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Athletics and Recreation study underway

Date: 1/18/2011

An Athletics and Recreation (A&R) Study Committee comprised of faculty, students, alumni, administrators, and staff has been formed to begin the process of evaluating a number of options that would provide the Alvernia community with broader athletic, health, wellness, and recreational opportunities.

As part of its charge, the committee is assessing recreational and wellness opportunities, exploring expansion of intercollegiate and club sports programs and studying the expansion of indoor recreation and fitness facilities for campus use. Also included will be a comprehensive feasibility study, completed through a special subcommittee, regarding the possible addition of football as a varsity sport at Alvernia.

“As we grow as a university, and continue to attract larger numbers of students from the wider Mid Atlantic region as well as from Berks County, it is important that we address changing needs in the athletics and recreation areas,” said John McCloskey, vice president for enrollment management. “These areas complement our academic programs and contribute significantly to our campus culture and student experience.

“To that end, we’ve asked the A&R Committee to study several important initiatives and provide a recommendation as to how we should best proceed as an institution.”

The Football Study Subcommittee will include students, faculty, trustees, staff, alumni, and other representatives with relevant backgrounds and experience. They will look at the potential social and cultural, financial, student enrollment, and identity and recognition impacts of adding football at Alvernia by reviewing football programs at peer institutions and other Division III schools.

“We want to gain a clear understanding of the ramifications of adding a football program,” said McCloskey. “It’s not just a question about introducing a new sport and the related financial impact. We need to carefully consider the social and cultural impact, and how football would affect enrollment as well as our institutional identity. Those are critical elements as well.

“We also understand that some of our neighbors may have an interest in this process and have advised them of our plans and invited their comments,” he said.

Alvernia’s athletic programs have grown significantly from the 1950s when the Bernardine Sisters played pick-up basketball in Francis Hall, to today’s comprehensive program that includes nine men’s and 11 women’s intercollegiate sports, and a wide-range of intramural offerings. In fact, Alvernia’s student-athlete population has expanded by more than 40% in the last five years.

The school competes in the NCAA Division III Middle Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Corporation (MAC), and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). It has made more than 22 appearances in the NCAA Championships, in several different sports.

“This is a very exciting time for Alvernia,” said President Thomas F. Flynn. “With record enrollment growth and the continued strengthening of our academic programs, we are in a fortunate position. It is the right time now to carefully assess the athletics and recreation needs of our campus to make sure we have the right plans and facilities in place that will contribute to our on-going success as vibrant university.”
The timeline for the Athletics and Recreation Study Committee will extend through the spring semester, with a final report and recommendations regarding recreation and athletic programs, indoor facility needs, and the football feasibility study expected by June. 

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.