondo (Credit: SUNY Geneseo)

Neither Denise Rotondo, who has been dean at the business school since 2014, nor Battles, who came to Geneseo in 2015, were immediately available for comment. Apparently Rotondo is continuing on as a member of the faculty, but the specifics of that position were unavailable. A college spokesman said the administration plans to announce the change soon to the business school’s faculty and staff.

News has been circulating by email among faculty and alumni for several days, though, and that was met by shock.

“Two words: Surprise and disappointment,” said John Olert, an alumnus who lives in Somers, Westchester County, and has been a member of the school’s Business Advisory Council since 2010.  “I don’t understand how this was a good decision for the university or the business school.”

“This was a serious mistake on the part of our president,” said Harry Howe, an accounting professor who has been at SUNY Geneseo for 23 years. Howe said he believed the decision was based upon a misunderstanding on the part of the president that he wouldn’t detail. He ruled out, however, any financial and moral wrongdoing.

Rotondo “has been an enormous force for good in the school of business,” Howe said. “She has been absolutely galvanizing in terms of motivating faculty. She has been a real leader in developing our finance program.”

Olert said as a member of the college’s Business Advisory Council, he has met with Rotondo several times, most recently in October when he visited to offer career advice to current students.

“I think Denise was a breath of fresh air,” Olert said of the dean. She introduced a lot of initiatives, acted with transparency, and engaged alumni more than previous deans, he said.

Olert said his “having been somebody who worked for a company for a long time, who has actually hired undergraduates, that connection is really important.” He said he intends to withhold financial support for the college until he hears a rationale for the dismissal.

Howe said in comparable personnel shifts on campus “an awful lot of care was given to consultation with stakeholders.” In this case, he said, the action taken on Jan. 3 “has come as a complete shock for virtually anybody.”

“We are right in the middle of the calendar. We are days away from a thousand students showing up for spring classes. We are in the middle of many initiatives and plans for the school year and suddenly are leaderless,” Howe said.

During Rotondo’s tenure at Geneseo, she oversaw re-accreditation of the business school and the creation of a trading room for finance students.

Before coming to Geneseo, Rotondo worked as dean of business at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., where she also held the academic title of professor of management.

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