Updates from the Board Chair
Dear Albright College community,
The Board of Trustees met June 1-2 on campus. The June meeting provides a moment for us to pause and reflect on the strategic progress made towards the 2030 strategic plan and establish the goals that will continue to propel us towards our longer term vision. Following is a summary of the many items we discussed during our time together. To learn more, I encourage you to attend the next College Update with President Fetrow, hosted by Anne Coleman, assistant provost, and Miranda Brown, head tennis coach. It will be held on Thursday, June 29 at 10 a.m. both in-person (Student Center South Lounge) and virtually.
In our review of the 2022-2023 goals, we focused on the objectives we achieved and the challenges that arose throughout the year. Suffice it to say, there was much progress and still much more remains that we need to do. The discussions were robust and provided a solid understanding from which the 2023-2024 goals, listed here, could be endorsed.
- Restructure the college’s long-term debt
- Initiate construction projects – SSC&L, public esports facility, Camp Building (if appropriations received)
- Launch SPARK Experience (formerly creativity & innovation)
- Implement Moving the Needle program to increase retention and graduation rates; measure progress and initial effectiveness
- Increase tuition-based revenue streams
- Implement and expand non-tuition-based revenue streams
- Complete evaluation and the implementation planning of academic units within the Albright College structure to be implemented on or before August 2024
As part of our review of the 2022-2023 goals, the Total Learning Experience® (TExpL) team shared with us the tremendous growth they have seen in student programs, educator programs, and community outreach since partnering with Albright College in 2020. We discussed potential opportunities for faculty to learn and incorporate TExpL methodology in classrooms as an approach to expand the already high-impact practices being employed across campus.
Representatives of the Faculty Task Forces on restructure and expense reduction shared the progress of their work since being formed in April as well as a timeline for recommendations and action steps to be shared later in the calendar year. Given the data demonstrating the significant shortfall in the residential college, the Task Forces were asked to consider a more radical base case to stimulate greater thoughts and ideas versus an incremental approach to change.
As part of this examination of the challenges and opportunities of Albright’s academic administrative structure in the midst of a changing market, in conjunction with the demand for additional programming through the TExpL methodology for students of all ages, the board approved a recommendation from the Faculty Task Force on restructure to design and develop a school focused on educational innovation. The idea behind this academic structure is to support the development of programs needed to expand the teacher pipeline, a critical need in K-12 education at this time. The program envisioned will be designed to educate teachers and educational professionals at every level, from undergraduate education instruction through to post-college teacher professional development. Once design and development has been completed a final proposal to create the school will be presented to the board for approval.
We also heard about the college’s work around its institutional position and the packaging of a program based on the framework of creativity and innovation, and the board endorsed the name of the program recommended by the Creativity and Innovation Implementation Team. Albright SPARK, which will be launched this fall, includes the following core components:
- The Fourth Hour
- Scaffolded General Education Curriculum
- Student-driven learning experiences such as The Experience Program, Albright Creative Research Experience (ACRE), study abroad (ex. Global Scholars), internships, and student leadership and on-campus employment
In addition to the 2023-2024 goals, the board took action to approve the following:
- The 2023-2024 capital budget
- The promotion of Laura Gelety, Ph.D., from assistant professor to associate professor of psychology, and Lisa Hain, Psy.D., from assistant professor to associate professor of psychology
- The following new degree programs:
- Sociology degree in three years
- Psychology degree in three years
- Master of Science in Applied Psychology
- Allied health major
- Visual Communication Design co-major
- Cyber Criminology Interdisciplinary major
And finally, during our time together we also said farewell to two long-serving Albright trustees who just completed their terms of service.
Ross Miller ’83 and Bob Ford ’81 have served on Albright’s Board of Trustees since 2011 and 2014, respectively. Ross has served as secretary of the board since 2015, has been a member of the Finance Committee since 2011, and served as chair of Finance from 2019-2022. He also served on the Audit Committee and previously served as chair of PL&E and as a member of the Investment Committee. Bob most recently served as vice chair of the Audit Committee, having served as chair from 2014-2021, and he served on the Finance and Investment Committees. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I thank both Ross and Bob for their exceptional leadership, dutiful service, and commitment to moving Albright forward.
