Updates from the Board Chair
June 23, 2020 Update
Dear Albright College community,
Greetings from the board of trustees! I write to you today in what I hope establishes a new tradition at Albright – an update from the board chair following each of our meetings. Given our current situation and our priority to ensure the health of all members of the Albright community, our most recent meeting on June 18 and 19 was held via video conference.
The board of trustees, which provides leadership and oversight to the mission, values and strategic direction of the college, is responsible for asking the hard questions about strategic direction; questions that may have implications decades from now. Board meetings provide regular opportunities for trustees to engage on the key issues and challenges facing the college. In February this year, we endorsed the Strategic Vision Paper, which lays out a strategic vision for Albright College. This strategic vision is a commitment to build a sustainable financial model that focuses on students and their needs, and the thriving well-being of our entire community. There is plenty of work to do to realize our collective vision.
When a global health crisis impacts every element of the college’s operations and threatens the ability to carry out the mission, it is no small task to respond in a timely and decisive manner. First and foremost, the health and safety of the entire campus community has been and continues to be Albright’s number one priority. Discovering ways to serve those students who have entrusted their education to Albright and simultaneously caring for the faculty and employees whose professional lives and livelihoods have been disrupted required much creativity and innovation.
For the past several months, the board of trustees regularly engaged with the administration through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to carry out the college’s mission in pursuit of its vision. During our board meeting, we examined a multitude of actions, heard numerous heart-warming stories, reviewed financial relief package requirements and discussed considerations and alternatives for a return to campus in the fall.
The board is deeply grateful to the students, faculty, essential workers, staff and administration for coming together and exemplifying the values and can-do spirit of the Albright community under extraordinary circumstances. Despite the challenges, your character and commitment to our values and foundational purpose were unwavering. Attached to this message is a motion approved by the board expressing appreciation and recognition for the college community. We hope you feel a sense of pride in that which you have been able to accomplish. You have our admiration and gratitude.
While the college navigated the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Albright also made strides towards its long-term vision. Listed below are some events and actions discussed at our board meeting:
- Approved a new co-major in public policy and administration and a new minor in music production.
- Adopted a capital budget for fiscal ’20-’21 and approved a spending authorization allowing the college to operate during the summer while a final ’20-’21 operating budget is completed, evaluated and approved. A significant number of unknowns remain as plans for next year continue to emerge. The college will continue to be conservative with its financial projections as we navigate these times.
- Welcomed three new members to the board: Dawn Anuszkiewicz, chief operating officer of Reading Hospital; Dr. Karen A. Marrongelle ’95, head of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation; and Michael D. Scales, associate vice president, Office of Business Services, at Temple University. We are grateful for all of our board members who bring great experience in a variety of fields and sectors – all with a passion for higher education and for Albright.
- Recognized Alumni Board Chair Kat Crossley ’11, Faculty Chair Jon Bekken, Student Government President Faith Guzzo ’20 and Board Member Jeanette Roberts ’79 for their service to the college. The board welcomed and heard updates from new representatives Sean Crossley ’11, Alumni Board chair; Ian Rhile, faculty chair; and Dylan Cope ’21, Student Government president.
- Affirmed actions taken to convert Rockland Hall from a management agreement model to a lease model offering the college greater flexibility and control of the residential property.
- Approved ’20-’21 goals for administration to advance the institutional priorities and themes in alignment with the Strategic Vision White Paper. These goals include, among others, commitments to inclusivity and equity; library and other facility planning; and retention and student success objectives.
- Defined the college’s 2020-2021 strategic conversation focus on building a truly inclusive and fully participating community. The board wishes to ensure progress is achieved in our commitment to developing and supporting a thriving, well, equitable and empowered community as expressed in the college’s Strategic Vision. In addition, a board task force on equity and inclusion was created to collaborate with administration and provide expertise, generative thinking and advice.
- Heard an informative, exciting and inspiring presentation about The Science Research Institute at Albright College by Adelle Schade, dean of pre-college and summer programs; Kris Jackson and Jason Morris, co-founders of Cross-Trainer Mixed Reality; A.J. Merlino, director of music industry studies; and Doreen Burdalski, chair of the fashion department.
If you were to ask trustees what they enjoy most about board meetings, I am certain many would highlight the opportunity to interact with the Albright community – faculty, staff, fellow trustees and perhaps most importantly, students. And while the structure of a virtual meeting limits these opportunities for relationship building, I can attest we came away from our meeting energized and inspired by the entire community’s dedication and support for one another during this time. We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to again gather on campus to celebrate with you and work collaboratively to pursue our strategic vision.
Stay healthy, safe, positive, optimistic and resilient!
Ron Scheese ’83
Chair, Board of Trustees