“I’m very excited to be here and in this new capacity. We are still moving in and getting used to everything here. I understand we will need to make some changes but we are ready!” said Darren Reisberg, newly appointed 11th president of Hartwick College.
“We were in Chicago for 22 years, so it’s great to be back on the east coast. My family is from New Jersey so they are happy and appreciate we are back too!”
Mr. Reisberg has an impressive resume. He’s been a vice president for Strategic Initiatives and Deputy Provost at The University of Chicago, He was also an executive director at The University of Chicago Institute of Politics.
“I feel strongly that while Chicago was a big city and we enjoyed it, we were able to have a place in Michigan where we could get away. When I was in the interview process for Hartwick College and had a chance to come to Oneonta and the opportunity to see the beauty of the area, which I feel is unparalleled to anywhere I’ve been. We fell in love with the area. To just see the campus perched on top of the hill was incredible. “
Taking in the beauty and opportunity of Hartwick, Mr. Reisberg is ready to adjust.
“It’s going to be an adjustment just taking on the presidency here at Hartwick and wanting to learn all that I can. There is so much to learn about Hartwick but what I’ve seen so far is that there is so much momentum and energy here that I’m so excited to capitalize on. Not everyone is so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place and have such a great college.”
We are eager to explore the area, we love Cooperstown and Oneonta.
After speaking with some of the employees, they are very excited in this new era of the presidency.
“It makes things so nice to hear that people are happy that John, my partner, and I are here, people have come up and voiced their excitement about the future of Hartwick and they want to partner with me and with the college to bring it to a new level.
Expectations of the future? “In my first three months it’s important to learn and listen. At this point, I won’t make any decisions about changing anything, but there are some issues I need to look into. The Flight Path Initiative that the board has been behind is very strong. We need to think about how Hartwick can distinguish itself among the other liberal arts colleges in our area and so the flight path that is designed to be a combination of a rigorous liberal arts curriculum and also a career path engine is effective and moves forward.”
The beginning of the student’s career is key to Mr. Reisberg.
“Exploration journey and gaining of 21st-century skills and making sure the students have a support system from the beginning is so important. We need to help them on that journey from the very beginning. That means having a guidance team around you as a student, to have a student guidance coach to help you adjust to college.”
“Our retention rate has room for improvement. Students can feel lost at sea when they get to college, so we have designed this guidance team to help avoid that. We want them to get to their third year and then to graduation. We give them an academic advisor and a career advisor to help them follow that path. “
When asked what his immediate goals are, he was definite. “Right away I need to work with faculty and staff to make sure the flight path is what we say we are doing. Actually, what we are doing is to make sure we are doing improvements all the time. I need to make sure this is happening,” he said.
“We also need to leverage some of the other assets we have. We have incredible faculty that have dedicated their careers that have been here for a long time, some older and some younger. From Political Science to Economics, Business and Chemistry. Our Nursing program is amazing as is our Center for Craft Food and Beverage. This helps our region tremendously.
Pine Lake is something Hartwick College hasn’t talked about much but that Mr. Reisberg is interested in pursuing.
“Students can stay in cabins and study environmental science around geology and ecology. We should drive more interest in that with high school students. Pine Lake can be used to bring students to the area to study and show the beauty of the area and how they can get involved.”
“Ideally, the things I want to dig into, I just need to figure out. I can’t wait to learn more, but what I’m excited about is increasing enrollment, and making sure we are doing everything to ensure recruitment, and encouraging high school students to fill out applications”
A major concern is attracting international students.
“A big campaign for that will be launched soon, that will be essential, so we can continue to operate at a higher level, so we can continue to attract students. That takes resources. People say we are at the leading edge and I agree, but we need resources.” `
The students arrive in August, and he is looking forward to it. “The energy of the students will be great. Among other things, we tell them about the “bells” and you want to hear that after four years. When they graduate, bells ring and it’s pretty awesome!”
“We are here to help them get to that point. We give them support, I think about these things. It’s not real until the students hit the campus. I’m looking forward to that.”
When asked about the Hartwick College alumnae Kathleen FitzGibbon ’85, who has been nominated by President Biden for the position of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Niger, he said he is impressed with all the alumnae and what they’ve done.
“Kathleen Fitzgibbons is amazing and I’m excited for her nomination. I am always excited to hear about Hartwick grads who are going on to do great work here in our country and internationally, and to let our students and alumni know what we are doing. It’s amazing to see what we can do here.”