GENESEO — SUNY Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl—the longest-serving president in the SUNY system—announced today that he will retire from the university effective June 30, 2014 after more than 18 years of service. He will begin a nine-month sabbatical Oct. 1, 2013.
Dahl recommended Geneseo Provost Carol Long be appointed interim president at the time of his sabbatical. He hired Long from Willamette University (Oregon) in 2009, where she was Dean of the College. Long has since worked closely with Dahl and senior colleagues in advancing a number of academic and administrative initiatives, according to a release sent by SUNY Geneseo.
“With her deep understanding of 21st century liberal education, not only will Carol do a splendid job in carrying out our academic mission, she also will be able to advance the college in a number of areas during the interim period,” said Dahl.
The president, also a professor of English at Geneseo, will continue to support college administrators during his sabbatical to assure a smooth transition during the presidential search.
“This is an appropriate time for transition to new leadership,” Dahl told an all-college meeting Thursday. “Serving you as president is the greatest privilege of my professional and personal life. Almost every day since my arrival in 1994, I have been inspired by our students, our faculty and staff, and our friends in the wider community. I have been blessed with superb colleagues in the senior administration. I am deeply grateful.”
Dahl ascended to the presidency in February of 1996, after serving eight months as interim president. Before that, he served one year as provost at Geneseo.
“President Dahl has made an extraordinary mark on Geneseo, and SUNY has greatly benefited from his many years of loyal service,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “His integrity, energy and resolute focus on student success created a national model for high-quality public liberal arts education. We are grateful for the tremendous legacy Chris will entrust to us, and I wish him the very best for his retirement.”
Under Dahl’s leadership, SUNY Geneseo has achieved distinction in a number of areas and has become one of the leading public undergraduate colleges in the nation. Since becoming president, Dahl’s strategic focus has centered on increasing the quality rather than the size of the college, resulting in a variety of milestone accomplishments:
• The number of academically talented students has increased. The average combined mean SAT score of incoming freshmen rose from 1211 in 1996 to 1333 in 2012. Geneseo also has become more selective.
• The college was granted a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 2004, one of only 280 American colleges and universities with a chapter and the only one at a public undergraduate college in New York.
• The number of students attending graduate or professional school immediately after graduating has increased from about 30 percent in 1996 to more than 40 percent today.
• The college has become more diverse. Geneseo students who are African-American, Latino, Asian or Native American (ALANA) now comprise 25 percent of the student body, more than double the percentage from 1996.
• Service and service learning programs have grown. The college has been named to the President’s National Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll every year since its inception in 2006.
• During Dahl’s presidency, Geneseo completed or is in the midst of numerous capital construction projects, including the Integrated Science Center dedicated in 2006. The previous two decades have been the most active building period on campus since the 1963-79 administration of President Robert W. MacVittie. Among projects currently under way are the construction of a new college stadium; renovation of Bailey Hall to house social science departments; and the transformation of Doty Hall to become the college’s new “front door” to house admissions, college advancement and administrative offices.
• The college has garnered consistently high rankings as one of the best public colleges in the nation, including those published by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, The Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly magazine.
• The president has overseen a successful “Shaping Lives of Purpose” capital campaign, which is within $1 million of reaching its $22 million goal.
After retiring, Dahl plans to return to research and writing.
“My 24 years in senior administration have not allowed enough time for me to fully pursue these activities, “ Dahl said. “Several scholarly projects call for my attention—including a series of essays on the meaning of the liberal arts in the public sector.”