There is so much to be proud of at Albright College. At the same time, there remains much work to be done to secure our future. I look forward to celebrating more accomplishments with you as we strive to achieve our 2030 vision.
The next College Update with President Fetrow will be held on Thursday, June 29 at 10 a.m. It will be held both in-person (Student Center South Lounge) and virtually. I encourage you to attend to learn more about our progress.
With Albright pride,
Ron Scheese ’83
During our time together on campus, the board engaged with presentations on several strategic (and transformational) topics. More than a few contained positive short-term accomplishments and momentum builders while others contained opportunities and highlighted ongoing challenges. Our Strategic Vision and ambitious 2030 goal challenges the entire community to balance and support multiple simultaneous priorities both now and into the future, as summarized below.
· The size and academic quality of the 2022 fall residential class were encouraging, and reflect a return to pre-pandemic performance. Marketing efforts and messaging around the framework of creativity and innovation, a result of our work with the Art & Science Group to reposition Albright College, are making a positive impact. There is correlation between the faculty-initiated strategies and investments implemented in the past few years with growth in targeted majors and students from Berks County.
· Synergies that position our academic units as presenting an ecosystem of educational pathways are critical to the college’s long-term success. Adelle Schade, dean of pre-college and summer programs and director of the Science Research Institute, and Boris Vilic, dean of the School of Professional Studies, provided encouraging progress updates on collaborations.
· Improvements noted from these collaborations resulted in a projected 8% reduction to the budgeted 2023 financial deficit. Although we are only four months into the fiscal year, and one month into the first semester, achieving the updated 2023 forecast would have the college slightly ahead of its 10-year financial model. While 2023 and 2024 are still projected to be our most challenging years in the financial turnaround process, being ahead of plan at this time is progress. Continuing focus to remain ahead of plan throughout the academic year is essential.
· The proposed debt refinancing transaction to provide liquidity for the Strategic Vision is, at the moment, slated to close later this semester. The offering has positive feedback in the bond market to date. Market fluctuations, appraisals, additional analysis and legal reviews have contributed to the elongated timeline. This effort will require some additional board review and approval before finalizing the terms and conditions. We expect this to be completed before we meet again in February.
· The current state of fundraising for the Student Success Commons and Library project was reviewed, and the board authorized the administration to move forward on a plan to break ground in spring 2023, with a phased approach to construction. The Advancement and Communications Committee will continue to work with administration on fundraising strategies to close the gap on total project costs.
· The board began to envision and generate ideas aimed at further advancing the 2030 vision, which included discussion of the Innovation Corridor. The Innovation Corridor concept, which you first heard about from President Fetrow in August, begins to link Albright’s academic reputation with the college’s strategic priority of being an anchor institution in northeast Reading. This ongoing emergent strategic planning process targets leveraging relationships and other sources of funds (government grants, private-public partnerships, non-traditional Albright donors, etc.) to build short-term momentum and long-term success.
During our meeting the board also took action to approve:
o The 2023-2024 Tuition, Fees, Room & Board schedule.
o A comprehensive Intellectual Property Policy. Kudos to those who developed, collaborated, improved and endorsed this policy, which we hope stimulates further creative and innovative work.
o The December 2022 graduates (subject to fulfilling their financial obligations, completing their degree requirements, and final faculty approval).
o Changes to the Faculty Handbook, which adds clarity to Visiting Faculty appointments and makes the documentation consistent with current practice.
o A new Legal Studies co-major.
Our time together also provided the opportunity to welcome and celebrate new faculty members, and to recognize ACRE, SRI and SPS student and faculty accomplishments.
While we are working our way toward achieving our strategic vision, we know that the higher education environment is challenging and there is no single-issue solution that will guarantee success. As a community, we must execute on several simultaneous strategies and priorities – a path forward that requires balancing short-term operating performance with intermediate term investments. This balance will enable the college to strategically reposition itself so that we may continue to educate students of academic progress for the long-term.
