December 4, 2006
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Student Leaders,
Amidst this season of thanksgiving and anticipation, we bring another semester to a close. I hope it has been a productive and rewarding one for each of you. We have many reasons to be thankful as an academic community, much to celebrate, and good reason for anticipation.
Events like the annual Christmas on Campus (December 8) organized by our students for local children and the January service trip to Santo Domingo help us appreciate the real spirit of the holidays. Gatherings like the annual Faculty-Staff party (December 16) provide occasions for relaxed fellowship and celebration. In addition to the successful Choral Concert this past weekend, and the upcoming student art show (December 11-13), we are fortunate this week to enjoy a reading session for campus authors organized by Tom Bierowski (Friday, 1-2 in the Library) and a classical music recital with visiting clarinetist Stacey Miller and our own faculty, Jennifer Michalik, Ben Modica, and Carol Schwanger (Wednesday Noon – Francis Hall Auditorium).
Save the Date – January 19
We will have a Campus Breakfast and Town Meeting on Friday, January 19. Details to follow.
Graduation and baccalaureate ceremonies will be held on Sunday, December 17. Our student speaker will be a prominent alumnus, Chuck Broad, Deputy Chief of the Reading Police, now receiving his second Alvernia degree. A 1978 graduate of our Criminal Justice program, Chuck is the 2004 recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Our commencement speaker and honoree will be Dr. Mary Louise Fennell, RSM, a national leader in Catholic higher education and a pioneer in cooperative efforts involving academic institutions throughout Latin America. We will also honor Alvernia’s first group of emeritus trustees—P. Michael Ehlerman, Dr. Frank Franco, Dr. John W. Gruber, and Carolyn R. Holleran. All are distinguished individuals who have been generous contributors of time, talent, and resources to Alvernia.
Board of Trustees and Planning
Our Board has its second annual, two-day workshop on December 13-14. The agenda focuses on the planning efforts of the past year. Trustees will review all-but-final drafts of the strategic and campus master plans revised in response to wide-ranging feedback, especially during the November campus sessions. Trustees will also discuss preliminary financial and campaign plans designed both to support implementation and to ensure Alvernia’s future fiscal strength.
Following the Board’s review, and external feedback from select local leaders and a special panel of distinguished higher education leaders, all necessary revisions will be made early in 2007, with the final plans reviewed with the campus community in February. At the same time, the senior executives will coordinate the necessary work to establish implementation actions and schedules, in conjunction with existing groups and key individuals such as the deans and faculty chairs. Thanks to good work by the members of SPC and others, and contributions by many throughout the campus, we are on schedule for the Board to take formal action on planning in March and for implementation plans to be developed by early summer.
As we reach the end of a planning process formally begun a year ago, we should be mindful of the invaluable efforts of those who have preceded us and of the good work of recent years. We also have much to anticipate at Alvernia, and ample reason for confidence, as we look forward five to ten years and beyond.
The search for the Vice President of Enrollment Management has been extended. Scot Schaeffer emerged as the top choice, but decided not to accept our offer. He was very enthusiastic about joining the Alvernia Community and the senior team, but his family is unwilling to move during the next two years. Work has already begun to build a new pool of candidates. We will conduct additional screening interviews during the next two months and will reconsider a few candidates from the initial group. The need to reopen the search also delays the filling of the Dean/Director position since the new vice president should finalize this hiring decision, but we will also screen applicants to identify the top candidates. It is premature to fix a firm timeline, but we will aim for campus visits in late February. My thanks to the search committee and to Sister Margaret for their continuing good efforts on our behalf.
Alvernia has signed a lease with Ken Grill Pool to provide approximately 100 parking spaces annually, from mid-August to mid-May. This is a five year renewable lease and permits us to make any desired improvements. The rent is reasonable and also helps preserve a neighborhood recreation asset. The parking lot will be used for offsite parking consistent with the first phase of the campus master plan.
Speaking of neighbors, Mike Pressimone and I hosted about two dozen neighbors for brunch this past Sunday, joined by some executive colleagues and several of the Sisters. It was an opportunity to meet many of them for the first time and also to brief them on the emerging vision and priorities for the future. This will be an annual event. On the horizon is a similar event for local clergy, and of course we are expanding greatly events gathering groups of alums.
One of our top recent students has joined the new advancement team. Susan J. Martz ’05 has returned to become our new Director of Annual Giving, working to lead our annual giving program. (This year, the annual fund’s goal is set ambitiously at $300,000, up from just over $200,000 last year.) Formerly, Susan worked in The Hill School’s Alumni and Advancement Office. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English and Communications. During college, she was a three-sport varsity athlete lettering in cross-country, cheerleading, and lacrosse and also served as president of Alvernia’s Kappa Pi chapter of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society.
Alvernia was well represented at the recently completed Diocesan Synod. Sisters Maria Korick and Ann Marie Coll, Fr. Kamanzi, and Sharon Helms were elected delegates, and I was one of several ex-officio appointments by the Bishop.
Recently I enjoyed the opportunity to join the current cohort of Medical MBA students during one of their weekends on campus. Coordinated by Karen Schroeder, with excellent faculty from several disciplines, this predominantly on-line program is on the cutting edge in both content and format. The students ranged widely in age, background, and professional focus, but they were unanimous in praise of the program and its faculty.
The national conference sponsored by the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU), and hosted by Alvernia, is now scheduled at the outset of our Fiftieth Anniversary celebration—on June 5-7, 2008.
Honors and Awards
Several academic units have enjoyed important recent achievements, announced on e-mail and covered in the Alvernia Almanac. The Business Department’s successful bid for international accreditation is an especially significant milestone, affirming recent progress and reflecting external confidence in future improvements in the quality of programs and the levels of faculty and student achievement.
Three of our theater students—Jessica Folk, Heather Kissinger, and Catrina Mayo—were singled out for their performances in our recent play and will compete in a regional festival held in New York in January.
Two coaches and two student-athletes were honored earlier this month as our conference’s Coach and Player of the Year in their sports. Congratulations to Coaches Laura Gingrich (Field Hockey) and Travis Berger (Soccer) and to Megan Novogratz (Field Hockey) and Zach Naylon (Soccer). Megan (Second Team) joined fellow senior Becky Macchione (First Team) in receiving All-American honors, and freshman Breah Kinney made the national All Rookie Squad. These individual awards cap a successful fall season for Alvernia athletics, led by these two fine teams.
This newsletter was launched a year ago. With the successful launch of the Alvernia Almanac and related improvements in campus communication, it will now transition to become a quarterly report rather than a monthly newsletter. Please do contact Gale Martin and her team with news items and story ideas. They can’t do it alone. There’s just too much happening!
May the joys of Christmas and the entire holiday season be with each of us, in our own traditions—familial, cultural, and religious—and may we be mindful of our many gifts, among them the gift of good colleagues, good work, and a caring community.
Cordially, Tom Flynn