Manhattanville College Names Center for Design Thinking in Honor of President Emeritus Michael Geisler

Alison Carson (left) gives tribute to President Emeritus Michael Geisler (right).

Manhattanville College’s recently retired President Michael Geisler returned to campus as the school rededicated its Center for Design thinking in his honor. 


In a ceremony attended by faculty, staff, and the community, President Emeritus Geisler was honored for his contributions to the center which opened in 2019. Geisler was a major force behind the center’s creation saying he believed that design thinking was an essential component of a liberal arts education.  Manhattanville offers the only certificate program in Westchester and is among the few liberal arts colleges in the country to offer an undergraduate certificate in design thinking.


“President Emeritus Geisler came to Manhattanville with a vision of design thinking as a way to enhance the liberal arts education at Manhattanville College,” said Alison Carson, Ph.D., associate provost for academic innovation and design thinking at Manhattanville. “It has been an honor working to bring Michael’s vision to fruition. In just three and a half years from the opening of our doors, we have a Certificate in Design Thinking with our first students graduating this spring.’’


Design thinking is a systematic approach to solving problems that has gained popularity in recent years among business leaders and others because of its emphasis on innovative and collaborative solutions to complex issues. A design thinking approach fosters the development of skills – especially the ability to be empathetic and look at the problem from another’s point of view – that are useful in any environment, including adaptability. 


Interim President Louise Feroe, Ph.D., said that it was only fitting that the center be named after Geisler since it was part of his legacy. “Michael has worked consistently and tirelessly to show the college and the community the value of design thinking, He has made many important contributions to this school:  bringing design thinking to Manhattanville was first among them,’’ said Feroe.


Manhattanville Board Chairman Michael Dunn said he was very familiar with design thinking having used it in his company, but that Geisler was an early adapter of the concept as applied to liberal arts. 


“When Michael came to us with the idea of design thinking, I was personally very pleased to see it because I know of the value it can deliver,’’ said Dunn. “Michael, thank you very much for your leadership and for doing design thinking. The bottom line is that employers want someone who knows how to solve problems in a fast, efficient way. That’s what this is about.’’


Geisler, who served as President from 2016 to 2022, thanked the board, and his staff and added a special thank you to Dunn for helping him research design thinking. 


“This honor is quite humbling and wonderful, and I am very pleased to be a part of Manhattanville,’’ said Geisler. “Lots of people have good ideas, but not everyone has someone to support those ideas. My cabinet was a very integral part of making this happen as was Alison (Carson) who took this idea and made it work. Thank you.”


Marsha Gordon, President and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, congratulated Geisler on the honor.


“Michael was a tremendous leader throughout his tenure at Manhattanville College,’’ said Gordon, who attended the ceremony. “Bringing design thinking to the college will help provide students with the critical skills they need to prepare them for careers in any field. It was a great gift to the school, and to future generations of Manhattanville students.’’