Donor Impact Report | Albright College

Donor Impact Report

Highlighting the positive impact of your philanthropy on Albright’s students today.

Lions roar because of you.

During this ongoing pandemic, Albright’s alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff have generously

responded to the call for support. Whether it was toward planned initiatives or to help immediate

needs, we’re so grateful to all who keep the college among your philanthropic and volunteer priorities.

Your continued partnership allows for our students’ success!

Thank you!

Wendy Parsons, CFRE

Vice President for Advancement

 

 

View the Fall 2020 Donor Impact Report (pdf file)

Your Albright College is not standing still even while the pandemic continues to challenge the world. In February 2020, just before the pandemic changed our world, our Strategic Vision outlined institutional priorities and identified core areas designed to engage, energize, and focus our efforts to support student success. Through your generosity, engagement, and volunteerism, you have joined us in this significant work, and I thank you!

Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, the Albright community contributed $3,753,513 to the college during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. We also secured an additional $1,521,147 in government grants, bringing our total raised to $5,274,660. (Note that this total does not include pandemic funding received from the Federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.) To say that our students, parents and guardians, faculty, staff and community members are grateful would be an understatement. Your actions are lifting up our Albright Lions.

With your gifts, we are helping talented students achieve the best education, supporting them to reach beyond the artificial barriers we all set for ourselves. A few highlights include:

Retaining talented students through financial support: To raise funding for students facing financial hardship in their sophomore, junior and senior years, Jeff ’83 and Cindy Joyce provided a matching challenge leadership gift to help create endowed Advancing Lives Scholarships. To date, $5.4 million has been raised toward the initial $10 million endowment goal, and an additional $415,000 has also been provided by generous donors for immediate impact use. So far, 26 scholarships have been awarded to more than 70 students. Amazingly, the majority of those students have progressed academically or graduated!

Focusing on student success: Fundraising to transform Gingrich Library into our new Student Success Commons & Library continues to be our top priority. So many of you have contributed, resulting in more than $10.4 million towards our $16.5 million goal! See page six of this report for more details.

Changing education at the community level: With the support of the Conrad Weiser School District, the Science Research Institute (SRI) moved to Albright in February 2020 and is bringing Berks County middle and high school students to campus to experience research in STEM fields and beyond. A ribbon cutting was held in November at SRI’s temporary space at 11th and Rockland Streets. SRI’s after-school, summer and dual enrollment programming will expand and diversify Albright’s revenue sources. Fundraising to transform Albright’s Camp Building into a new home for SRI has commenced.

Without you and the generosity of so very many, we could not support student success, reimagine our facilities, deepen ties with the community and accomplish so much more. The following pages include inspirational stories about alumni whose lives have benefitted from their experiences at Albright, and how their gifts to their alma mater are impacting today’s students and programs.

Thank you for all that you do for Albright. I look forward to seeing you on campus or perhaps in your area during this next year.

With deep gratitude,
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Albright students require interactive learning environments and built-in tools for digital scholarship in their library, whether to study, complete research, write papers or make social memories. A fount of knowledge and a catalyst for learning since 1964, Gingrich Library is in the next phase towards transforming into the Student Success Commons & Library — a 21st century technology-infused academic hub. In addition to dynamic, flexible learning spaces, the redesign will establish the library as a full-service educational center with all student success initiatives and academic learning services under one roof.

Karen A. Campbell, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, has been co-leading the initiative and the Library Vision Team with Albright President Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82 since 2019.

“Having a welcoming, inclusive academic center that supports emergent technologies along with the many different ways in which our students learn, study, research and engage with peers, faculty and staff is critical to our students’ academic success,” said Campbell.

Donor support for re-envisioning the library has been essential in realizing this capital project with more than $10.4 million raised toward the $16.5 million goal. The Advancement team continues to work with donors on naming opportunities such as the Joyce Academic Learning Center, gift of the Joyce Family Foundation, and the Falcone Center for Student Success, provided by the late Albert Falcone, M.D. ’41.

