100% giving sends Fran Kelly ’73 back to school as an Albright student
Fran Kelly ’73 loved his experiences as an Albright undergraduate and returned to enjoy more as a student-for-a-day on April 6, a promise he kept because 100% of his fellow Albright Alumni Association Board members accepted his invitation to donate to the Albright Challenge campaign. The seventh annual Albright Challenge broke a philanthropy record with $199,593 being raised by 930 donors from March 29 to April 1, which included a $1,000 gift from Kelly if the entire board participated.
In total, 30 challenge matching gifts were made by alumni and friends including from Albright Board of Trustees member Thomas Chaves ’85 and his wife, Terry Lynn Clopper, and Sean ’11 and Kat ’11 Crossley, former consecutive chairs of the alumni board. Albright Challenge donations support The Fund for Albright, athletics, and scholarships and financial aid.
“Albright was such an incredible and positive experience in my life. I was treated so well and given every opportunity that ever came along,” said Kelly, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Albright and an M.Ed. in administration and supervision from the University of North Florida. His challenge to the board was driven by knowing how expensive it is to operate a college to provide an outstanding education to today’s students.
“Relying on tuition alone would make it prohibitively expensive, so you need other sources of revenue to balance that out,” said Kelly. Crediting his education for learning how to learn and how to communicate, Kelly retired as owner of Fran Kelly Professional Liability, LLC, in 2013 from nearly 40 years in the insurance industry. After volunteering as a season ticket taker for the Reading Fightin’ Phils, he now works part-time in the sales department for the organization.
A Lion Returns Home
Kelly started his day as a student worker in the administrative offices of Pushman Cottage where he stuffed swag bags for the department of alumni and donor engagement. During the 1970s, the farmhouse was called Sherman Cottage and was a residence hall where senior honors female students lived. He recalled that when he was there to “pull all-nighters” to study for tests, the rule was that he was not allowed upstairs access.
He dashed from this job and arrived at Professor Beth Keister’s Parenting and Technology class in Roessner Hall with a few minutes to spare, commenting that the hustle and bustle of getting to class on time has not changed over the years.
Kelly, who enjoyed Kiester’s engaging teaching style and shared that PowerPoint presentations and white boards were not around in his day.
Lunch was in the McMillan Student Center where he was able to walk freely with his plate and obtain as much food as he could carry, rather than standing in line and pushing a tray down a metal rail and being served measured portions, as was done in his day.
Business management major Kevin Zehner ’22 and business administration major Michael Starkey ’22, who were completing spring internships with Kelly at the Fightin Phils, joined him for lunch. The seniors were surprised to learn that tuition was only $1,800 a year in 1973.
Kelly attended an athletic practice that was not like the sports practices he recalls as a student. Members of the eSports co-ed varsity team showed him how to play the video game Rocket League, whereby manipulating a race car scores points.
“I’m not big on video games,” said Kelly, who was happy to score only once during the practice. “I don’t have anything against them. I’m just not quick enough.”
Residence Life staff gave him a tour of Mohn Hall, which was called North Hall and newly built when Fran lived there and served as a resident advisor during his junior and senior years. During the pandemic, Mohn Hall underwent updates and is now all single rooms with modern study spaces on each floor.
A weekly disc jockey at WXAC who spun vinyl records by Motown and rock artists including Crosby, Stills and Nash while an undergraduate, Kelly enjoyed seeing the latest equipment and meeting station director Mindy Cohen in the Berks Community Media Center.
“It was so much fun for all of us – Fran, the students and myself – to have him visit WXAC. His trip down memory lane was fun, and he was thrilled to see that WXAC not only continues to exist but is a vibrant place where students can be creative, independent and learn simultaneously,” said Cohen, who has been station manager since 2003. “He was impressed by our students, and they were impressed by Fran’s joie de vivre and his Albright spirit.”
Kelly ended his day back at Roessner Hall at the Lion Diplomats monthly student meeting, where he was inducted as an honorary member. The Lion Diplomats work with the alumni office and the Albright Alumni Association Board to seek areas of collaboration between alumni and current students.
“I was just impressed with all of the kids that I met. The kind of kid who I would want to be. I don’t think I was as sharp as these kids!” said Kelly, who, as an undergraduate, was also a Kappa Upsilon Phi brother, a Domino Player, a writer for the college newspaper and helped plan student activities.
-By Dawn Thren
-Photos by Amanda Walck ’14