November

A post-midterms, pre-election update from the President

Dear faculty and staff colleagues –

Midterms are over, fall break has come and gone, and there’s (finally) a chill in the air. I’m happy to finally see the bright fall leaf colors, a beautiful benefit of living in southeastern Pennsylvania. Now in the month of November and the second half of the semester, I write to share some updates, including information about the recent board meeting, our Deep Dive strategic planning process, and some thoughts about Election Day.

A couple of weeks ago our board of trustees was on campus for their October meeting. We were excited to welcome three new trustees – Tom Chaves ’85, Bill Murray ’83 and Charnita Zeigler-Johnson ’92.  We were also delighted to celebrate with our trustees the wonderful news of our recent $2.2 million grant from the Department of Education. I echo trustee sentiments, and congratulate and thank all those who were integral to making this grant a reality for Albright: Amanda Hanincik, Rebecca Lemmel, Julia Matthews, Rashmi Radhakrishnan, Rob Seesengood, Joe Thomas, Jennifer Williamson, Charlene Wysocki, our partners, Katherine German and Philip Sbaratta from Development Institute, Inc., and consultant Claire Berardini. Now we get to do the fun work and implement what was proposed in the grant!  This work will have a strong and positive impact on student success at Albright.

During the board meeting, our trustees engaged in an exercise to consider objectives or goals, and to prioritize those objectives, building on our five institutional priorities. We know from my presentations in the spring that the higher education market is being disrupted and that we have much work to do to move Albright boldly into the future. We also know that if we try to do everything at once we will end up doing nothing well.

Each board member was asked to think about our five institutional priorities and answer two questions about each one: what is the most important objective we need to accomplish this year and how will we know we’ve accomplished it? The conversations that ensued were inspiring. This engaging exercise was an excellent way for our trustees to lay a foundation for goal-defining work by cabinet members and other leaders, and I am most grateful for their participation and creative thinking.

This work among the trustees links to our own Deep Dive planning work, which has been ongoing since the summer months. It’s been great to see so many of our community members involved, which I know is above and beyond your daily work. I am grateful to each of you for your participation and creative thinking. The Deep Dive Steering Team will be receiving recommendations from the phase 4 groups by mid-November, and once those recommendations have been received, we will be making decisions about what will move to the next stage of the Deep Dive process. I encourage you to visit the Deep Dive website to learn about the phase 4 priorities and to stay up to date on the progress being made.

The political season is in high swing, and Election Day is tomorrow, November 6. Often, for me, it has been difficult experiencing our current political environment. What does it mean when one group sees another as hateful, just because of skin color, place of birth, religion, gender identity, or political affiliation? What does it mean to want to threaten, hurt or kill another human, just because they believe something different? What do these things mean for our society and for our humanity? From conversation, I know that these times are challenging for many in our community. I encourage each of us to actively practice our Albright core values. Practice the art of active listening – truly hearing and attempting to understand what others are saying. Engage in conversation with empathy and appreciation across differences in backgrounds and experiences. Learning the perspectives of others, understanding differences, and discovering where values align creates deeper insight and meaningful relationships – and is at the core of what our academic learning community is about.

Thank for all you do in support of Albright College and our community.

Best regards,

-Jacque