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February 17, 2000

Fourth Candidate Visits UW-River Falls

Kurt Geisinger was born into higher education: his father taught college, his mother was a college librarian, his brother is a doctor and professor, another brother teaches, and his wife is a psychology professor.

"It's a genetic component of who I am," Geisinger said during a visit to UW-River Falls on Thursday. "I'm very close to education. I support education." Geisinger, who is the academic vice president at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., was the fourth finalist seeking to replace Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau, who announced his retirement last August after 15 years due to health reasons. "I really happen to believe in what we're doing," Geisinger said of his pursuit of the chancellor's position. "I really philosophically believe deep in my heart that education is a calling or a mission and something that people do because we want to improve the world.

"I have a very balanced perspective on what a college and university is. What we do is very important work: that is, trying to improve society and the lives of individuals. That is ultimately why I want to be chancellor."

Geisinger said he was happy when he first won tenure to teach, and was pleased again when he was named a department chairman. He said he also enjoyed the challenges, despite the stresses, of rising through administrative positions to his current role as a chief academic officer.

A bonus as a senior administrator, Geisinger said, is the ability to see tangible results of his efforts as opposed to the longer time it may take to see the impact of former students on their profession and society.

During a campus forum Geisinger outlined eight items that he says UW-RF will face in the coming years, which can provide some opportunities to excel:

•Costs: Private college tuition rates are increasingly driving more students and parents to public institutions. However, despite the demand, public universities can't afford to sacrifice quality.

•Revenue: Legislative funding initiatives must continue, but with an increasing re-direction toward finding significant outside funding from donors and granting agencies. "I'm convinced a capital campaign can be successful here," he said.

•Technology: River Falls is poised to be a leader in teaching others how to use technology in their professions throughout the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin.

•Diversity: Businesses insist that today's college graduates work effectively with those of other cultures and races.

•Faculty-student relationships: Faculty can influence students for the rest of their lives through teaching and advising, but the nature of the relationship is changing because of technology.

•Teaching and scholarship: Students should be encouraged to pursue research activities to develop a love of life-long learning.

•Partnerships: The modern university must pursue new, innovative relationships. He cited the role of Massachusetts Institute of Technology providing statistical research help for the partners in the media megamerger of America On-Line and Time-Warner, Inc.

•Training for Life. Students must leave with a healthy respect for diversity, the arts, and great ideas in literature and thought.

Geisinger began his teaching career as a psychology professor at Fordham University, where he also served as department chair. In 1992 he joined the State University of New York College at Oswego as dean of arts and sciences. He came to Le Moyne College in 1997.

He holds a doctorate in psychology from Pennsylvania State University.

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