Below is a letter from Alvernia President John R. Loyack as it appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of the Alvernia Magazine.
Welcome to new beginnings at Alvernia University. We kicked off a marvelous academic year in Franciscan style through a series of events all designed to reflect on, participate in and remind us of our primary focus—identity and mission.
During the final days of St. Francis of Assisi, his followers gathered around his death bed and asked Francis how they would continue his work when he was gone. Francis responded, “I have done what is mine to do, may Christ teach you what is yours.” We reflected on this pivotal question, “what is ours to do,” during our annual Mission Day: Franciscan Vocational Leadership, led my Dr. Julianne Wallace, our vice president for mission and ministry at Alvernia.
As she pointed out, being Franciscan encompasses four areas: narrative, in which we tell our stories; relational, in which we develop authentic connections with each other; solidarity, in which we create communities centered in dignity and respect; and prayer and contemplation, in which we renew ourselves to live out our Franciscan identity. What a perfect way to begin the year renewed, reflective and ready to recognize what is ours to do.
Welcoming hundreds of first-time students during move-in day and preparing them for their first Alvernia Day of Service was, in part, a way to help them identify what is theirs to do. As I spent the day engaging with new students, parents and families and helping their teenagers-turning young- adults move into their new homes for the next four years, I couldn’t help feeling immense joy for them as they begin their transformational journey. More than 400 students comprise the Class of 2023, and another 60 transfer students have joined our family as well.
These are exciting times ahead for Alvernia and the communities we serve. Our new strategic planning process is underway, and we are receiving great feedback and input from across constituencies—faculty, staff, administrators, trustees and community leaders.
Known as the Alvernia Advantage, the new strategic plan will provide a framework for the university’s distinctive vision and support for experiential transformation for the individual and community. Through our Franciscan identity, transformation and innovation, student experience, community engagement and stewardship, the Alvernia Advantage will position the university to expand its mission and service, transform lives and global communities, cultivate relationships in downtown Reading and beyond, and steward resources to ensure continuity for generations to come.
If you have not yet been contacted to share your feedback on the Alvernia Advantage, you will! We are reaching out to alumni, parents, the community and of course, students. There is no area that will be untapped in our quest to move Alvernia to the next level of excellence.
I began my first day on campus with a mission moment in which I shared two quotes—one from St. Francis and one from Abraham Lincoln.
“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” - Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” - President Abraham Lincoln
As we begin this new journey together, we will ensure that Alvernia is poised for a great future and capable of the impossible.
John R. Loyack