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Michael E. Geisler, Ph.D. - Manhattanville College. Purchase, NY, US

Michael E. Geisler, Ph.D. Michael E. Geisler, Ph.D.

President | Manhattanville College


A leader in liberal arts education; an expert in national symbols, terrorism and risk.






President Michael E. Geisler at the 2016 Academic Convocation Interview with  Dr.Michael Geisler President of Manhattanville College , New York#COP22 President Michael Geisler's Inaugural Address




Michael Geisler, Ph.D., became the thirteenth president of Manhattanville College in October of 2016. Before coming to Manhattanville, Geisler served as vice president for Risk and Compliance, professor of German, and former vice president for the Language Schools and Schools Abroad at Middlebury College.

Under President Geisler’s visionary leadership, Manhattanville opened its new School of Nursing and Health Sciences and the Center for Design Thinking which is among the first of its kind at a liberal arts college and serves as a valuable resource for businesses and non-profits. Geisler opened the Center for Inclusion, started the Presidential Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and created a new position of Chief Diversity Officer. He has stewarded the institution successfully through tough financial times in higher education due to the pandemic.

Geisler set the College on a path to success with the implementation of the Manhattanville Strategic Plan 2017-2020. The Strategic Plan centers on enhancing academics, building recognition and reputation, making connections, and financial management focused on growing revenue from new programs and increased fundraising, and leveraging and enhancing assets.

Geisler has raised the profile and reputation of the College and brought visibility through public events such as the branded series, “Castle Conversations” that brings high-profile authors and scholars to campus to discuss timely topics with audience participation. These have been popular with students, faculty and the public.

During his time as President, Geisler has grown the Board of Trustees, adding nine dynamic leaders in business, tech, finance, and healthcare. Geisler was chosen for the City and State Westchester Power 50 as well as the Responsible 100 in 2019 and the City and State Westchester Power 50 in 2020. He serves on the Boards of the Business Council of Westchester and the Keio Academy.

Geisler received the German Abitur, the Staatsexamen (equivalent to the M.A.) in English and German from the University of Mannheim, and a Ph.D. in German literature from the University of Pittsburgh.

He was born in Mannheim, in what was then West Germany. His wife of close to 30 years is Alice Leo, a nurse who works at Greenwich Hospital. Their daughter, Julia Larissa Geisler, graduated from college in 2016 after studying advertising and integrated marketing communications in New York City.

Areas of Expertise (8)



Germany and Europe

International Affairs in Higher Education


National Symbols


Liberal Arts Education

Accomplishments (1)

Friend of German Award, American Association of Teachers of German


Education (2)

University of Pittsburgh: Ph.D., German Language and Literature 1981

University of Mannheim: M.A. 1976

Languages (2)

  • German
  • English

Selected Media Appearances (7)

Westchester Businesses Expect the Unexpected in 2021

Westchester Magazine  print


Faculty at Manhattanville College in Purchase created a free, online summer course designed for incoming first-year students. The two-credit course, which was taken by nearly 100 incoming students, covered the impact of COVID-19 on many different academic disciplines. “The course received national attention and accolades, as the approach was unique to Manhattanville,” notes Michael Geisler, Manhattanville’s president. “We plan to use this course as a model for creating similar interdisciplinary courses focusing on major topics of current interest. “We expect that the spring semester will look similar to the fall in terms of safety precautions and protocols, and small and virtual classes and events,” he adds. “We are confident that, with [widespread distribution of] a vaccine on the horizon, we will be able to return to a more normal academic year, with the kind of personal, student-faculty interaction that is the hallmark of a small liberal-arts college in academic year 2021–2022.”

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Fiction, Politics Topic At Last 'Castle Conversation'



"Despite their very different political viewpoints and positions Richard North Patterson and Bret Stephens have managed to continue speaking with each other, to reach across the gulf that is threatening to split this society down the middle," said Geisler. "I strongly believe that, as a college community, we need to both engender and facilitate that sort of dialogue, and I also believe that Manhattanville's values and traditions, inclusivity, our focus on the intellectual and personal development of all our students, our strong emphasis on social justice, but above all, the stress we put on empathy are important contributions we at Manhattanville can make to American society at a time when these values are most urgently needed."

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Manhattanville College Opens Center for Design Thinking



Manhattanville President Michael Geisler addressed the audience and spoke about the importance of preparing today's students for the workplace of tomorrow. "Design Thinking is the key to merging the traditional strengths of a liberal arts curriculum with the practical requirements of training a human workforce for tomorrow's market," said Geisler. "The workforce of tomorrow needs to be flexible and capable of adapting to changing work environments quickly, a human workforce that can compete successfully against AI and Machine Learning-based programs that threaten to eliminate 40% of existing jobs."

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Free education for all would widen the gap between rich and poor

The Hill  


Several of the Democratic candidates, jockeying for position to become the nominee who will run against President Trump in 2020, are calling for universal, free college education for every American. On the face of it, it seems to be a laudable goal: Who in their right mind would oppose leveling the playing field for students, giving everybody a chance to succeed on their merits, while reducing the debt burden that looms over an entire generation? Yet in real terms, such a proposal would have exactly the opposite effect. It would further exacerbate the difference between rich and poor in America.

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Manhattanville College Announces Transfer Support Plans for College of New Rochelle Students

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education  


“Manhattanville offers The College of New Rochelle students a smooth and easy transition to a nearby iconic Westchester college,” said Manhattanville president Dr. Michael Geisler. “CNR students will find similar values and wonderful resources at Manhattanville and we will do our utmost to ensure a rapid, seamless integration of them into our welcoming community.“

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Suite Talk: Manhattanville president Michael Geisler talks design thinking, Westchester’s potential

Westfair Online  


“Most of our students have to work to some degree,” Geisler said. “So how can we create a campus culture and curriculum that allows them to do their work, but still provides them with a satisfying academic and community experience while they’re students?”

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Here’s What the Westchester Economy Should Look Like in 2020

Westchester Magazine  print


At Manhattanville College in Harrison, administrators are experiencing something similar. “Health disciplines are very popular. Our biology department is growing by leaps and bounds, and nursing will continue to be a strong option, due to the career opportunities and salaries,” explains Manhattanville president Michael Geisler. Manhattanville is planning to launch a new nursing school in 2020. Technology programs are also growing in popularity. “In the next few years, we think there will be great growth in information systems and artificial intelligence,” Krislov adds, and Geisler says more and more students at Manhattanville are interested in computer science.

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