The Casamento era begins

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James McClendon, editor-in-chief

Casamento is the ninth person to hold the title of President at Utica College. She is also the first female president in the school’s history.

In her time as Executive Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer, Casamento has used her more than 20 years of experience as a senior executive to put in place financial initiatives that have fortified UC’s financial health for the foreseeable future.

Casamento talked about her transition into her new role and how helpful and supportive the campus community has been as a whole.

“It’s been terrific,” Casamento said, “I have just had so much support from the Utica College campus community.”

On one beautiful day of this early semester, Casamento found herself sitting behind her desk with a large amount of work to be completed. She decided to put her notepad away and headed outside to interact with the students on campus.

Casamento headed to the dining hall to talk with students waiting in line. She then dropped in on a freshman orientation class, which was taking place out in the grass.

She said that one of the biggest lessons that she learned from her predecessor, President Todd Hutton, was that you cannot sit in your office all day.

“It is important for me to be on the front lines like he was to really understand the student experience,” Casamento said.

President Hutton’s love and passion for Utica College athletics was well documented. He could often be found sitting with his wife at a women’s basketball game or celebrating a touchdown with students at the homecoming football game.

Casamento plans on attending games for every sports team at UC, not because she has to but because she genuinely loves athletics.

“Athletics at Utica College is a really important part of who we are,” Casamento said.

Head women’s basketball coach Michelle Davis explained how important it is to have the person in charge be so involved in athletics both for student athletes and for her as an employee.

“I think the biggest thing is the students because that is what we are all here for,” Davis said. “For a student athlete to be able to look into the stands and see President Hutton or President Casamento is huge and it gives the students and coaches a personal connection with her.”

Another way Casamento plans to reach the student population at UC is to set up open office hours once a month in the residence halls. She will rotate which hall she meets students in each month.

“In the evenings I am going to be in the residence halls talking to students when students have the time,” Casamento said.

Casamento also talked about the future of Utica College. One of her goals is to increase retention and graduation rates.

The president has established a campus task force, charged with making sure the six-year graduation rate exceeds 60 percent in less than 10 years. That number currently sits at about 44 percent.

Casamento said she is working very closely with Sodexo on a major renovation of the dining hall. Sodexo will be founding the $4 million remodeling.

According to Casamento, it will be a complete gutting of the space. There will be two sets of stairs and a beverage station on the second level.

Another important addition to the hall is that the food preparation will be brought almost entirely out into the dining room. This means that student will be able to see their food being prepared.

Sodexo General Manager Damian Boehlert is excited about the new plans and how happy to have a president that cares about improving the campus for the students.

“She is taking the lead on this whole project,” Boehlert said. “Her goal is to improve student life and by doing that I think it’s going to make the experience here at Utica College one hundred times better.”

Casamento’s message to the UC community was that she is so grateful for the support she has received during this transitional period.

“What I have appreciated is the honesty and transparency,” Casamento said. “People have shared with me the opportunities and challenges that we face as a campus community.”

Casamento’s final remarks were, “I am really thrilled to be your president.”

 

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