Presidents Newsletter March 2014

March 27, 2014


Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues, 

Our commitment to investing in faculty excellence took a giant step forward Tuesday. Thanks to the generous gift made by Board Chair Joanne Judge and her husband Rick Oppenheimer, we will create an undergraduate research program that will catalyze increased faculty-student collaborative research. This initiative will help both to expand opportunities for faculty scholarship and to provide talented students with valuable, hands-on research experience in one of their major areas of study. 

Support for faculty excellence is essential to our continuing improvement of educational quality. With that belief, and the inspiration of Joanne and Rick’s latest investment in the university, Helen and I decided to make our own contribution toward this goal. Part of our gift will enhance current funding, with the remainder being a deferred pledge to launch an endowment supporting the faculty excellence program. Joanne and I and our spouses hope to encourage others to make similar investments to help support our faculty as they seek to excel as teacher-scholars. 

Alvernia had memorable excitement of a different kind — our own moment of March Madness — earlier this month as sophomore Chuck Cooper capped an amazing comeback with a game-winning shot in the Commonwealth Conference Championship basketball game. ESPN even immortalized the shot on its Top 10 Plays of the Day. With the victory, the Crusaders claimed their fourth consecutive championship and third conference crown in the last four years before bowing out in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Championships. Congratulations to the team, especially Coach Mike Miller, his staff and our four special seniors — Kahill Bennett, Chris Davis, Brian Parker and Dave Sloane — on a fine season! And bravo to Brian for gaining All-American honors! 

College of Arts & Sciences Dean Beth Aracena is helping build “international” excitement, as she leads a team of faculty, staff and administrators expanding global learning opportunities for our students. In addition to two previously planned trips to the Dominican Republic this semester, we have students studying in several international locations and have launched a China initiative, involving a consortium including Alvernia and four other top-tier regional universities. As a first step, I have appointed students Kyle Covington and Monica Echeverri as our first Chinese Ambassadors. They are enrolled in an on-line course taught at one of our partner schools and will head to China in May to participate in a related study program and to promote our consortium to Chinese universities. Our hope is that a group of Chinese students will visit our campus in July, with others to follow in 2015.

Next month we bid a fond farewell to our friend and colleague Mike Pressimone. After serving eight years at Alvernia as vice president of institutional advancement, Mike and the Pressimone clan are headed west to St. Louis where he will assume the presidency at Fontbonne University. A reception in Mike’s honor is planned for April 29, 4-6 p.m., at the McGlinn Center. I hope you will drop by. The search committee working to identify Mike’s successor has made good progress, with finalists to visit campus in early April.

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presidents newsletter march 2014

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