Cultivating Community

To request a photo please contact Keith Walters at x5870, walters@geneseo.edu

By President Denise A. Battles | Photo by Keith Walters

Fostering inclusivity makes Geneseo stronger and better.

On various occasions, I’ve heard people comment, “There must be something in the water!” to account for the strong sense of place that makes Geneseo so special. It’s almost magical how that feeling of belonging stirs passion among alumni and friends, drawing them close to the Valley across distance and time.

I sensed that magic the first time I visited campus, and three years later, I still feel it when I pass the College Green or cross Main Street near the fountain and Emmeline. That passion is clearly evident in the engagement of volunteers and donors who share their time, talent and resources to support Geneseo out of deep affection for the College.

That’s the power of community.

Yet, it doesn’t happen without hard work and an unceasing commitment to inclusivity, a core value at Geneseo. We strive to foster a diverse campus community marked by mutual respect for the unique talents and contributions of each individual.

It’s why we dedicate time and resources to programs that help students, faculty and staff feel valued for who they are — and what they bring. We also come together to discuss and face our challenges. By sharing our life experiences and listening to each other, we gain new perspectives that enhance our understanding of ourselves — and make us consider our own viewpoints.

Promoting unity and understanding is the premise behind Cultivating Community, our newest initiative jointly coordinated by Meredith Harrigan, associate professor of communication, and robbie routenberg, interim chief diversity officer. After my first year, I envisioned Geneseo developing a program that would bring people together — from on and off campus — for open, honest discussion on matters of inclusivity and other subjects touching on what it means to be a true community.
As a program, Cultivating Community does just that, presenting an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to convene each semester at three campus dialogue events to discuss a topic related to a community theme.

The first theme in spring 2017 was “Making Geneseo Feel Like Home for Everyone.” Last fall, we asked, “In a World That Appears So Divided, What Would It Take for Geneseo to Feel ‘U-Knight-ed?’” This semester, we are focusing on “Communicating in a Diverse Society.”

I’ve attended every session and each time, I come away with ideas on how to improve and enhance what we do here at Geneseo. Going forward, my goal is to expand the number of participants and ensure strong representation across our many constituencies — and by doing so, include others who hold viewpoints that add to the tapestry of our campus and make us stronger as a community.

I credit my colleagues for planting a seed of an idea and bringing it to life. Cultivating Community allows us to build on our strengths by engaging in topics that are sometimes challenging, sometimes difficult — but ultimately vital in fostering a stronger sense of community and connection. Both are defining attributes of Geneseo.

As you read more about Geneseo’s spirit of community in this issue of the Scene, I hope our stories will bring you back to a place you never really left.

A place you can always call “home.”

Author: geneseoscene

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