This work also requires a community that embraces and is motivated by the challenge. There is much work to be done to secure our future. The board recognizes and appreciates that is a big ask of a community which is tired and still dealing with many day-to-day trials. I leave you with a favorite scripture verse of mine – Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
My hope and enthusiasm were fueled by the Empowering Albright Voices engagement, chatting with ACRE, SRI and SPS students and faculty, the momentum building presentations and the energy around envisioning a creative and innovative future for Albright. I call on you to think about that which sustains and motivates you.
The next College Update with President Fetrow will be held on Thursday, October 27 at 3 p.m. It will be held both in-person (Student Center South Lounge) and on Zoom. I encourage you to attend to learn more about our progress.
With Albright pride,
Ron Scheese ’83
Our Board of Trustees met on June 10 -11 on campus for the first time since our February 2020 session. In the meeting two years ago, the Board endorsed the College’s Strategic Vision, the roadmap around seven strategic themes to achieve our ambitious 2030 goal for Albright. In that same month, the faculty also endorsed the Strategic Vision. This month’s opportunity for the board to convene in person provided a moment for us to pause and reflect on the strategic progress made towards the plan and to approve the goals for the upcoming 2022-2023 year.
At our meeting, we reviewed the 2021-2022 goals, focusing on the objectives we achieved, the challenges that arose, and the work we still need to do. The discussions were robust and provided a solid understanding from which the 2022-2023 goals could be endorsed.
The path forward continues the work that has already begun:
- The Creativity and Innovation framework for Albright’s institutional strategy, which emerged from the efforts of our partnership with the Art & Science Group over the past two years.
- We will drive forward on key construction projects – Student Success Commons and Library, Residence Hall and Esports facility.
- We will continue the progress towards building an equitable and fully participating community.
- We will continue to identify opportunities to improve our business processes and operating systems.
- In keeping with the theme of building our sustainable financial model, three of the college’s goals in the next year contribute to the financial well-being of the college. These goals include increasing both tuition-based and non-traditional revenues as well as managing our long-term debt and liquidity strategy to fund and drive towards our goals.
We know these goals are ambitious, and we know that Albright has been challenged during the early phases of these strategies. Achieving our long-term vision requires that we balance the short-term financial performance, capital spending, fundraising and investment management while operating improvements are implemented to provide a longer-term, secure and sustainable financial model.
We predicted that the 2022-2023 fiscal year would be our biggest hurdle, and while there are promising trends developing across all metrics, the pandemic didn’t make our efforts easier. However, while our results may not be ahead of expectations, they are in line with our original expectations, and that is good news.
During our meeting, the board took action to approve:
- The 2022-2023 operating and capital budgets.
- A debt refinancing transaction to provide liquidity for the strategies aimed at achieving our vision. I had reported on this work in my February update, and we were finally able to approve the terms and a structure which will fund the strategies during the turnaround phase.
- A new Master of Science in Business in the School of Professional Studies.
- A collaborative initiative with the Reading School District, the Total Learning Experience® Academy through the Science Research Institute.
Our time together also provided the community the chance to come together and celebrate Albright and the many dedicated people who have given so much to our institution. On Friday afternoon we honored Terrence and Robin Curtin, Jeffrey and Jean Griffiths, Chris and Ann Kraras, and the late Stephen Menyhart during a special ceremony at Founders Wall, where their names have been engraved in recognition of their vision, leadership and generosity.
On Friday evening, we recognized Board members who had completed their terms of service since we last met. We honored Nancy Dettra and John Broadbent with Board Emeriti status, and Jeff Joyce with Chair Emeritus status. We celebrated Kathy Cafoncelli’s service to Albright with the naming of an Advancing Lives Scholarship in her honor. We recognized those who serve on the Faculty Executive Committee and the Shared Governance Task Force. We highlighted those staff and faculty who have been promoted, and we celebrated our new Board members who joined since our last in-person meeting.
The celebrations were invigorating, and it is my hope that the energy on campus and in that room carries through to the strategic work still to be done. There is so much to be proud of at Albright College. At the same time, there remains much work to be done to secure our future. I look forward to celebrating more accomplishments with you as we strive to achieve our 2030 vision.