Prospective college students and their parents will have an inspiring first visual impression of Albright as they start their campus tour right from the state-of-the art library where the Admissions Office will be located. Centrally positioned among Albright’s 118 acres, the library will offer students quick access to tutoring, academic coaching, accessibility and retention support services. Students can also explore careers, majors and hands-on learning opportunities in the Experiential Learning and Career Development Center.

The Griffiths History and Cultural Center, a gift from Jean and Jeffrey Griffiths ’73, will be the home of the college’s special collections including the historical archives, the Nolan local history collection, the Lakin Holocaust Resource Center and the Black Cultural Collection and Resource Center. Connecting students in history classes closer to the museum level collections, the classrooms, research spaces and faculty offices will be adjacent to the center in the Schultz History Department Suite, provided by Michele Alfiero Schultz ’86 and John Schultz ’86.

Integral for professional communication and success, elevating the writing ability of students has always been tightly woven into the Albright educational experience. The Patty Parker Molnar ’69 Center for Writing Excellence, a gift from Patty and her husband, Attila, will include writing program tutors, learning and study spaces, and English composition faculty offices (see next page for more on the Molnars’ gift).

Thank you to the many donors who contributed $10.4 million toward the $16.5 million goal to transform the library!

Reading and writing have always been central to Patty Molnar ’69.

As a child who loved to read, she developed a deep appreciation for writing — a process she calls “a craft.” As an English major at Albright College, she further developed her writing skills while embracing the study of literature, poetry and other subjects. Her liberal arts background has served her well.

After graduation, Patty embarked on a successful career doing promotional work for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Houston Symphony, positions that required a great deal of writing. While working in Houston, she met her future husband, Attila, who was born in Thalmassing, Bavaria, Germany, and holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Erlangen University. After they married, the couple moved to Germany twice for Attila’s job with Bayer AG, spending more than a decade there.

“When we lived in Germany, I wrote to stay in touch with people at home,” Patty said.

Her travels only deepened her appreciation for writing and poetry and, while living in Germany, Patty made it a point to learn the language. After returning to the United States, where Attila would finish his 30-plus-year career with Bayer as president of Bayer North America, Patty embarked in various charitable endeavors, where once again her writing skills proved useful. She also reconnected with Albright when she was invited to tour the campus.

“I had lost touch with the school, and I was thrilled to be invited to come to the campus and reconnect,” Patty said. “I was impressed with the quality of the campus and its programs.”

She stayed in touch with her alma mater following the tour, and in appreciation of the education she had received there, Patty and Attila decided to make a gift to the college. Recalling the many hours she had spent in the library as a student, they decided to contribute toward a project under way to transform Albright’s Gingrich Library into a new Student Success Commons & Library. A team led by college President Jacquelyn Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82 has been working since fall 2019 on plans for a 21st century library designed to bring together students, faculty, skilled professionals, information resources, high-end technology resources and student support services.

“Dr. Fetrow explained the plans for the new library to us, and we were so impressed,” Patty said. “I consider a library to be the center of a college campus, and we recognized there’s a strategy in place to update the library so it will be just that.”

Patty was especially interested in one aspect of the project— a Center for Excellence in Writing that will be housed on the third floor.

“I was elated to hear the new library would include a writing center,” she said. “We decided to focus our funding there, and I’m honored that my name will be on the center when it opens.”

Molnar’s investment in the new writing center will create a central location for teaching and learning writing skills, something that remains close to her heart. She hopes the center will foster a love of writing in students and help them learn to express themselves through the written word.

“It cannot be overstated that the ability to communicate using good grammar, an extensive vocabulary, and imagination is essential to good communication in business and private life,” Patty said. “I hope the center helps to improve the abilities of many students to express themselves in a cogent, grammatically correct and thoughtful manner.”

The Student Success Commons & Library, including the Patty Parker Molnar ’69 Center for Writing Excellence, will greatly contribute to the success of Albright Lions.

