Francis Hall at sunset

Reading CollegeTowne at center of the modernization of a regional university


Alvernia University begins a new direction, strategic plan and university model, supporting the University’s growth plans, refocusing on student outcomes and ensuring the long-term sustainability of its Bernardine Franciscan Sisters’ heritage of serving the underserved in Reading and beyond.


“We believe colleges and universities that survive and thrive will do so by embracing education that puts students and outcomes at the center, strategically aligning human and financial resources to meet student needs and institutional goals, sustaining a strong liberal arts core education and making innovative moves modernizing our model for higher education,” said Alvernia University President John R. Loyack. “That is why the foundation of the Alvernia Advantage is built with the student experience and outcomes in mind.”


Since taking office in July 2019, Loyack empowered the campus community to develop an innovative, five-pillared, five-year, strategic plan, the Alvernia Advantage, that outlines a new academic operating model for a changing marketplace. In March, the Alvernia Board of Trustees approved the plan as well as the formal restructuring process to transition to a new student-centric operating model, highlighted by the entrepreneurially focused Reading CollegeTowne Initiative.


“Our community worked together to develop a new vision for Alvernia,” said Loyack. “It is a vision that positions Alvernia to lead the way in modernizing the regional university. Reading Collegetowne embodies the student-centered, entrepreneurial direction for Alvernia and will create the kind of experiential learning that students want, need and deserve.”


As part of the transition to the new model, Alvernia has initiated a strategic review of all academic, co-curricular and administrative aspects of the University, with programs, positions and operations subject to realignment to more directly meet students’ needs. Alvernia has also begun a process to launch new programs that are in high demand, such as engineering, new health sciences and esports, and renew and expand others such as business, communications and nursing, all with a focus on experiential learning. Likewise, Alvernia will review and consider the elimination of other programs that are no longer market-driven. A major restructuring effort that began last fall will now be implemented over the coming months.


“In this ever-changing environment, colleges and universities cannot survive when more than 80-90% of their revenue is derived from student tuition without being student-centric in its programs and use of resources,” said Loyack. “Nor can they survive by continuing programs that are no longer in demand or cannot be adapted to students’ interests or the complex world in which we live. The current COVID19 crisis accelerates the need for change.”


The Alvernia Advantage strategic plan, the Reading CollegeTowne initiatives and creation of the University’s newly unveiled brand, outlines a new direction while reaffirming the university’s standing and continued commitment to a strong Bernardine Franciscan Catholic tradition of excellence in education, knowledge and leadership, and service to all.


“The next chapter for Alvernia as a 21st-century regional university is one of exciting promise and a bright future with endless possibilities for growth and expansion, while still honoring our mission to serve the underserved and building upon our strong liberal arts foundation,” said Loyack.