The next College Update with President Fetrow will be held on Thursday, June 30 at 10 a.m. It will be held both in-person (Student Center South Lounge) and on Teams. I encourage you to attend to learn more about our progress.
With Albright pride,
Ron Scheese ’83
Dear Albright College community,On February 11-12 we held our second meeting of the board of trustees for the 2021-2022 academic year. Although the pandemic kept us virtual once again, we were grateful for several opportunities to engage in campus life, including the inspiring and thoughtful talk by Harvard professor Tony Jack and the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting of Jake’s Place. It was an extra special treat to hear outstanding live performances – the first on “The Garage” stage – by students Olivia Trace, Anthony Hendricks, Adrian Lopez, Kyle Zayas, Nyjeria Farley, Michael Gruber and Frankie Hagen.
On our first day, we spent time with the Art & Science Group (A&S) learning about the data resulting from research of prospective students – inquiries and accepted applicants – and the recommendations the A&S Group has developed to help us further shape and define Albright’s institutional identity. While some aspects of the facts and findings are sobering, we were encouraged by the professionals from A&S who noted the significant potential opportunity facing Albright. One member from the A&S team noted that the “collaboration of the faculty and staff and their openness to ideas have made working with Albright one of the best experiences they have ever had.”
The board strongly endorsed the report by the A&S Group for a positioning framework focused on creativity and innovation, and the need to move swiftly to implementation of the recommendations. It is important to note that this work is not just about marketing. It is about evolving our academic and co-curricular programs and it will have direct impact both on the actual, lived experience of our students and on our marketplace position. It requires urgency, prioritization, and the entire Albright College community – including the board of trustees – working together to clearly demonstrate in our commitment, in our actions, and in our messaging, just how transformative the Albright experience is.
Our second strategic discussion focused on maintaining the balance between operations performance, capital spend, debt financing, fundraising and investments as the college continues to work diligently in pursuit of its strategic vision. While some projects can be done in partnership (i.e. new residence hall, esports facility), the college must also increase its debt capacity and prioritize additional investment opportunities to accelerate the Student Success Commons and Library project and Camp Building enhancements. Albright is working with an underwriter in that regard and the Finance Committee of the Board has been analyzing proposals to find the proper terms and framework for best positioning our balance sheet moving forward. Our time together provided the opportunity to engage the entire board, not just the committee, in this important strategic work.
In addition to our robust discussions about the work of Art & Science and debt/investment management, a few highlights from our board meeting also include:
- A Lion Spotlight, which featured a presentation by Adelle Schade, dean of pre-college and summer programs, about the Science Research Institute (SRI) and the many ways this creative, innovative program is fulfilling the needs of school-age children and teachers in Berks County and beyond.
- Approval of faculty promotions and tenure – Congratulations to the following faculty members:
- Promotion to Full Professor: Arcana Albright (French), Matthew Garrison (Art and Digital Media), Christian Hamann (Chemistry), Katherine Lehman (Communications), Paula Trimpey (Theatre and Fashion)
- Tenure and Promotion: Lennie Amores (Spanish), Michael Armato (Political Science), Erin Ventresca (Biology)
- Recognition of the years of service provided by Kathy Cafoncelli, chief of staff, to the board. Kathy’s last day at Albright College before heading into retirement was on Saturday, Feb. 12. The board invited her back to our June meeting activities where we hope to honor and celebrate her in person.
- And, of course, our regular fiduciary and governance responsibilities. This included the approval of a preliminary, partial 2022-2023 capital budget to allow for preparation work and ordering of materials to avoid supply chain delays in the summer, and upon recommendation of the faculty, approval of:
- Commencement speaker, Chief Judge Roger Gregory, for an honorary degree
- New undergraduate majors in the School of Professional Studies in interdisciplinary studies and addiction
- New graduate majors in the School of Professional Studies in applied psychology and athletic leadership
It was evident during this February board meeting that there is so much to be proud of at Albright College. If you’d like to learn more, I encourage all faculty and staff to join President Fetrow for the next College Update to hear about progress on achieving the college’s Strategic Vision. Join in-person or virtually (link to come) on Tuesday, March 1, from 2-3 p.m. in Klein Lecture Hall.
