August is well under way!
Dear Albright friends and colleagues,
August is a time of significant transition in any academic community. Faculty members are finalizing preparations for classroom teaching, learning laboratories, and experiential work. Our colleagues in student affairs, academic affairs and facilities are diligently working to ensure that when our new and returning students arrive, they will feel like Albright is their second home. Our partners in the School of Professional Studies are working toward the next teaching cohort, supporting the success of Albright’s non-traditional students. Coaches, staff, and student assistants are welcoming student-athletes for fall practices. Although enrollment for 2017-18 is essentially complete, our hardworking Admission Office is already well into the process of recruiting the class for 2018-19. And, we are each promising to complete our summer to-do lists before the students arrive back on campus in just a few days.
Thus, it has been in all academic communities of which I’ve been honored to be a member. And, I’m learning, thus it is at Albright.
Last week, Albright received the excellent news that we again have been included in the Princeton Review 2018 List of the Best Colleges of the Northeast—for the 14th year in a row. Students share that the Albright College student body is “welcoming,” “engaged,” and “creative,” and that they come from “all walks of life, all levels of economic status, and a variety of different political and social views.” Albright was also recognized recently, for the third consecutive year, in a national ranking of the top 25 private fashion merchandising schools and colleges. These recognitions represent the best of what Albright is—a community that supports the education and success of students of academic promise, providing an excellent educational experience that helps students achieve the best realization of their aspirations.
As I continue my Year of Listening and Learning, I am appreciating many stimulating conversations with people from all parts of our community. I am learning about the Albright of today, hearing the aspirations of members of our academic community, reinforcing habits of dialog and active listening, laying the foundation for evolving our shared vision and mission, and planning for the future. As many of you are now returning to campus for the academic year, Kathy Cafoncelli will be inviting all faculty and staff to sign up for fall Listening and Learning conversations. These conversations will continue throughout the fall (and likely into the spring). Later in the academic year I will share with you informally what I’ve heard within email communications such as this one and, more formally, as a white paper this spring.
As I shared in my July email, neither our enrollment nor retention met expectations this year. Through the summer, Cabinet members and other colleagues have worked diligently to develop a way to meet this challenge while minimizing the impact on the academic year. This plan was presented to the trustees in July. It will be presented to the faculty at the first faculty meeting of the year on September 13 and shared with staff members in various venues.
Although our solution for this academic year contains no surprises and avoids actions that reduce our ability to complete our academic mission, it is imperative that we work together as a community to develop a sustainable financial model for Albright’s future. To begin this process, I have set up what I’m calling a “Budget Deep Dive,” in which a committee of administrators, faculty, and staff will work together through September, exploring the breadth and depth of the College’s financial environment. This is an essential first step towards evolving a sustainable future for Albright. You will be hearing more about the work of this Budget Deep Dive Team as our work progresses. I am confident in our ability to work jointly to develop a strong and sustainable financial model that will support our common mission and vision.
This is an exciting time—we have the opportunity to build on Albright’s strong foundation of a storied history, excellent and committed faculty and staff, and innovative programs, which demonstrate a long-term commitment to developing the essential skills and habits that students need to work and communicate effectively across boundaries. There is nothing more important in what we do.
I look forward to welcoming back old friends among returning students and greeting a brand-new class of bright-eyed and enthusiastic students—the Class of 2021—who, like me, will be new first-years!
With best regards,