L. Sebastian Purcell, SUNY Cortland associate professor of philosophy and co-coordinator of the College’s Latino and Latin American Studies program, was one of 14 leaders from the 64-campus SUNY system named a Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI) Fellow by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week.
Launched in 2018, the institute offers fellowships to Hispanic and Latinx faculty and staff in leadership positions throughout the system. The goal of the Institute is to help these high-achievers continue to build skills and advance their careers, helping SUNY ensure diversity is reflected in college leadership as well as the student body.
“Sebastian Purcell is an outstanding colleague and I am very excited to learn that he will be able to participate in the Hispanic Leadership Institute,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum. “He is known on campus to be a superb teacher, scholar and administrator.”
Over the next six months, Purcell will attend seminars on leadership with other SUNY academics and administrators that will offer insights on how these two sides of campus work together. As an HLI Fellow, he will participate in individualized mentoring, assessment and development programs.
“You can do so much for students in the classroom but if you’re going to do it right and make a difference for students, realistically, the only way you can do that programmatically is to move into the administration in some capacity,” Purcell said. “Leadership comes mostly through experience, so a focused guidance is a better path and I think that’s what the Leadership Institute is about.”
Purcell will serve as interim chair of the Philosophy Department during the Spring 2019 semester. He previously directed the College’s Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies.
Purcell hopes that those leadership experiences, combined with the HLI fellowship, will help prepare him for an administrative role that will allow him to provide his talents and expertise to a wider range of students.
At SUNY Cortland, as in New York state and across the nation, those students are becoming increasingly more diverse. SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson explained that it is of upmost importance that SUNY’s students feel welcome and represented when they join the campuses.
“Ensuring that our faculty and staff are as diverse as our student body is a way to achieve that goal,” Johnson said.
“The Hispanic Leadership Institute provides its fellows with the skills to achieve success in their own professional lives but also how to be a role model to their peers and students. The groundwork laid through the Institute is crucial and will have a positive effect on the lives of students and our campuses for generations to come.”
Purcell earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Dallas and received both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston College.
He has written widely on topics of moral, political and Latin American philosophy, as well as comparative scholarship on Aristotle and the Aztecs. His popular observations about the Aztec view of happiness and living a good life won the 2016 American Philosophical Association Essay Prize. He has worked with noted Argentinian-Mexican philosopher Enrique Dussel and has been a featured speaker at the Chautauqua Institution.