Grateful for the firm foundations Albright College helped them build, Robert Johnson, M.Div. ’91 and Charnita Zeigler-Johnson ’92 gladly provide support in various ways.

“Albright is a very special place to me,” said Charnita, who has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2018, serving as chair of the Academic Affairs Committee. “I’m happy to giveback to an institution that has given me so much.”

Charnita also is the recipient of a Distinguished Alumni award and a member of the Albright Society of Black Alumni (SOBA), while Robert was Albright’s invited baccalaureate speaker two years in a row and recently received a Distinguished Alumni award. In addition to giving their time, the couple contributes to the college’s Advancing Lives Scholarship, an initiative that supports the education of students of academic promise.

“The burden of student loans makes scholarships very important,”Robert said. “Those scholarships may be the difference between someone being able to stay in college or having to drop out.”

With a son and a daughter of their own currently in college, the couple understands the struggles of some families to keep their children in school.

“As a parent, I definitely understand the importance of being able to afford everything they need while in college,” Charnita said. “If we’re able to help someone reach their dreams, we’re very happy to do that.”

An epidemiologist and assistant professor of population science in the department of medical oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, Charnita said Albright provided the basis for her career.

“Albright set the foundation for me and my career as a researcher,” she said. “I always tell people that my research career began at Albright. In addition to gaining a strong academic foundation, I learned about the resiliency I would need as a researcher, and I learned that I am capable and can achieve my career goals in many different environments.”

While Charnita was preparing for a career as a researcher, Robert was preparing for one as a pastor. Faculty members helped to open his eyes to issues of social justice, a goal he has worked toward during his entire career in ministry that focuses on at-risk youth in Philadelphia. Having benefited from all Albright has to offer, the couple’s goal is to help today’s students overcome obstacles and realize their goals of graduating.

“Helping students make it to the finish line requires guidance, encouragement and financial support,” Charnita said. “How exciting it is to think of new generations of bright, enthusiastic and socially engaged Albright students prepared to make an impact on our world.”

When Robert “Bob” J. Beall ’65 and his wife, Mary Ellen “Mimi” (O’Connor) Beall ’67, established the Beall Scholarship for Study Abroad, they envisioned it would support students with financial need who were interested in not only studying in another country, but also in engaging in service learning while they were there.

Janae Taft ’21 met all the criteria for the Beall Scholarship, which enabled her to spend part of her sophomore year at the University of Ghana, a public school located in Accra, the capital of the West African country. In addition to keeping up with her classes and attempting to learn Twi, an African language spoken in some parts of Ghana, Janae tutored a 14-year-old girl at Play and Learn, an organization for underprivileged children located near the university. She also served as an intern for the West African AIDS Foundation.

The Bealls have a long history of volunteerism themselves, extending back to when they were students at Albright and participated in service projects. Mimi’s experience of volunteering at a pre-school near campus, where she taught two deaf girls, influenced her to pursue a career helping students with special needs.

“That was a wonderful experience for me, and really was the catalyst for what I ended up doing as a career,” said Mimi, who taught deaf children for three years after graduating from Albright with a degree in psychology, and then taught for many years in a special education program at Montgomery Knolls Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland.

She currently serves as a member of the Alumni Association Board and was a member of the Class of 1967’s 50th Reunion Committee. Bob, a biology major who retired in 2015 after 35 years with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, serving the last 21 years as president and Chief Executive Officer, was a trustee of the college from 2004 until 2012, chairing the Academic Affairs Committee and serving on several others.

“We’ve always felt it is important to give back,” Bob explained. “Both of us feel that helping others is a satisfying and important part of life, and that really started for us in college. It’s just become a part of our lives.”

