December – Albright College


The end of the semester has arrived

Dear Fellow Albrightians,

We have come to the end of my first semester as the 15th president of Albright College—and the end of the 2017 fall semester. It is difficult for me to believe that I’ve been here a whole summer and semester so far. Time has gone by very quickly. Frigid temperatures and solid snowfall this month remind me that winter is here and that my home state of Pennsylvania is, indeed, colder than the other places I have lived recently.

Taking a moment to reflect on what we have accomplished in these past six months, I realize how much work we have done: Listen and Learn conversations, Financial Deep Dives, national press coverage surrounding the football team, campus and community-wide celebrations for the inauguration, and our ongoing conversations and collaborative work regarding social and racial injustice. We have had quite a semester and I have learned a lot about the Albright College of today.

Moving forward, our academic and administrative teams are profoundly committed to a set of clearly defined institutional priorities. These priorities, which are outlined below, will guide us as we work to propel our beloved college into the future.

Albright College is committed to…

  • Developing and supporting a thriving, supportive, equitable and empowered community.
  • Establishing a common language and narrative to effectively communicate Albright’s identity and distinctiveness to the world.
  • Supporting student success by evolving and developing our curricular and co-curricular programs focusing on those that define our distinctive strengths.
  • Implementing a solid financial model focused on sustainability and stewardship.
  • Building a robust digital technology infrastructure that promotes effective workflow, data-driven decision-making and the success of our students.

In support of the first priority, our partners, The Collaborations Group, spent a day on campus gathering information from a broad range of faculty, staff and students in late November. Collaborations Group will be returning to campus from January 30-Feburary 2. Two days will be focused on listening and data collection. Some of these appointments will be open drop-in hours. Two days will be focused on skills development and workshops. You will hear more about the schedule and will receive information about signing up early in January.

For the second of the priorities listed above, I have so far had 41 small group Listen and Learn sessions, including 246 staff and administrators. I’ve met individually with 21 trustees and have had conversations with approximately 35 community leaders and alumni. Eight groups of students have had similar sessions with me, some at my house and some on campus. I’m looking forward to continuing this listening and learning process in the early spring, and by the middle of the semester I will be sharing with you what I’ve learned, as a foundation for our going-forward work together.

The Financial Deep Dives have supported the third priority. The Steering Team met for seven half days over a month and a half to do a situation analysis. The Steering Team then created five Working Groups, which have now submitted their first recommendations. The Steering Team and the Working Groups have met to assemble and synthesize the Working Group recommendations. In January, we will move into the third stage, with Working Groups, Study Groups, and additional teams for more focused study and/or implementation.

We have accomplished quite a lot this semester, and now it is time for each of us to take a break, to pause and reflect upon the semester—I encourage your reflection on your achievements, the opportunities, the challenges you have experienced. Such reflection can help you move beyond the daily routine towards a deeper appreciation and understanding.

As I reflect on the last six months, I’m encouraged and excited when I think about the honest conversations I’ve had with our curious and thoughtful students as I’ve gotten to know them. I’ve heard some say that Albright is their home away from home, while others have told me that they do not feel welcomed as a fully participating member of our community. I’ve also seen and felt tremendous enthusiasm about the work that we are doing to give our students a voice. For Albright College to move boldly into the future we must work together to become the inclusive and equitable community that we dream of being. A focus on our institutional priorities will enable us to get there.

I look forward to seeing you during either Interim or spring semester (we have some very interesting Interim classes, including some with trips to Hawaii, Ecuador and Costa Rica). I also look forward to our continued work together—working to build Albright as the inclusive and welcoming community that we imagine it can be.

Best regards,

-President Fetrow