During our meeting, the board also recognized that Albright’s most important resource – our faculty and staff – are going above and beyond every day to support our students and to move Albright forward. The last two years have been challenging and, in many ways, exhausting. Unfortunately, we are not quite out from under the burdens of the pandemic just yet. It is with great appreciation and admiration that we recognize the dedication and commitment of each of you that has enabled Albright to not only survive during this pandemic, but to thrive as we have moved significant projects and initiatives forward. On behalf of the board of trustees, THANK YOU for all you do!
With Albright pride,
Ron Scheese ’83
MESSAGE SENT ON BEHALF OF RON SCHEESE ’83, BOARD CHAIRDear Albright College community,
Greetings from your board of trustees! Although we decided to meet virtually again for our October 8-9 meeting, some of us had the pleasure of being on campus in September for Homecoming and during board weekend to see our Lions football team compete in the 70th Annual Pretzel Bowl. It is great to be back on our beautiful Albright campus!
For part of the October meeting, we invited several former trustees, trustees emeriti, and key alumni donors to join us in a discussion about the issues facing higher education and how Albright College’s Strategic Vision is designed to address the needs of our students both today and tomorrow. We also learned from President Fetrow and Cabinet members about the traction that has been made on the Strategic Vision since it was endorsed by the board and the faculty in February 2020.
It was wonderful to engage with these committed Albrightians who care so very deeply about Albright College. We thank them for taking time out of their Saturday to join us and look forward to more conversations as we work to achieve Albright’s ambitious 2030 goal.
A few of the exciting successes shared during this strategic session include:
- The re-envisioning of the library into a new Student Success Commons and Library, a welcoming place that integrates learning, research, and historical collections – $9.2 million has been raised to date toward our $16.5 million goal!
- Albright’s work to enhance and build our nationally recognized academic programs highlighted accomplishments and advancements of theater, fashion, history, English and Alpha programs, and the Science Research Institute (SRI).
- On-going initiatives that support Albright’s work to build an inclusive and equitable This work was presented by Dr. Brenda Ingram-Wallace, who was recently appointed associate vice president for advocacy and full participation. Thank you, Dr. Ingram-Wallace!
Other highlights from our robust virtual board meeting include:
- A Lion Spotlight, which featured a presentation by Dr. Ingram-Wallace, director of counseling services, and Ann Thompson, CBP, SHRM-SCP, director of human resources, on “Pandemic Mental Health Concerns at Albright.”
- A virtual networking opportunity on the evening of Friday, Oct. 9, allowed us to meet and welcome three of our new writing faculty – C. Dylan Bassett, Jaclyn Hilberg, and Lena Ziegler – and learn about the work of five of our student organizations – Admission Ambassadors, Lion Diplomats, Pride Plus, Albright Christian Fellowship, and Black Women’s Leadership Association.
- And, of course, our regular fiduciary and governance responsibilities, which included the approval of:
- The 2021-2022 operating budget
- December 2021 candidates for graduation as approved by the faculty and subject to meeting all criteria necessary to graduate.
- Tuition, fees, room and board for AY 2022-23
- A new undergraduate combined major that supports certification in special education
Finally, the Board approved expanding our development partnership with Mediplex for the purposes of developing and leasing to Albright College a new residence hall targeted for completion in fall 2023. This will meet housing needs associated with enrollment projections and will replace aging facilities that are beyond their economic life. More information to come on this exciting initiative soon!
To the entire Albright community, it was so very evident during this October meeting that there is much to be proud of at Albright College! Significant work to achieve our ambitious 2030 goal is underway, progress is being made, and our mission to educate and support students of academic promise for successful lives and careers is very clear. On behalf of the board of trustees, thank you for the important roles that you play to support our students and to move Albright College forward.