Janae, who said she wouldn’t have been able to afford to study in Ghana without the Beall Scholarship, is grateful for their help. She hopes to travel internationally again, the next time as a missionary. Janae expects to soon become a staff laborer with Disciple Makers, a Christian campus ministry based in State College that has a presence on Albright’s campus. She was involved with the group as a student and plans to continue as a campus ministry staffer, eventually extending her mission work to other countries. The experience she had in Ghana, she said, helped her realize that people are basically the same regardless of where they live, and all deserving of respect and care.

“I went to Ghana because I wanted to learn how other people live and what they were like,” Janae said. “And I learned that we’re all pretty much the same.”

Karen A. Campbell, Ph.D. remembers the moment she realized she would not have enough money to cover expenses during her senior year of college.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said.

She learned of a scholarship fund for students with extenuating circumstances and applied for help. More than three decades later, she still recalls the day she learned she was approved for an immediate need scholarship, enough to assure she could continue her education.

“It enabled me to stay in college,” said Campbell, Albright College’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “I’ve been appreciative of that help ever since.”

That experience makes it extra special to Campbell that a former student created an Advancing Lives Scholarship — a fund that also provides assistance for students with extenuating circumstances — in her honor.

“I was just overwhelmed when I found out he had done that,” said Campbell, who, after teaching biology for more than 30 years still holds the P. Kenneth Nase Chair of Biology endowed position in addition to her administrative roles. “It means so much to me.”

The former student — Bryan R. Wilson, M.D. ’11 — said establishing the Karen A. Campbell, Ph.D. Advancing Lives Scholarship was an easy decision. Wilson took several classes with Campbell and the two established a relationship, remaining in close contact.

“Dr. Campbell is one of the best and the whole motivation for what I did,” said Wilson, a physician at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem. “She’s had a huge impact on dozens and dozens and dozens of students, especially those going into the medical field. It was a no-brainer to me that she should be recognized for everything she did to support us.”

When Wilson encountered some difficulties with a class during his first year in medical school, he knew who to turn to.

“My first ask for help wasn’t to anyone at the medical school, it was to Dr. Campbell,” he recalled. “And she was there to help, just like she always was.”

Wilson received scholarships for college and medical school that made costs far more manageable and enabled him to concentrate more fully on rigorous academics and clinical experiences. Being able to pass along those benefits to other students is a satisfying feeling, he said.

 

Were it not for the Albright Creative Research Experience (ACRE) project he completed last summer in partnership with English Instructor Marian Frances Wolbers, Katsuto Sakogashira ’21 doesn’t believe he would have had the courage to apply to the National Theater Institute, a highly competitive training ground for artists at which he was accepted for the fall 2021 semester.

“The ACRE program not only gave me affirmation that what I am doing is worth something — it helped me be courageous enough to apply to the National Theater Institute in California,” said Sakogashira, a theatre major who is known to most people as “Sako.”

Sakogashira, who grew up in Japan and attended college in California for a year before coming to Albright, partnered with Wolbers on an ACRE project titled “The Doors that Shut: Finding Japan through Theatre.” During the course of the project, each worked to help develop a stage play the other had written. Both plays are set in Japan, and through the lens of Japanese culture and language explore social problems such as sexism in patriarchal society and a hyper-competitive education system.

Sakogashira and Wolbers met when he enrolled in her class, Uncovering Fashion. They discovered they had quite a bit in common, as Wolbers had been a high school exchange student on the Japanese island of Kyushu, where Sakogashira grew up.

“We connected quite easily since he is from Kyushu, and we both speak Japanese,” Wolbers said. For Sakogashira, Wolbers has provided a calm and steady presence. “Professor Wolbers is always there for me,” he said. “She understands whatever I talk about better than most of my American friends because she has a better idea of the culture I was brought up in and understands how it’s different from U.S. culture. I was very happy to get the ACRE scholarship and have the opportunity to work with her.”

Receiving an ACRE stipend for a student like Sakogashira is huge, Wolbers said, because it recognizes him for the work he’s already done and provides inspiration for him to move on to even bigger things.

