BATAVIA, NEW YORK - Genesee Community College President Stuart Steiner announced today that he plans to retire from his position effective August 31, 2011. Dr. Steiner, 73, made the announcement this morning in an e-mail message to faculty, staff, and students.
Dr. Steiner has served as president of Genesee since 1975, and as a member of the College’s staff since its founding. He served as Genesee’s Dean of Students from 1967 to 1968, and Dean of Instruction/Executive Dean from 1968 to 1975. He is believed to be the second-longest serving community college president in the United States.
Dr. Steiner is the third president of Genesee Community College. He was preceded by Dr. Alfred C. O’Connell, who served from 1967 to 1971, and Dr. Cornelius V. Robbins, who served from 1971 to 1975.
In a recent Board of Trustees retreat, board members characterized the past year as the most successful year in the history of the College. Dr. Steiner said that these successes and the excellent condition of the College were major factors in his decision. “Our academic programs, and our faculty and staff, are outstanding,” he said. “We now have over 100 recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. Enrollment is healthy, this year hitting record high numbers in the fall, spring, and summer sessions, and projected to grow again next year. Our financial situation is strong, and our facilities are in very good shape. We completed all of the targeted new construction and renovation projects that we planned, ranging from the installation of an artificial turf field, completely renovating the Zambito Gymnasium, providing new locker rooms, installing a new sound system in the gym, upgrading the theatre lighting system, opening our new Lima Campus Center, relocating our expanding School of Nursing to the new Med Tech Park, and breaking ground for a new art gallery, in addition to other work. We have all of our collective bargaining agreements in place, and this year set a record for the number of graduates, exceeding 800 for the first time in our history. Our reputation has never been better, and our reputation extends far beyond our local communities. I believe that Genesee is very well-poised for the future, and I am very comfortable leaving the challenges of leadership to a new president.”
Dr. Steiner, a resident of Batavia, plans to remain in the community. He has no specific post-retirement plans, although he anticipates spending more time with his grandchildren.
Dr. Steiner notified trustees of his decision last week, and notified State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher yesterday.
Board Chair Charles R. Ruffino said that Dr. Steiner’s contributions to local students and the Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming region are historic . The length and accomplishments of Dr. Steiner’s presidency have attracted the attention of community college leaders across the nation for many years, Mr. Ruffino noted. “We thank and congratulate Stuart for completing what we believe is one of the most extraordinary community college presidencies in our nation’s history,” Mr. Ruffino said.
Mr. Ruffino said that trustees deeply appreciate the College’s and Dr. Steiner’s impact on the Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming region. “No other citizen has made education so accessible to so many, or made such a significant contribution to the well-being and economic vitality of our local communities,” he said. “Stuart has worked tirelessly to bring the transformative power of education to many thousands of our neighbors, and has done so while maintaining Genesee’s reputation as one of the most affordable and cost-effective colleges within the State University system.”
Stuart Steiner is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. He began his career as a social worker in 1959, working first as a caseworker and later as Director of Juvenile Court Services for the City of Baltimore. He also served as Director of Baltimore Information and Referral Services for the Health and Welfare Council of Metropolitan Baltimore. He also began serving as a member of the adjunct faculty of Community College of Baltimore County in 1963.
His administrative skills and passion for the needs of students attracted the attention of Dr. Alfred C. O’Connell who, at the time, was serving as president of nearby Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland. Dr. O’Connell named Stuart Steiner as Harford’s Director of Admissions and Placement in 1965. After the newly-formed Board of Trustees of Genesee Community College named Dr. O’Connell as Genesee’s founding president, one of Dr. O’Connell’s first acts was to recruit Dr. Steiner for the position of Dean of Students at the new college in New York’s Genesee County.
When Dr. Steiner arrived in 1967, about a year and a half after the College was founded by Genesee County voters, Dr. O’Connell and several staff members were working out of a small office in downtown Batavia. Dr. Steiner was instrumental in identifying a location for Genesee’s first classes – the old “Valu Tech” building on West Main Street Road, now a Genesee County building – and readying the structure for classes and activities.
As Dean of Students, he was instrumental in recruiting and orienting Genesee’s first students, and 379 of them arrived for classes in September, 1967. After only one year, Dr. Steiner took on new responsibilities, assuming leadership of all academic programs as Dean of Instruction/Executive Dean. The new college grew quickly and, with the support of the Genesee County Board of Supervisors, the County acquired property on the east side of Batavia for what is today the Batavia Campus. Dr. Steiner was instrumental in planning the new facility. Dr. Steiner recalled the sense of commitment and adventure present among the early faculty members and students. “They were part of something innovative and important, and they knew it,” he recalled. “The students, faculty, and staff bonded very quickly and became a true community. There was a deep commitment to excellence among this new community and, in large part, that commitment set the stage for the College’s remarkable success in later years.”
The original Batavia Campus structure, which opened in 1972, became the nucleus of a 300,000+ square foot comprehensive campus which grew under Dr. Steiner’s leadership. The campus today encompasses the original buildings, the Genesee Center for the Arts (1991), the Conable Technology Building (2000), the Humphrey Student Union (2005), and a variety of exterior athletic fields. Dr. Steiner made off-campus outreach a high priority and pioneered one of the first off-site campus centers, which opened in Albion in 1990. Additional campus centers followed in Warsaw, Lakeville (and later Lima), Arcade, Dansville, and Medina. The new centers enabled almost all residents of the Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming region to reach a Genesee location within a 20-minute drive. In collaboration with the Genesee County Economic Development Center, the College transferred 32 acres of land on the south side of Hawley Drive for a new Med Tech business park, which earlier this month became home to the College’s growing School of Nursing. A new art gallery is presently under construction on the Batavia Campus. In recognition of Dr. Steiner’s leadership and his commitment to high-quality facilities, the Board of Trustees in 1991 named the theatre in the newly-constructed Genesee Center for the Arts “The Stuart Steiner Theatre.”
