This July, Colgate University welcomed its 17th president, Brian W. Casey to campus. Prior to being named President of Colgate, Casey served as President of DePauw University in Greencastle, IN. Casey officially took office on July 1, 2016. He had the opportunity to visit Colgate on many occasions over the past year and accepted his new position in August of 2015. However, Casey says that time has not made the transition any less of a challenge.
“It is a shock to move and to come to a new university with all new people. I am really just like a first-year student,” Casey said.
Casey did not arrive at Colgate alone. He is joined by his three-year-old rescue dog, Emrys. Casey shared that Emrys has his own Instagram account, @emyrs_at_colgate, which shows the dog’s daily explorations around campus.
Casey’s arrival at Colgate comes after his many years of experience in law and education. He graduated from Stanford Law School and spent time working as a lawyer on Wall Street. In 2000, Casey earned his doctorate degree in history of American civilization from Harvard University, with a focus on the history of American higher education and intellectual history.
Casey explained the career change that led him from Wall Street to Broad Street.
“I knew I belonged on campus; I missed academics and intellectual life,” Casey said.
Although Casey has worked at various other institutions, including Brown University, Harvard University and DePauw University, Casey noted Colgate’s energy as being a distinct quality of the University.
“The faculty here are extremely engaged – research intensive – yet so committed to teaching. The energy expresses itself in many other ways as well; the place just has a spirit about it that is very appealing,”
Although the 2016-2017 academic year has just started, Casey has appreciated his interactions with members of the community. Casey noted he enjoys faculty lunches and his nightly walk with Emrys, as both provide small opportunities to interact and build relationships with Colgate faculty and students. Additionally, Casey, a former member of the University of Notre Dame swim team, has taken advantage of bonding with athletes on the Colgate swim team by joining them for practice on several occasions.
“I am doing everything I can to meet as many people as possible. I am trying to be around and really get people excited about Colgate’s future,” Casey said.
In addition to forming relationships with the Colgate student body and faculty, Casey hopes to focus on three areas of improvement in the coming year: diversity, the arts and the Residential Commons program.
“I would like to bring people in from the outside to see what we can do about diversity and inclusion. We have a lot of people who are very interested in diversifying the campus and making it more inclusive. There is a lot of energy but often is disconnected,” Casey said.
Casey also mentioned the need of an external review on diversity that would allow for further examination and improvement of diversity and inclusion on campus. Casey added that the review may take time before being launched in order to ensure it is done correctly and that all questions are answered.
Casey’s long-term plan for the arts at Colgate includes constructing better performance facilities. Furthermore, Casey hopes to examine and reform the Residential Commons program before it is fully implemented. This program will allow students to live in various learning communities throughout campus.
“I am not sure we have a robust plan in regards to the Commons. I would like to have a deep and meaningful conversation about what we are trying to achieve with the Commons. What can they do and what can’t they do?” Casey said.
Casey remains optimistic and excited for the future of Colgate.
“I am brand new. I want to get to know the place and stay here for a very long time and do a lot of things. Investing and connecting with people is going to pay off in a very long-term [way]. I am beyond thrilled I am here,” Casey said. “Colgate feels like a good place. It may not be a perfect place, but it is a good place.
Casey’s Inauguration Ceremony is scheduled for September 30 at 4:30 p.m. in the Colgate Memorial Chapel. All are welcome.