“It’s incredibly important to be funded and recognized as a budding artist,” Wolbers said. “Just one stipend of this sort can mean the difference between forever standing still as an artist or shooting forward like the star you’re meant to be.”

Without the stipend award and the opportunity to partner with Wolbers on the ACRE project, Sakogashira believes he would not have discovered the passion he has for play writing and would not have been accepted into the National Theater Institute’s Advance Playwriting program, which he is attending as a post graduate student.

Nearly 30 years after graduating from Albright College, Brad Erdman ’93 remains grateful for his experiences as a student that shaped his life and were instrumental in helping him to succeed.

“Albright prepared me for my career because the credibility of the college enabled me to land a job with atop insurance company shortly after graduation,” explained Erdman, who is vice president for claims at Kentucky National Insurance Company in Lexington. “Long term, Albright provided me with so much more. The faculty, curriculum, and even my friends challenged me socially, athletically and academically to be a better person.”

To express his gratitude, Erdman, an Alumni Association Board member, made a gift to Albright in the form of a challenge grant to generate contributions at the President’s Council level of at least $1,000. For any donation of $750, Erdman contributed $250 to raise the gift to the level of President’s Council.

Rainer Floeter ’14 and his wife, Danielle (Hassard) Floeter ’15, who live in Philadelphia, accepted the challenge.

“We saw a flyer about the challenge grant and decided we would go for it,” Rainer said. “We both loved our time at Albright and the education we got set us up career-wise, so we thought this was a good opportunity for us to give back.”

Both varsity swimmers while at Albright, the couple returns to campus to cheer on the team, when possible. They remain in touch with their former coach, John Stuhltrager, and many of the friends they made while on campus.

“Our entire wedding party was friends from Albright,” said Rainer, a product manager at Penn Interactive, the digital arm of Penn National Gaming, Inc., working on the popular online gambling app Barstool Sportsbook & Casino. “We still have a lot of connections there.”

Erdman, who also visits Albright when he returns to Reading to visit his best friend, Scott Hunsicker ’92, general manager of the Reading Fightin’ Phils, was prompted to make the gift when he realized that although he was involved in his community, he hadn’t done much for his alma mater.

“I realized I was giving my time and money to community organizations, but I wasn’t doing much for the college I loved so much,” he said. “It was time for me to show my appreciation for the place that did so much for me.”

Erdman and the Floeters said it’s important that Albright students and prospective students have access to the same quality education and activities they did. They applaud the college’s diverse campus wheres students from many backgrounds and experiences have access to academics, athletics, theatre, music and other opportunities.

“Albright shaped who we are, in our careers and as people,” said Danielle, a nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

For Erdman, supporting Albright is a show of gratitude.

“If you feel like you’re blessed with the life you have, what better way is there to express that than to make sure kids can have the same opportunities you’ve had?” he asked.

To say that Gabrielle Spracklin ’21 enjoyed a busy college career would be an under statement.

Spracklin, who graduated in December with a degree in business administration/finance, exemplified the best of Albright’s brand of student-athlete. A four-year member of the varsity women’s lacrosse team, her name appeared regularly on the Dean’s List. She was a member of the Dearden Honor Society, an organization for business majors who maintain a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher. In her role as vice-president of community functions, Spracklin helped organize a program promoting healthy lifestyles to students at a Reading elementary school, an undertaking she called “time consuming and very rewarding.”

She held down a campus job while completing several internships, one which led to a full-time employment opportunity with a wealth management firm after graduation. A member of the Business, Accounting and Economics Club, she also served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. All in all, Spracklin said, her four years at Albright College provided opportunity for tremendous growth and learning.

“I loved being a student-athlete and learning to balance the academic and athletic loads,” she said. “And I was able to take a leadership role with the honor society and participate in a project that was really meaningful to me. It’s been a busy four years, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

She could not have accomplished all that she did, Spracklin said, without the benefit of an Advancing Lives scholarship.