While Genesee’s facilities grew over the last four decades, Dr. Steiner’s highest priority was the development of strong academic programs and services to students and the community. Today, the College offers 65 degree and certificate programs, which last fall served a record 7,208 students. More than 12,000 other area residents participated in business, professional, and personal development courses. More than 20,000 of the region’s residents attended community events based at the Batavia Campus and campus centers last year. Over the last 25 years, 105 members of Genesee’s faculty and staff received the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. He has mentored numerous college administrators and, at last count, 17 former Genesee vice presidents and deans have gone on to assume positions of significant leadership in higher education across the United States. In a 2008 commencement address, Dr. Glenn DuBois, a former Genesee dean and current Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, said that he knows of no community college in the United States that has produced more senior college leaders across the nation than Genesee Community College.
Many of Dr. Steiner’s initiatives have made higher education more accessible to the region’s residents and attracted the attention of community college leaders across the nation. These included the development of a comprehensive distance learning program, which enables more than 10% of Genesee students to participate in online courses; the Accelerated College Enrollment Program, which enables more than 2,700 Western New York high school students to participate in Genesee courses; establishment of The BEST Center, which provides training and education to thousands of managers and employees of area business organizations each year; establishment of educational programs in many correctional facilities; development of academic programs new to community colleges within SUNY, such as Travel and Tourism and Teacher Education Transfer; transformation of Genesee into a “high-tech” environment complete with 83 “smart” classrooms, 33 computer labs, and more than 1,000 personal computers; formation of numerous co-curricular (outside-of-class) activities that now include almost 50 student clubs, organizations, and athletic teams; and institution of Genesee Promise Plus, a program that provides scholarships to all area high school graduates for one or two summer courses at Genesee.
Dr. Steiner called Genesee’s success a “team effort,” and praised the many individuals who have contributed to the College’s success over the years: “From the very first days of the College, our trustees have provided exceptional volunteer leadership. The Genesee County Legislature, our sponsor, has been steadfast in its support for the College. We have an outstanding faculty and staff who go far beyond expectations in meeting the needs of students and the community.” Dr. Steiner also praised Genesee Community College Foundation board members, college alumni, and local business and civic leaders for their ongoing support.
Dr. Steiner said that, while he is proud of the programs and initiatives established under his leadership, his greatest source of satisfaction has been the College’s impact on individual students. Dr. Steiner is known as highly accessible among students. He regularly meets with the Student Government Association and has always maintained an “open door” policy for students who want to see him. “At the end of the day, what happens to students is what counts,” he said.
Dr. Steiner has received state and national recognition for his work. He is a recipient of the New York State Phi Theta Kappa Service Award; New York State Community College Faculty Council Distinguished Service Award; Association of Community College Trustees Northeast Region Chief Executive Officer Award. He was named a Transformational Leader in Higher Education by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation; received the University of Texas at Austin Community College Leadership Award; received a Kellogg Fellowship and various academic honors from Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland, and University of Baltimore Law School. He was named a distinguished alumnus of Baltimore City Community College.
Dr. Steiner’s service and record of innovation led to numerous requests to serve on a variety of regional, state, and national boards and committees over the years. Locally, he has served as a board and committee member for the Rochester Area Association of Colleges; Workforce Investment Board; Private Industry Council; and WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) consortium. On the state level, he has served as a member of the SUNY Task Force on Community College Code and Standards of Operations and Procedures; member of the SUNY Public Service Advisory Committee and SUNY Committee on Presidential Evaluation and Terms of Conditions of Employment; Chair of the State University Task Force on Distance Learning; member of the New York State Education Commissioner’s Advisory Council on Higher Education; Chair and member of SUNY-West College President’s Association; member, director, and president of the New York State Association of Presidents of Community Colleges; and board member of the Institute for Community College Development.
At the request of the SUNY Chancellor, he has taken on sensitive special assignments, including service as Chair of the SUNY Chancellor’s Special Commission on Rockland Community College (1992); Acting Deputy Director to the SUNY Chancellor for Community Colleges (1985); and Interim President of Fashion Institute of Technology (1997-1998). At the request of the New York State Education Department, he accepted an appointment to the reorganized Board of Trustees of New York Chiropractic College. He also served on the Villa Maria College Board for a decade.
On the national level, Dr. Steiner has been active in the American Association of Community Colleges, and was a member of the AACC Commission on Learning and Communications Technology and a member of the AACC Commission on Global Education. He has chaired or served as a member of more than twenty Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation teams, which make college accreditation recommendations. He has also consulted with and chaired teams and visits to educational institutions in Greece, Puerto Rico, and China at the request of the Middle States Commission. He also served as a member of the Middle States Commission Board for six years.
For more than three decades, Dr. Steiner served as an adjunct faculty member of the University at Buffalo Higher Education graduate program, where he taught a course on community colleges. He has also taught at the Community College of Baltimore; Catholic University; and the Rochester Insti