With Albright pride,
Ron Scheese ’83
Dear Albright College Community,
A June board meeting provides the opportunity to catch our breath, to reflect on the past year, and to look forward to the year ahead. It’s a time to reflect on our accomplishments and approve plans for the work that lies ahead for the college, all while maintaining a focus on advancing Albright towards its long-term strategic vision.
During the Board of Trustees meeting last week (June 10-11), we heard a variety of reports and engaged in strategic dialogue around our vision and goals. A key objective for our 2020-2021 academic year was to navigate a pandemic in a manner which kept our community safe, fully employed, and allowed students to take advantage of a residential learning experience. Confronting the pandemic changed the way everything on campus operated; at least for the short-term. This required complete collaboration across the college and demanded constant monitoring and adjustment.
Congratulations, Albright! You rose to the challenge! Despite the pandemic, student retention and success metrics improved, fundraising goals were exceeded, and financial performance was much better than budgeted, as well as improved over fiscal 2020 results. This forward momentum energizes us to continue the pursuit of our 2030 goal:
“A national reputation for closing the gap on education for all students of academic promise – for students who earn an affordable and high quality degree with a strong liberal arts foundation, who are prepared to enter the workforce, who experience significant socioeconomic mobility, and who are prepared to hold fulfilling jobs, across all student demographics (gender, racial, ethnic, first-generation).
This past academic year was also a year of progress towards our institutional priority of developing and supporting a thriving, supportive, equitable, and empowered community.
The work of CITE-C and the Task Force on Race Relations at Albright (TORRA), the engagement of the Society of Black Alumni, the Albright Excellence DEI series, our Racial Healing & Reconciliation panels, and the inaugural Empowering Albright Voices celebration were noted as accomplishments. A highlight was our Thursday evening networking event in which we learned about the impact that the Racial Healing & Reconciliation panels are having on the Albright College community. On behalf of the board of trustees, deepest appreciation to Shawn Barczynski, Chaplain Ibi Bangura, Janice Luck, and students Massiel Del Orbe and Jazer Willis for their leadership, their passion, and for taking time out of their Thursday evening to be with us.
Albright continues to be recognized for top quartile performance in social mobility rankings for national liberal arts colleges by US News & World Report, and at our meeting, we examined the ranking methodologies. The board remains committed to focusing on our mission and vision as the best path forward, which we believe will improve our ranking position over time.
We should all take a moment to recognize and celebrate these 2021 achievements! We are encouraged by the success (especially during a pandemic year), yet we also acknowledge that there is still much work to be done.
To that end, the Board of Trustees approved the college’s 2021-2022 goals, which continue to move us toward our 2030 vision. These goals are focused on:
- Building an inclusive, equitable and fully participating community
- Advancing our student success efforts
- Enhancing our existing revenue streams and developing alternative revenues
- Improving marketplace brand awareness
- Progressing on necessary capital improvement projects
The board also received an update on the preliminary 2022 fiscal budget and will take up final approval of the financial plan over the summer.
Additional highlights from our June 2021 virtual meeting include:
- Welcoming two new members to the board who bring great experience and expertise in a variety of fields: Kristine Hazzard ’83, principal consultant, Katalyst; and Deborah St. Clair Radwanski, executive vice president, Perrotto Builders, Ltd.
- Approval of an investment and operating lease in a warehouse located on Rockland Street to accommodate both long- and short-term storage needs associated with the college’s Student Success Commons and Library complex.
- Engaging in strategic conversations about the long-term sustainable financial model to understand the operational, capital and funding needs of the college over the next decade. This continues to be a work-in-process, but much progress has been made on the ability to incorporate new information into the forecast as results are achieved, new plans are developed and capital projects are integrated into the college’s modeling capabilities.
- Learning about mental health concerns relative to the pandemic by Brenda Ingram-Wallace, Ph.D., director of the counseling center and associate professor of psychology. The connection between access to counseling and academic success was a key point, and we are grateful for the work of Dr. Ingram-Wallace and the Counseling Center staff. It is a tremendous resource for the Albright community.
