President's Newsletter July 2015

July 17, 2015

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

With summer in full swing and the ’15-’16 academic year soon to move into high gear, I hope you are enjoying some relaxing time with family and friends, whether at home or on the road!

Besides some fun family travel, I am benefiting from stimulating professional travel. In Washington, D.C., I served as a faculty member for aspiring college and university presidents at the Executive Leadership Academy. Alvernia’s new board chair, Kevin St. Cyr, and I journeyed to the Aspen Institute for the annual seminar on university governance. And I also am making my way “down under” to Australia, participating in a rare international meeting and symposium of Catholic university presidents. The dialogue with colleagues and commentators is confirming what Bob Dylan once so wisely said: “The Times They Are A Changing” — especially for higher education. But it is clear that at Alvernia we are taking proactive steps to shape our future.

Back on campus, the flurry of summertime Connection Days and numerous high schoolers visiting campus keep many busy. As always, there is considerable additional activity, with the added presence of our first SURFs (Student Undergraduate Research Fellows) working closely with their faculty mentors. So there is much mid-summer news to share with you!

Nothing more important than the latest communication from the Middle States Commission confirming what we anticipated coming out of last spring’s visit of the Accreditation Team: Alvernia has met all the criteria established by the commission and the university is officially accredited through 2024! We have no required monitoring reports and progress reports on only three standards — strengthening long-term finances and the assessment of both student learning and institutional effectiveness. Kudos once again to Shirley Williams, Evelina Panayotova, Alvernia’s Middle States Self Study Steering Committee and all those who contributed to our successful self-study and reaccreditation evaluation.

Our Middle States process modeled the exemplary initiative and teamwork so essential to our success and so often typical of our faculty and staff. Speaking of teamwork, despite the continuing decline in high school graduates from our Mid-Atlantic region, all signs are pointing toward an incoming freshman class that will rival our largest (and best) ever, bolstered by strong interest in our occupational therapy, nursing and healthcare science programs. New majors in finance, healthcare administration and environmental biochemistry are also attracting attention. Equally impressive, our new Doctor of Physical Therapy program is fully enrolled, with a waiting list of students hoping to get in.

There is more…Alvernia’s Holleran Center received a major $890,000 multi-year grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. Building on our innovative Seniors College, we will recruit area seniors to work with children in a variety of educational settings, including existing HCCE programs and other venues throughout the community.

And finally, our professional development and continuing education programs are gaining a great deal of interest from the region’s top corporations. In addition to existing programs delivered in the workplace with partners like Penske Truck Leasing, Caron Treatment Centers and Steven & Lee, we have launched an executive development program with Cambridge-Lee LLC., a strategic planning initiative with the DSS Company, and an employee training program with the Brenntag Corporation.

Don Schalk and Toni Eckert are leading Alvernia’s work in this area and are partnering closely with key faculty members to deliver the programs. More opportunities are in the pipeline that should materialize next year. This new venture is emerging as a potential Alvernia success story.

You can read more about other important campus developments and the June board meeting in this newsletter. Please follow the links at the bottom of each page or jump to a specific section through the left-hand navigation.

> Continue to the JUNE BOARD MEETING section

president's newsletter july 2015

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