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Albright College Names Alumna Jacquelyn S. Fetrow as Its 15th President

Administrator, Biochemist and Educator is First Member of Alumni to Lead College; To Replace Lex O. McMillan III in June 2017

Oct. 28, 2016

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Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82
(Photo credit: Ken Bennett)

Reading, Pa. – Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82, an accomplished higher education administrator, widely published biochemist and award-winning teacher, was named the 15th president of Albright College by the College’s Board of Trustees this morning.

Currently the provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Richmond, Fetrow will become the first Albright alumnus or alumna to lead the College when she succeeds Lex O. McMillan III, Ph.D., in June 2017.

“Throughout her career, Jacque has demonstrated her commitment to the liberal arts, to diversity among students and faculty, and to allowing access to education to all those who seek to learn,” said trustee Charles J. Phillips ’80, who chaired the College’s presidential search committee. “Her background and experience in higher education and in the business community have prepared her well to lead the Albright community as it continues its successful preparation of students for the future.

“Jacque prioritizes listening to people, synthesizing ideas, and engaging in collaborative discussion as methods to achieving common goals. She will be an excellent representative of Albright College – she’s articulate, intelligent and even-tempered, and understands the importance of Albright’s engagement with its community. In many ways, Jacque is the manifestation of the success that an Albright student can achieve.”

Fetrow, a Camp Hill, Pa., native and 1982 summa cum laude biochemistry graduate from Albright, has served as Richmond’s chief academic officer since July 2014. Prior to that she spent 11 years at Wake Forest University, where she served as dean of Wake Forest College, the Reynolds Professor of Computational Biophysics, and dean of the graduate track in structural and computational biophysics. She has also held a research position at the Scripps Research Institute, a faculty position at the University at Albany-SUNY, and post-doctoral fellowships at MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the University of Rochester.

“I am thrilled to be offered the opportunity to return to my alma mater and collaborate with such a talented, dedicated faculty and committed, hard-working staff to provide Albright's students with educational opportunities and co-curricular experiences to allow them to achieve their greatest potential,” Fetrow said. “I'm grateful to the search committee and to the Board of Trustees for their hard work on the search and for the confidence they have expressed in me.”

After graduating from Albright, Fetrow went on to Penn State’s College of Medicine, where she earned a Ph.D. in biological chemistry. Over the course of her academic career she has published more than 80 articles and presented her research at more than 30 conferences. Fetrow’s work has been supported by the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation and the American Chemical Society, and she has served on numerous advisory boards.

Fetrow is the recipient of several awards and honors, including several teaching awards as well as Albright’s Distinguished Alumna Award and Young Alumna Achievement Award. She will bring a deep familiarity with Albright to her new role: In addition to the time she spent on campus as a student, Fetrow was named an Albright trustee in January 2015, though she is currently on a leave of absence from the board. Her mother, Millie Fetrow, was a 1958 graduate of the College.

“As an Albright alumna, I have experienced for myself how a strong Albright liberal arts education can establish a foundation for a graduate degree and a career in both commercial and educational venues,” said Fetrow.

John R. Pankratz, professor of history and a member of the presidential search committee, noted that Fetrow stood out among a field of candidates that included sitting presidents and provosts.

“Her experiences as a scientific researcher and author of scores of articles, her rise through the classroom teaching ranks to tenure, her creative entrepreneurship on the frontiers of biomedical research (and the experience of running a business), a chaired professorship and deanship at a top-30 research university, the provostship at a top-tier liberal arts college, and the gifts of intellectual curiosity, skillful communication, strategic vision and humane understanding that have sustained those achievements made Jacque the very best candidate for the Albright presidency that we could imagine,” Pankratz said. “That she is also a living demonstration of the power of an Albright education and that she knows and loves Albright – well, that's beyond our imagination. This opportunity was simply compelling.”

In 1999 Fetrow co-founded GeneFormatics, Inc., a biotechnology firm that leveraged genomic data to predict protein structure and function. She is the co-holder of five patents – one earned during her four-year tenure as GeneFormatics’ chief scientific officer and the others resulting from research with collaborators at Wake Forest.

“Her vast educational and distinguished business experiences combined with her passion for liberal arts education will afford Albright the opportunity to be innovative with new ideas and reflect on best practices while keeping true to its historic mission of ensuring access for students and the liberal arts viewpoint,” said Patricia Fitzgerald ’93, president of the Alumni Association board of directors. “I was thrilled to be part of the process to find our next president and am excited for the years to come at Albright College.”

Several members of the search committee echoed Fitzgerald, citing Fetrow’s status as an alumna and her strong advocacy of the liberal arts as compelling factors in their choice.

“One of Jacque’s great aspects is that she, better than any other candidate, could tell Albright's story,” said Roberto Mandanici, assistant professor of accounting. “She has lived Albright's story. She embodies the success that a foundation in liberal arts education can bring to a student, and springboard her to lifelong success.”

“Dr. Fetrow will bring to Albright College an energy and enthusiasm in her leadership that will inspire students, faculty, staff and alumni alike,” added Elizabeth Kiester, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology. “Her dedication to the liberal arts in general and Albright College in particular is infectious. She has a passion for diversity and an understanding of equity that matched no other in our highly competitive pool of candidates. I was particularly moved by these facts. She clearly has the background and expertise to be an effective steward for the College.”

“Albright’s core values align very closely with my passionate belief in the value of a liberal arts education and my dedication to ensuring its access to the broadest range of students of academic promise,” said Fetrow.

McMillan, Albright’s current president, is retiring at the end of May 2017. His departure from the College will coincide with the conclusion of That Their Light May Shine: The Campaign for Albright College, the most ambitious fundraising initiative in the institution’s history. During McMillan’s tenure, the College has undertaken more than $80 million in capital upgrades, expanded academic offerings, enrolled record numbers of students, and enjoyed record fundraising years.

“Under President McMillan’s incredible leadership, the College has made tremendous forward progress in the last decade, and this appointment will allow for a continuation of that great work,” said board chair Jeff Joyce ’83. “With the coming conclusion of the largest fundraising campaign in the College’s history, we all look forward to the future and are blessed to have such an accomplished alum of Albright choose to lead our institution.”

Fetrow likewise praised McMillan, who will have led the College for 12 years by the time he retires next May.

“President Lex McMillan has laid a solid foundation for Albright's future, and I am thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to continue to build upon that foundation,” she said. “I am very excited to begin.”

“There are times when people and places are in the right alignment,” Phillips said. “Jacque Fetrow is the right person for Albright College. She will continue to build on the success established under the tenure of President Lex McMillian. Jacque will carry on Albright’s mission and enhance Albright’s prominence as a leader in liberal arts education.” 

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Founded in 1856, Albright College is a selective, national liberal arts college enrolling 1,800 full-time undergraduates and more than 800 adult learners and graduate students. The College’s flexible interdisciplinary curriculum, strengthened by a close-knit residential learning environment, encourages students to combine majors and disciplines to create individualized academic programs. Close faculty mentorship, numerous experiential learning options, and a diverse, supportive community of scholars and learners help students exceed their own expectations and graduate with a commitment to a lifetime of service and learning. Albright College is located in Reading, Pennsylvania.