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President's Column
Living in “Interesting Times”

One blessing of being human is that we are not physically able to sustain any emotion for long. I do not mean to make light of the anxiety that just about everyone is feeling in these uncertain times, but a steady dose of crisis headlines creates its own kind of anesthesia—we tend to block out the latest bad news, but it’s easy to overlook good news as well.

I recently received a most encouraging note from a senior expressing her gratitude for having been our guest for dinner. She wrote, “I have enjoyed every minute of my four years at Albright!” Even allowing for a measure of hyperbole, it’s awfully good to know that we will soon be sending this bright and personable young woman out with a very fine education and a heart full of gratitude for her Albright experience. In this age of uncertainty, such encouragement is more welcome than ever.

The results of a recent survey on the importance and affordability of higher education contain more good news, but also some bad news for all who care about making college accessible.

The good news is the growing recognition that a college degree is more important than ever. The bad news is that a steady drumbeat of misleading stories in the media has convinced a growing number of folks that college is beyond their reach. The truth is that college is more affordable than the survey suggests—and the growing number and diversity of high school graduates pursuing a bachelor’s degree supports this. At Albright, about 25 percent of our students are the first in their families to attend college, and many of our students come from families of modest means. The average family income of our students who receive need-based aid is just over $75,000.

Thanks in large part to the media’s fascination with the biggest tuitions it can cite, many families don’t realize that the published tuition (or “sticker” price) is not what most students pay. Private colleges and universities provide generous amounts of financial aid, making college much more accessible than families may think. At Albright, fully 95 percent of students receive some kind of aid from the College. Some of this is in the form of loans and work-study, to be sure, but we are providing nearly $20 million in institutional grant aid to our students this year. Our average institutional grant is $12,317, reducing the posted tuition by more than 40 percent.

Although it’s true that our tuition has increased over the years, our financial aid budget has also increased and more than kept pace. In fact, over the past five years, the rate of increase in aid has exceeded the rate of increase in tuition by four full percentage points.

In these challenging times, Albright continues to work hard to keep our costs down. For 2009-2010, Albright’s price increase will be 2.9 percent, well below the rate of inflation. This means that faculty and staff will forgo any salary increases next year, and will be working to cut expenses and keep our budget balanced. In spite of this, I am delighted by the response to our employee campaign for The Fund for Albright. The campaign is still in progress as I write, but we have already set a new record for participation, with many departments already at 100 percent! Like growing numbers of alumni and other friends, our employees understand that The Fund for Albright is a direct investment in making Albright more affordable for our students.

We are also delighted that growing numbers of students, parents and employers recognize that a college degree is essential to success. Now we want them to know that colleges and universities are working hard to make it possible.

Lex O. McMillan III, Ph.D.
President

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Two New Trustees Appointed to Board

Nanette F. Cutrona ’74 and The Reverend Lorina Marshall-Blake were recently appointed to the Albright College Board of Trustees. They will both serve three-year terms.

Nanette Cutrona '74Nanette Cutrona and husband Salvatore M. Cutrona Sr., former chair of the board, have been generous donors to Albright College as well as to other nonprofits in Berks County. In May 2008 the College dedicated the Cutrona Gateway, which pays tribute to the volunteers who have served as trustees of the College and recognizes the international members of Albright’s community.

Cutrona received a bachelor’s degree in French from Albright in 1974. She was also instrumental in launching Boscov’s corporate travel program and spent 22 years in the travel industry.

As an Albright volunteer, she served on the National Advisory Council for Education and was a member of the Annual Fund Executive Committee. Nanette and Sal Cutrona have two children: Dante, 27, and Salvatore Jr., 22.

Lorina Marshall-BlakeThe Reverend Lorina Marshall-Blake is vice president of government relations for Independence Blue Cross and has 35 years of experience in corporate management, public relations and communications. She serves as an associate minister and is a member of the board of trustees at Vine Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia. She is also a registered lobbyist in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Washington, D.C.

Marshall-Blake is affiliated with more than 30 professional and civic organizations, including the United Negro College Fund, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Federal Affairs Committee and the Governor’s Advisory Committee on African-American Affairs.

She has been named The Philadelphia Tribune’s Most Influential African -American every year since 2005, and Talk Magazine named her the Most Influential African-American in the State of Pennsylvania in 2008. She received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Albright in May 2007.

Marshall-Blake is a graduate of Antioch College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in human services. She received a master’s degree in government policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and is presently studying at the Palmer Theological Seminary in the master of divinity program.

She and her husband, Joseph Patrick Blake, have three children, Julian, Chawnda and Jamila; and one grandchild, Jamile.

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New Arts Administration Program

Beginning in fall 2009, Albright College will offer a program in arts administration through the departments of art, music and theatre, and economics and business. The program is one of the first undergraduate programs of its kind in the region.

In this program, the student will learn about the inner workings of different types of arts organizations, including theatre, dance, music and visual arts, and how to engage both artists and audiences. Students will explore the unique opportunities and challenges that come with managing an arts organization.

Program courses will address making art, the history of art, and how business principles can be used in the arts. An internship is also a requirement. Opportunities with local organizations such as The Goggleworks, Reading Public Museum, and Berks County Arts Council, as well as with summer theatres, music venues, galleries and museums outside of Berks County, are being developed.

Arts administrators are a primary link between the arts and the community. They must be able to communicate the importance of the arts to a community and share that information with their audiences.

The first course to be offered as part of the program, “Introduction to Arts Administration,” is being taught for the first time this spring. Matt Kopans, director of the Center for the Arts, is the course instructor. Kopans said, “In keeping with Albright’s mission to foster a lifetime of service in its students, the arts administration program will give students the tools to help bring the arts to their communities.”

Provost Andrea Chapdelaine added, “Albright’s art, theatre, music, and economics and business programs are of the highest quality. Providing students the opportunity to learn the administrative aspects of the arts will be an excellent complement to these programs. The internship program helps achieve our strategic goals of experiential learning and enhanced outreach to the greater Reading community, while the strong collaboration of academic departments within this program reflects Albright’s commitment to interdisciplinarity and integrative learning. ”

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Tenure and Promotions Awarded to Faculty

At the February meeting of the Board of Trustees, five faculty members were promoted and/or awarded tenure. Congratulations to the following: Guill aume de Syon, Ph.D., history, and Kristen Woodward, M.F.A., art, were promoted to professor. Fouad Kalouche, Ph.D., philosophy; Kennon Rice, Ph.D., sociology; and Gerald Ronning , Ph.D., history, were promoted to associate professor and granted tenure.

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