One of the best, most provocative books I have read since college is Michael Herr’s Dispatches, an account of his time as a journalist during the Vietnam War.  It is a book of wide ranging, apparently separate vignettes, sketches, vivid images that linked together reveal the experience of those who fought the war.  Reading it propels the reader into a different world, almost a different solar system.

I thought of this recently as I pondered the array of recent campus developments. So here are some springtime “dispatches” from the “other Dr. Tom” here on Planet Alvernia. New buildings under construction, like the  two new residences and the Campus Commons, are always exciting.  But the good work of so many good folks always best captures the energy and spirit of a university on the move.

Alvernia has once again received the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll Award, with Distinction. Only 8 Pennsylvania schools are in this elite category! 

Honorees are chosen based on criteria that include the scope and innovation of service projects and the extent of student participation. Kudos to the Holleran Center staff and all those involved. 

For the eighth consecutive season, the Alvernia women’s field hockey team was recognized by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association as one of the top academic teams in Division III. 

This year's top five teams and their GPAs were Vassar (3.52), Wesleyan (3.52), Clark (3.51), Alvernia (3.48) and Johns Hopkins (3.48.) Congratulations to the team and head coach Laura Gingrich! 

A special shout out to seniors Katy Eby, Sam Landis, Tonya Rutt, and Mary VanKirk who were on the National Academic Squad each of their four years. And they are winners on the field too!

Dolores Bertoti has quite literally written the book on kinesiology.  She co-wrote the latest edition of Clinical Kinesiology, the textbook used at universities globally (including Alvernia!) and considered the gold standard in this area of study.

Neag Professor Spence Stober, together with Alicia Sprow, recently returned from the International Conference on Sustainability in Vancouver where they presented “Universities and Community Engagement for a Sustainable Community,” highlighting the unique partnerships that are transforming Angelica Park.

And Tim Blessing has been a familiar face in the media during the presidential primary elections, offering his insights on candidates for news outlets across the nation, something he has been doing for nearly 25 years.

The CJ faculty-- Peggy Bowen-Hartung, Barry Harvey, Rose McFee and Ed Hartung—recently participated in the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. More importantly, they brought with them Criminal Justice students Ryan Hermany, Tom Hall, and Angela Smith who presented research papers.

And Alvernia’s longtime, high profile presence at the International English Honor society continues. Joining Professors Beth DeMeo and Carrie Fitzpatrick in New Orleans were seven student presenters—Sean Cullen, Jessica Heller, Megan McCue, Maria Locicero, Derrick Rowe, Derek Smith, and Michael Wagner.

Our men’s basketball team added to their winning tradition, bringing home the ECAC South Region Championship in dramatic fashion with 93-85 overtime wins over Catholic University. It was Alvernia’s second ECAC title and Coach Mike Miller’s first.

Congratulations to Mike and the team, especially our seniors—Corey Boone, Brian Nerney, and Stephan Thompson. Very few student athletes get to say they won their last game!

Melissa Fellenbaum became the first Crusader to compete in the NCAA Indoor Track Championships earlier this month and finished tied for ninth in the nation with an 11’ 9” effort in the pole vault.   She also won the MAC Women's Pole Vault event and was named to the All-ECAC women’s team.

Twenty-seven Alvernia students took part in Alternative Breaks this month, performing service at three different locations.

In Washington D.C., 10 students worked with the homeless and toured the White House with alumna Emily Berret '11.

In Niceville, Florida, seven students worked with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance to clean up the environment.

And in Reading, 10 students worked with the South Reading Youth Initiative, GoggleWorks, the Pagoda, the Salvation Army, and others.

Speaking of D.C., we have a new alumni chapter in the nation’s capital. I had the pleasure of presenting the charter to four recent alumni who are already extraordinarily successful:  Emily Barrett ’11, Amanda Fenkner ’08, Steve Koons ’05, and Melissa Masone ‘ 09.

And, finally, thanks to the generosity of two former trustees and a dedicated alumna, the Franco Library Learning Center is being seen in a brand new light.

Through generous contributions to our Values and Vision Campaign, Glenn Miller and his wife Carol, along with Chester (Chet) Winters and his wife RoseMarie ’82, have helped make possible the stunning, custom-made stained-glass window celebrating the university’s 50th anniversary, newly installed in the Franco Library.

May the wonderful contributions of so many and the bright promise of spring renew our own energy and spirit. On to Margaritaville and graduation! 

Flynn Files