Best wishes for a summer of reflection and rejuvenation. We look forward to returning to campus and hopefully seeing many of you in-person in the fall.
With Lion Pride,
Ron Scheese ’83
Dear Albright College Community,Greetings from your Board of Trustees! We welcome you back for the spring 2021 semester at Albright College and hope that your first week was a good one!
A week ago today we convened our February 2021 board meeting via Zoom. A year ago, February 2020, was the last time the board gathered for an in-person meeting. Since that time we have continued to meet virtually because we, too, are committed to upholding Albright’s Community Care Compact, and in prioritizing community health and safety. Albright College has been extremely successful in its ability to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and we can achieve this again in the spring if we all continue to do our part to care for ourselves and others in our community.
When we met a year ago, the trustees endorsed Albright’s Strategic Vision, which serves to guide the college in defining and building a sustainable financial model that focuses on understanding its students and their needs, and the thriving well-being of our entire community. Little did we anticipate then the challenges that a global pandemic would present. But over the course of the past 12 months, through many meetings, plans, discussions, changes to plans, more dialogue, steps forward and steps back, the entire Albright community has embodied our values – curiosity, connection, resilience, integrity – in each step forward. This message rang loud and true and was intertwined in each and every discussion at our meeting last week.
Our future is energized by the strengths of Albright as a community of the whole. During our recent meeting, one of our board members noted, “COVID can’t stop Albright! There’s momentum towards hopeful change.” Throughout our sessions, we all sensed that spirit and energy. I’m proud of the college’s valiant response to the pandemic and extremely pleased to report that Albright has also made solid progress towards its long-term vision.
Allow me to share some highlights from our February 2021 virtual meeting:
- Our board includes alumni and community leaders who bring great experience in a variety of fields and sectors. We welcomed three new members to the board: Michael H. Reese ’86, retired, City of Reading; Nancy G. Shores, J.D., vice president global real estate, construction and deputy general counsel, The Bountiful Company; and Peter D. Stanislawczyk, senior vice president of sales, East Penn Manufacturing Company.
- We reviewed reports from across campus regarding improvements in student success metrics, retention rates, advancement efforts, enrollment trends, investment returns and actual financial results as compared to our 2021 budget.
- We engaged in several strategic conversations with regards to the intersection of campus planning, fundraising and financing with a lens toward our goal of what it means to be a truly inclusive and fully participating community.
- In a session led by Adelle Schade, dean of pre-college and summer programs, we learned about Albright’s Science Research Institute (SRI), of which she is director. It was fascinating to learn the many ways in which Albright contributes to the Berks County community through SRI. Many of the programs we discussed emerged because of needs in education brought on in response to COVID-19 challenges.
- And we shared time with the members of the Society of Black Alumni (SOBA) as we virtually journeyed together to learn about Albright’s many efforts and programs to develop a supportive, thriving, well, equitable and empowered community. Deepest appreciation to Jacque Fetrow, Kami Fletcher, Brenda Ingram-Wallace, Beth Kiester, Jeff Lentz, Katy Mangold, A.J. Merlino, Ted Ogaldez, Ann Thompson, Ralia Vardaxis, and Keith Walls for their preparation, taking time out of their Friday night schedule to be with us, but more importantly, for their passion and efforts to move Albright towards realizing its vision.
Curiosity, connection, resilience, integrity – these are Albright College’s core values and these were reflected in every conversation during the course of our meeting time. As I reflected on this over the last week, I gained an even greater appreciation for the Albright community. In order for these core values to be reflected in presentation, they must come from each and every individual – the students, faculty and staff who comprise the Albright community. Thank you all for living our values and for your efforts to navigate the daily challenges of the pandemic while keeping an eye towards our 2030 vision.
Best wishes for a successful spring semester.
Ron Scheese ’83
Dear Albright College community,
Greetings from your board of trustees! Though we wished we could have been on our beautiful campus last week for the October meeting of the board, the health and safety of the Albright community remains a priority, so we again conducted our meeting virtually.
