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Professor Bill Hummel Remembered With a Gift of Sculpture

A gift of sculpture to the Albright campus was dedicated to the memory of Dr. William Hummel, late professor emeritus of history, on October 27. The hand-cut steel sculpture, Tree of Life by Robert “Bob” S. Bolles, is a gift from New York photographer Aaron Rose on behalf of Dr. Patricia Hummel, longtime assistant professor of English and director of the Writing Center, and the Hummel family.

Tree of Life is installed on the grass behind the Administration building near the Library Plaza. Dr. Bill Hummel taught at Albright from 1960 to 1988 and continued as a presence at Albright until his death in 2006, expressing his love of art as an active member of the Freedman Gallery board and writing about the gallery. More than 50 friends and colleagues gathered for the ceremony.

President's Column
Holding the Line on College Costs

The cost of college is a hot topic these days—for students, parents, and college presidents alike. (As both a parent of five and a president, I view the situation from both sides of the aisle!) As we at Albright face the annual task of setting tuition and fees for the coming year, making college affordable without sacrificing academic quality is an issue that looms large.

It’s a complex equation, and one that is often misunderstood.

For example, many people do not realize that Albright, with our relatively modest endowment, relies on tuition to pay two-thirds of our operating costs. Likewise, students and parents often don’t realize that Albright provides generous amounts of institutional aid to nearly every student, which cuts tuition “sticker price” almost in half—an average of more than $12,000 per student.

Colleges like Albright are sometimes criticized for not behaving like a corporation and lowering tuition by simply reducing staff and cutting overhead. But the major portion of college budgets is in our faculty and staff, which are the very heart of our enterprise. An Albright education is designed to be highly personalized. That is what
students and parents value and why they select us. Larger classes (and thus fewer teachers per student) would reduce cost, but it would also fundamentally alter the quality of the learning experience.

Cost containment is also complicated by the increasing demands of the marketplace and new technologies. Students and families expect—and teaching and learning demands—the latest in constantly changing technology, as well as up-to-date facilities and support services that were simply not part of the educational landscape even a decade ago.

The final part of the equation is simply the rising cost of food, fuel, healthcare, and other operational necessities. Taken together, it is a challenge that keeps college presidents and CFOs up at night.

It is disappointing that higher education is sometimes portrayed in the media as being indifferent to rising costs and to student debt. In fact, the national commitment to access for students has changed dramatically. As my colleague Tom Kepple of Juniata College showed in the October 2007 issue of University Business, the federal government’s historic investment in higher education has declined precipitously. Since 1980 the ratio of federally subsidized loans to outright grants has shifted from 20:80 to 80:20. The predictable result is a dramatic increase in“grants” that are “funded” by tuition discounting, along with a correspondingly dramatic rise in graduates’ debt load.

So we daily tackle the challenge of affordability. Recently, several schools with multi-billiondollar endowments, led by Harvard, made news by announcing that they would eliminate loans entirely from students’ financial aid packages, and provide outright grants instead. While we are steadily increasing our endowment through the generosity of alumni and friends, without a 10 digit endowment we can’t follow suit. But we are developing creative ways to control costs and enhance productivity. We are lobbying for our government to once again make serious investments in higher education. We continue to raise funds to support both the endowment and the operating budget. And we explore every avenue to deliver our historic excellence—at the lowest possible price.

Lex O. McMillan III, Ph.D.

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