New Keuka College Dean Ann Emo Setting the Stage for Academic Success

Keuka College’s Dean of Experiential Learning and Career Engagement combines the discipline of her theater experience with a commitment to student achievement.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

One of Keuka College’s signature programs is getting a makeover – and a veteran educator has been tapped to lead the transition.

Ann Emo, formerly the coordinator for Applied Learning at SUNY Buffalo State College, took the reins as Keuka College’s new Dean of Experiential Learning and Career Engagement on July 18. She’ll oversee the College’s wide-ranging experiential learning initiatives, which include the long-standing Field Period® program, along with a portfolio of related offices dedicated to ensuring student success both at the College and beyond.

“The word ‘career’ is changing,” said Emo, who has nearly 20 years of experience administering experiential learning initiatives. “It’s as much what life gives you as what your job gives you. … The current generation of students is as concerned with their entire life path as they are with jobs. They’re much more interested in balancing what their careers do for them and what their jobs do for them.”

Along with Field Period, the new Center for Experiential Learning and Career Engagement will encompass career development, community relations, global affairs, undergraduate research, and workforce development, said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Brad Fuster.

“Whereas experiential learning is not new to Keuka College, the Center intentionally marshals all of the College’s many resources under one roof,” he said. “Now, following a highly competitive national search, we have a proven and capable leader serving as Dean to best support our students and shine a national spotlight on the meaningful opportunities that make a Keuka College education so valuable.”

Emo, who grew up in the suburbs of Rochester and is no stranger to the Finger Lakes, said she is excited about the potential the new Center has to propel student achievement.

“If you wanted to tagline it, it would be: How education can collaborate with real-world experience to help guide students toward a life path that includes a career; that includes opportunities to think globally, regionally, and locally; and to take responsibility for citizenship,” she said. “I think the Center can really put into practice the values of Keuka College.”

Emo came to specialize in experiential learning through an untraditional curtain – that of the theater. A stage designer by training, she was serving as the Internship Coordinator in SUNY Buffalo’s Theater Department in the mid-2010s when a directive from the SUNY Chancellor mandated state colleges to explore ways to incorporate experiential learning – referred to as applied learning – into their curricula.

It was a case of a unique experience matching a unique opportunity.

“I had expressed an interest years before that,” Emo recalled. “I’d also been doing service learning. So, they knew me and tapped me for that and I became part of the leadership team on our campus’s effort to figure out what applied learning was.”

Part of the learning process involved incorporating her theater experience.

“In theater discipline, everything that we do is applied,” she said. “Theater Arts are intrinsically authentic by engaging the audience in real-world storytelling!”

Having developed and led SUNY Buffalo’s applied learning programs, Emo now takes on a broad portfolio at Keuka College that, among other responsibilities, includes:

-Taking the lead in developing and enhancing the College’s reputation as a national leader in experiential learning.

-Enhancing the robust learning opportunities provided through Field Period experiences and providing related orientation for first-year students.

-Establishing strategic priorities for the new Center for Experiential Learning and Career Engagement.

-Collaborating with the faculty and offices of Advancement, Alumni Relations, and Career Development to develop outside support and track student progress.

Emo said her background and experience are well suited to meeting the challenges of her new role.

“I think coming from a faculty point of view is going to be a big advantage because I can help tie the classroom work with the out-of-classroom work,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been doing. And even within my discipline, that’s what we have to do. I’m a designer and I think that one of the strengths of being a designer is that we look at all the pieces and make informed decisions.”

Dr. Fuster said it won’t take long for those informed decisions – and their impact on student success – to become apparent to the College community.

“I have tremendous respect for Ann's leadership,” he said. “And I’m confident that our students, faculty, international affiliates, and community businesses will find her an eager partner, ready to build new – and deepen existing – educational relationships.”