Welcome to Campaign Q&A, a series of interviews with Siena community members integral to Living Our Tradition: The Campaign for Siena College. This week’s interview subject is Janet Shideler, Ph.D., dean of Siena’s School of Liberal Arts.
Q: How will this campaign impact students and professors in the School of Liberal Arts?
A: The focus on academic excellence and student engagement in particular really resonates with us in the School of Liberal Arts because those are what we consider to be the hallmarks of a liberal arts education.
We see the campaign as having intangible and tangible benefits. The “intangible” is the attention that a campaign brings to the great and distinctive work going on here at Siena … the “buzz,” if you will, about our College. The “tangible,” of course, is the support that we receive that advances that work by providing much needed resources.
Q: What do you see as some of those tangible results?
A: I’ll give you just one example. Let’s look at the tangible benefits that we’ve been able to enjoy in Rosetti Hall. The building is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, and as a result students work in an environment that reflects the 21st century workplace. The next step, however, is assessing the use of technology and making sure that the same positive impact is felt elsewhere by making cutting edge technology available across campus. That’s just one example, but it illustrates how an initiative can yield great results that go well beyond what we envisage.
Q: Which campaign initiative are you most excited about?
A: It’s hard to single out one. It’s almost like asking a parent which child is her or his favorite! They all bring something different to the richness of the Siena experience. So I guess that I would say to you that I am most excited about initiatives in the next campaign … the ones that we haven’t even imagined yet but will build on our current projects and lead us into the future.
I mentioned Rosetti Hall and the technology that I hope will be in place in other facilities as well. Rosetti is also unique for its effective intermingling of formal and informal learning spaces, thereby allowing for more engagement and more student-student and faculty-student interaction. I am eager to see an initiative in the next campaign that makes these great community and pedagogical spaces the rule and not the exception.
I’m eager to see more programs in place like Pre-Law that expose students to advanced studies and to possible career paths while they’re still undergraduates. Similarly, I am excited about more and more students pursuing research interests about which they’re passionate, such as students participating in CURCA do now. And when I think about the McCormick Center for the Study of the American Revolution, my mind goes directly to envisioning what we can accomplish in the field of public history and how we’ll be able to promote digital humanities in the broadest sense. In short, I love the initiatives of this campaign, but I can’t wait for us to get started on the next campaign to see what innovations surface.
Q: Why is this comprehensive Campaign so important to Siena College right now?
A: We spend a lot of time in higher education contemplating the challenges we face. I think sometimes it’s important to commit energy instead to “dreaming big.” The Campaign encourages us to do just that: take time to focus on innovation and to celebrate our successes, especially student success.
Q: What is the most important thing someone should know about this Campaign?
A: Even the smallest gesture can make a tremendous difference. All of us tend to think of the many needs addressed in the Campaign and the total dollar target, and we come to the conclusion that our modest gifts won’t have an impact, but they do. They absolutely do.
Give from the heart to something that speaks to you, whether it’s a student scholarship … or support of technology that aids student preparedness … or a program that reflects your passion or your values. Give within your means and feel good about that. And know that your support is deeply appreciated here every single day.