Family Fusion Newsletter

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Dear Parents and Families,

This is the latest in our series of periodic communications to aid you in supporting our students’ success at Alvernia University. In each edition, we share information about one or more subjects that are of particular importance at the time of publication, as well as reminders of upcoming deadlines and events.

This month, our students will be preparing to register for fall semester classes (and perhaps even for an additional class this semester, in our fourth "Mod") and apply for and choose 2017-18 housing (a process closely associated with registration).  This edition contains information that will help you help your student with each of these important tasks.  And don’t miss the announcement of our Live Auction to help us support our Alternative Breaks program.

Please don’t hesitate to call or write me if additional information or assistance would be helpful.


Joseph J. Cicala, Ph.D.
Vice President for University Life and Dean of Students // 610.796.8211




Administered by the Academic Success Center (ASC), academic alert notices are a way for Faculty, Staff, and Advisors to communicate information about a student who may need extra academic assistance in order to succeed. Alerts are generated when professors express concerns about a student’s performance in class or about course performance overall. The academic alert initiative provides students with ample time to improve their academic performance. Faculty members are encouraged to fill out an academic alert notice when students have:

  • Late or Missing homework
  • Excessive absences
  • Low grades on exams or tests
  • Classroom or behavioral issues
  • Other issues related to academic progress in a course

Students and advisors receive notification by email instantly. Academic alert submissions are collected at any time during the semester and by the end of the third week of each MOD for Graduate & Adult courses. The Academic Success Center makes the determination of what specific set of support services or intervention would best work for the student. Students should be sure to meet with individual professors to discuss ways to bring up their grades and improve performance. Any student who receives alerts in three or more classes will be asked to meet with someone in the Academic Success Center to create a plan with specific steps the student must take to address course performance.

 Advising and Registration

Registration for the fall semester will start on April 3. Academic advisors will begin meeting with students in March and continue through advising week, which is April 3- April 6. The advising meeting is essential, as students cannot be "cleared" to register online until they meet face to face with their advisors. For freshmen, this is their First Year Seminar instructor; for upperclassmen, this is the advisor whose name appears at the bottom of their schedule in our Self-Service System. If there is a “hold” of some kind for financial or other reasons, please encourage your student to work closely with her/his advisor or the Academic Success Center (ASC) to learn what needs to be done to remove the hold and then to register. If your student has questions, he or she should go to the ASC in Bernardine Hall or call 610.796.8263. ASC staff will either have the answers or will help identify and reach the correct university personnel to assist your student.


Influenza on the Rise

Influenza is on the rise nationwide and college students are at increased risk of contracting the flu due to lifestyle factors. Encourage your student to get the flu vaccine asap as it can reduce incidence of flu illness, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Close contact in residence halls, classrooms, public transportation, parties, and sports events make flu especially easy to spread at college. Further, lack of sleep, unhealthy eating habits, and infrequent exercise can weaken the immune system, making it even easier to catch the flu. If your student thinks (s)he has the flu, encourage him/her to visit the Health and Wellness Center for diagnosis and treatment as needed.  To get your flu shot visit

How To apply for Fall Housing

Our students are preparing to make their housing applications and selections for next year, a process closely associated with registration for fall semester classes. (Registration for fall semester classes is required in order to finalize the housing application.) Living on campus is an integral part of your student’s college education. In fact, results from research conducted on our campus shows just how important living in on-campus housing can be to a student’s success. Students who live in university housing at Alvernia:

• earn higher grades
• are happier with their college experience
• have more positive contacts with faculty and staff
• use academic support resources more frequently
• feel a greater sense of connection to the University community
• report greater improvement in multiple areas of academic and personal growth
• feel less overwhelmed and more able to manage their time

As residents, students also have more opportunities to get involved with the social, cultural, and extracurricular activities on the University campus. And the more connected students are to the University’s community, the more relationships they develop. As a result, the more satisfied they tend to be with their total college experience.

As the deadline for applying for on-campus housing approaches, there are a few details you should be aware of. In order to be eligible for campus housing, students must complete the following steps:  1) complete our online housing application 2) pay the housing deposit 3) register for 12 or more credits for the fall 2018 semester.

The deadline for all three steps is April 6.

In addition to our traditional housing options, students can become even more involved in their housing by participating in a number of co-curricular and interest-based communities (CHOICE Housing). For returning students, those communities include Sophomore Serve, Academic Village, and Affinity Housing.

• Sophomore Serve is a community that works with the Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement on service opportunities in the local community.
• Academic Village is a community that centers on dedication to academic rigor through extended quiet hours and extra learning support.
• Affinity Housing is designed for a group of students who want to live together under a theme of their choice (Cancer Awareness, Men's Baseball, Berks Animal Rescue League, etc.) and complete at least one service and community project each semester. Students interested in this housing option will need to complete the application by mid-March.

 If you have any questions about our housing selection process, housing options, or the advantages of living on campus, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Residence Life at 610.796.8320.

Get ready to get your bid on!  Alternative Breaks presents our First Annual Live Auction!

On March 14, from 3:30-5:30 in the McGlinn Conference Center, Campus Ministry will host a unique event combining a live auction with a silent basket auction.  This event will raise funds for Alternative Breaks, which sends more than 70 students to service sites in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.  The program is fully funded by donations and requires about $50,000 a year to sponsor all our students who participate. 

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and families are invited to participate in the live auction.  We have several attractive items on the bidding block that you can learn about below.  If you would like to bid on an item but will not be present at the event, we encourage you to talk with your student about coming to the auction and making a bid!  All are welcome!

Live auction items to date include:

1) The Deluxe Commencement Package: For graduating seniors, this package includes
     *Dinner at the DoubleTree Hotel-Reading (for 4)
     *One hotel room at the DoubleTree along with a Continental Breakfast
     *Six (6) floor seats at Commencement (Santander Arena)
     *Two (2) Complimentary Parking Passes for Santander Arena

2) The Commencement Package: For Graduating seniors, this package includes:
     *One hotel room at the Candlewood Suites in Reading
     *Two (2) Complimentary Parking Passes for Santander Arena

3) Reserved Parking Spot On Campus
     *For Fall 2017 Semester
     *Spot placement to be negotiated with Public Safety

4) Spend the Day with the President
     *Win a full shadow day experience with Dr. Tom Flynn, President of Alvernia University
     *Great for students who are aspiring to a career in Higher Education!

5) VIP Spring Fling Passes
     *Four (4) backstage passes to meet with X Ambassadors (the 2017 Spring Fling Band)

6) That's Entertainment! Dinner and a Movie for Four with Drs. Blessing and Cicala.
      *Share a meal, a movie, mountains of memorable minutia, and merriment with Professor Tim Blessing and VP for University Life Joe Cicala. Dr. C. will prepare a home-cooked Italian dinner and both will share their love of and informal scholarship about the Golden Age of the Hollywood Musical in a screening of the classic MGM film "That's Entertainment!"

For more information about the Live Auction please contact Julianne Wallace @ 610.796.8300 or

Spring 2017: Show Up to Meet the Freshman Squad Goals

The Freshman Year Experience - Squad Goals, is a component of the FYE program for the spring of 2017. Freshmen will have the opportunity to engage in different events from different categories that will provide them additional ways to connect with the Alvernia community and enhance their student experience. There are opportunities to win prizes by completing individual categories, as well as being entered into a larger prize for completing all categories. For more information, visit our Squad goals webpage: click here.

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