A view from the middle of the summer
Dear Albright friends and colleagues,
I hope that you are relaxing and appreciating the enveloping heat and humidity of the central PA summer. Last week, I heard a radio advertisement from a local orchard stating that the Lodi and Transparent apples were now ready to be picked—and I knew that I was back in PA! When the Lodi and Transparent apples ripened, my mom and I would always go to an orchard to pick the apples, then take a day to make and freeze the applesauce.
Last week, I had the opportunity both to attend the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents Institute and to participate as president in my first Albright College Board meeting—the annual summer Board retreat. What a busy week! I learned much—from other new presidents at Harvard, from our Cabinet (as we prepared for the Board retreat), and from the members of our Board of Trustees.
As many of you heard in the late spring, Albright did, indeed, miss its enrollment target for this fall, as did many, many other schools from Pennsylvania and across the country. The Cabinet has worked collaboratively to develop a creative plan to move us through this challenging year. In our conversations and decision-making, we have committed to the goals of prioritizing the success of our students and the thriving of our community. I recognize the angst that is caused by missed enrollment. I am committed to work with the community to move us through this time and beyond.
Beyond the enrollment angst, leadership transitions are also trying times—change causes uneasiness in each of us. One of the goals of my Year of Listening and Learning is to help us learn about each other more quickly. I’m eager to meet with the staff in small groups this summer, and I very much appreciate the enthusiastic response to our call for sign-ups. I am looking forward to conversations with each of you. This fall, we will be continuing dialogs with staff and will be developing additional venues for conversations with faculty, students, alumnae/alumni and Reading community members, as well.
In one of my recent conversations on campus, I was asked an interesting question: “I’ve heard a lot that the main part of a president’s job is fundraising—would you agree?” I share my answer, as it may give you insight into my leadership values: “Fundraising is one part of the president’s role. My job includes collaborating with the community to develop a shared vision and shared aspirations; supporting and fostering the community’s work to implement the shared vision and aspirations; and then developing and implementing a sustainable financial model (including fundraising) which will support the shared vision and aspirations.”
Recently, I had breakfast with our wonderful facilities crew, which included the opportunity for me to cook and serve scrambled eggs and scrapple. These hard-working team members are responsible for the improvement and maintenance of our beautiful grounds and the prepping of dorms for arrivals (whether those arrivals would be students or campers and conference attendees), among many, many other duties. During my conversations, I have learned more about why people enjoy working for Albright, which has heightened my enthusiasm to be a member of this community.
I look forward to fall and the return of our students and the vitality they bring to campus. Until then, I wish you much joy and relaxation.
With best regards,