“I was committed to keeping my grade-point average at 3.5 or above every semester and to doing my very best on the lacrosse field. Not having to worry so much about working was a great stress reliever that allowed me to fully participate in the college experience,” she explained.

Spracklin said she is thankful to everyone who has contributed to Advancing Lives scholarships, and particularly to Jeffrey J. Joyce ’83 and his wife Cindy, who established the Joyce Family Foundation Challenge for the Advancing Lives Scholarship Initiative. The Joyce Challenge was the catalyst that encouraged other donors to establish 26 newly endowed scholarships. She had a chance to meet Jeffrey and Cindy Joyce, Spracklin said, and was impressed with their commitment to helping Albright students.

“I am definitely grateful to all the donors who contribute to these scholarships,” she said. “They’ve helped so many students.”The generosity she has witnessed from Albright donors and benefits she received from the Advancing Lives Scholarship has inspired Spracklin to think about how she may pass along her good fortune to students in the future. She said she would consider a mentoring role or other means of helping.

Reflecting on her time at Albright as graduation was approaching, Spracklin said she will take with her the important lessons of teamwork and collaboration.

“Albright is a small school, and as a student you’re working with others all the time,” she said. “I think that being involved with so many other people really improved my communication skills and ability to interact with others. I’ve experienced a lot of growth during my time at Albright, and I’ll always be appreciative of that.”

It is always wonderful when Albright students and alumni share time together, but it is especially meaningful when students meet the scholarship benefactors who help provide for their education.

On May 15, 2021, Albright College hosted a virtual event titled Care to Lead to thank and celebrate the donors who are making an impact through their generosity. In attendance were student and alumni scholarship recipients, donors or their family members, and Albright staff and leaders including Ron Scheese ’83, chair of the college’s Board of Trustees who established an endowed scholarship with his wife, Katherine ’85.

President Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82 expressed her deep gratitude to those who support Albright students in perpetuity through an endowed fund. She shared how when she was an Albright undergraduate, she greatly benefitted from receiving scholarships. In honor of her parents, she and her partner, Brian Kell, established the Mildred Folk Fetrow ’58 and David E. Fetrow Scholarship.

“You, our most generous donors, are helping Albright to achieve its strategic vision goal of providing a high-quality education that matters, across all student demographics,” said Fetrow, who informed attendees that even with a high percentage of the college’s students receiving scholarships and grants the majority still have unmet financial need.

Endowed scholarship funds aid in filling that need. During the 2020-2021 academic year, Albright awarded $2.5 million from more than 340 endowed scholarships to students of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds to help them afford an outstanding liberal arts education.

Jocelyn Lewis-Johnson ’22 is the recipient of the Amy Leigh Miller Birkbeck ’86 Memorial Scholarship created in Amy’s honor by friends whom she formed a close relationship with while a student at Albright.

“Your investment to Albright is not just to the school, but to the students like me who want to become more for their families, communities and themselves,” said Lewis-Johnson, a business administration major with a minor in political science.

Amy’s father, Herbert Miller Jr. ’61 — who, with his wife, Jan ’62, regularly contributes to their daughter’s scholarship — spoke about how rewarding it is for them to meet students who benefit from the fund.

Trustee Emeritus Andrew Maier II, custodian of his parents’ scholarship fund, spoke about how his musically talented parents —William ’31, a former Albright College Board of Trustee member and singer, and accomplished pianist Ruth — created the fund to help Albright students earn an education in music or business.

“Unfortunately, I never met William and Ruth Maier, but I’m grateful to be able to get to know Andy,” said Maier scholarship recipient Matt Zimmerman ’22, who is a music industry studies major. “The scholarship I received has come from a couple passionate for music, which makes this gift so much more special and meaningful.”

The event included a musical performance by Albright choral ensembles and the premiere of a newly commissioned musical piece just for Albright College, composed by B. E. Boykin. The composition, “Holding the Light,” was made possible through a gift from scholarship benefactor Jane Masters Nase, who was in attendance.