On behalf of the board, I just wanted to say how deeply grateful we are to the students, faculty, staff and administration for continuing to exemplify Albright’s core values and for the can-do, resilient spirit that makes this community such a special place. Through the extraordinary leadership of the Pandemic Task Force, Albright College modeled its COVID-19 response plan within a framework that prioritized the health and safety of our community; honored the importance of the residential learning experience; optimized facility capacity and usage aligned with social distancing and sanitation guidance; and retained employment of all faculty and staff throughout the crisis. And each one of you made a personal commitment to health and safety through the Community Care Compact.
Many colleges have not survived this challenging time, let alone continued to thrive. This truly is an exceptional pride of Albright Lions! Thank you for your commitment and perseverance.
Below, I am delighted to share with you some of the highlights from our robust and exciting virtual board meeting, held October 16-17.
- First, we are pleased to have welcomed new trustee Suzanne E. Anderson, M.Ed., P.C.C., principal of Collaborations Group, Inc. (CGI), located near Washington, D.C., to the board. Suzanne has over 25 years of experience as an executive coach, facilitator, and organizational analyst and has been working with Albright College for the last two years in support of our work to develop and support a thriving, equitable and empowered community.
- An Academic Spotlight featured the transition to virtual learning, presented by Brian Gall, assistant dean of online & digital learning; Dorothy Hoerr, instructional designer; Karen Rodgers, instructional designer; and Laura DePue, director of teaching and learning, Title II Grant. Though many businesses pivoted to a work-from-anywhere environment when the pandemic hit, for a college to transform its methods of instruction and learning, faculty and students must adopt an entirely different approach and paradigm. Thank to you this talented, dedicated team for successfully guiding the Albright College community through this transition.
- A typical board meeting balances fiduciary duties with strategic and long-term discussions. Much of our time was spent discussing the college’s ambitious goal for 2030, as expressed in the Strategic Vision Paper, which was endorsed by the faculty and trustees in early 2020. There was much energy and excitement in the Zoom room as we talked about closing the gap between the Albright of 2020 and the Albright we envision in 2030, and it was heartening to hear about some of the progress the college continues to make toward that objective. It’s also important to recognize that a ten-year plan can’t be accomplished quickly, nor can it be done alone. As they say, “It take a village.” I encourage you to ask yourself what you can do to help Albright College reach its 2030 goal.
- Continuing the conversation about Albright’s Strategic Vision, the board talked about building a truly inclusive and fully participating community, focusing on the challenges and implications of what having “a national reputation for closing the gap on education for all students of academic promise,” as stated in our ambitious goal for 2030, truly means. This is a compelling challenge and will require engagement across the entire Albright community. To appreciate the magnitude of the ambition to which we strive, I highly recommend reading The Merit Myth: How our colleges favor the rich and divide America by Anthony P. Carnevale, Peter Schmidt, and Jeff Strohl.
- Our time together was made more special with a virtual student networking opportunity on the evening of Friday, Oct. 16, in which 23 students engaged with trustees and staff. We shared one-minute elevator pitches and answered questions about career and life after Albright. Virtual meetings sometimes hinder relationship building, but I believe the connections we made will last longer than the time we spent in a Zoom breakout room. My message to all the students was to take advantage of the college’s career planning resources, as well as the faculty and alumni relationships and connections established during their time at Albright.
In addition, the board approved the following at its October meeting:
- The 2020-2021 operating budget
- The college’s 2020-2021 goals to advance the institutional priorities and themes in the Strategic Vision Paper.
- December 2020 candidates for graduation as approved by the faculty and subject to meeting all criteria necessary to graduate. In order to graduate, each student must meet the requirements for their respective degree, be in good standing, and be approved by the faculty and board of trustees.
- Extension of the partnership agreement with Aramark Educational Services for food services to include an upgrade and renovation to Jake’s Place scheduled for 2021.
- A comprehensive policy to streamline and improve the college’s contracting process review and signing authority was adopted.
To the entire Albright community, I wish you much success as you finish the semester strong. Remain healthy, safe, positive, optimistic, diligent, resilient, and encourage other friends and colleagues to remain so as well.
Ron Scheese ’83
Chair, Board of Trustees
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