Manhattanville welcomed one of its newest Valiants to the community, Dr. Michael Geisler, as the College’s thirteenth president on July 1, 2016. After almost successfully completing his first year at Manhattanville, President Geisler opened his doors to shine light on this past year and what it has meant to him.
The Trustees of Manhattanville College were unanimous in their decision to appoint President Geisler as the head of the College. President Geisler’s efforts to unify the campus community was a main goal of his since he initially came on board and though there is still more progress to be made, there are definitely steps being taken toward fulfilling his initial plan.
“One of my proudest moments [at Manhattanville] was the inauguration, and not because it was my inauguration, but because it was about using the inauguration as a way of showing o what our faculty and students do together,” said President Geisler.
An inauguration is typically the formal admission of someone into office, but for President Geisler on Oct. 23, 2016, he intended to see things through a bit differently. President Geisler is a stickler for campus-wide integration, and we often find that begins in the classroom.The faculty, staff, and students of Manhattanville College came together in celebration of President Geisler, but it was they who he was intending to celebrate over a three-day span.
“Everyone just exceeded my expectations and made me so proud to be part of this institution,” said President Geisler, “and particularly proud to be leading it.”
Another important aspect of campus integration for both President Geisler and the community as a whole is having a safe place. With the decision to create the Center for Diversity on campus came a sort of fulfillment for students who have been asking for such an inclusive space over the years.
“We are in the final stages of interviewing for a director [of the Center for Diversity] and once we have appointed somebody, we are going to be opening the Center,” said President Geisler.
The planning for both a student-faculty-weighted inauguration and the steps for opening a Center of Diversity on campus began in the fall 2016 during President Geisler’s first few weeks on campus. Though many positive and hopeful moments for President Geisler, there were difficult moments of heartbreak and pain that hit the entire community especially hard.
On Oct. 9, 2016, Manhattanville lost Robby Schartner, ’18, after he was hit by an allegedly drunk driver on his walk back to campus from White Plains.
“The death of our student Robby Schartner was a tough one for me,” said President Geisler, “but I think we rallied as a community. It showed the incredible cohesion not only in the Valiant teams but also in the community of the whole.”
President Michael Geisler also reflected upon the anxieties from the Nov. 2016 election on both sides of the spectrum.
“Students felt threatened, others felt they couldn’t speak up, so the anxiety was very difficult,” said President Geisler.
Trying to keep our campus community from falling apart during these two notable and difficult times seemed almost impossible, but President Geisler persevered and made sure the College community had the resources they needed to mend the broken cracks.
As students began to arrive in Aug. 2016, President Geisler had a few core ideas in place: he wished to break down the interdisciplinary boundaries of the College, focus beyond the curriculum, and promote campus-wide integration. These visions have begun to be seen by the entirety of the community and progress is being made, however, there is still much more to go.
“These items are core items [breaking down interdisciplinary boundaries, focusing beyond the curriculum, campus-wide integration] and they have not changed, but rather intensified,” said President Geisler, “But we need to build the community stronger.”
President Geisler’s first academic year at Manhattanville College can be deemed a successful one. As the seasons quickly change and the sun begins to warm up comes an event students are both happy and sad to see arrive: commencement. President Geisler wishes to stress to graduating seniors is to go to where the jobs are and never rule out an interesting or possible position because it’s in an area of the country you don’t think you want to go to.
For returning students, it is important to make the most of your summer.
“Those that are going into their second, third, or fourth year, think about doing something in the summer that will work toward your credit balance so you can finish your diploma in four years, said President Geisler, “Or do an internship, of course.”
And for those graduating…
“Be proud of your Manhattanville education, stay engaged, and come back and talk to us,” said President Geisler.