President’s Column – Albright College

President’s Column

The First Six Months

It is hard to believe that I arrived on the Albright campus only six months ago—it has been so busy! I have experienced the enthusiasm of the POPs during orientation, the fun of being ponded at my inauguration, the joy of  seeing students perform in Albright Idol, Candide, and other fabulous performances, and the thrill of exciting wins at sporting events.

One of my goals has been to “Listen and Learn”—to listen to the members of our community; hear their hopes, dreams, and challenges; and learn about how the Albright of 2017 is the same as, and different from, the Albright of 1982. What excites me the most is that I’ve learned that the heart and soul of Albright—the focus on supporting our students and helping them reach their fullest potential—has not changed. I’ve heard stories from many faculty and staff about students with whom they have made a meaningful connection.

Likewise, Brian and I have hosted several student groups for dinner at our home. We hear from them much excitement and appreciation of Albright, as well as suggestions on what we might improve. A common theme is clear: how important the staff and faculty are in their lives on campus. I’ve heard stories about how custodians, dining hall staff, grounds workers, administrators and faculty members have made a difference. These stories represent the heart and soul of what Albright does best.

“What excites me the most is that I’ve learned
that the heart and soul of  Albright—the focus on
supporting our students and helping them reach
their fullest potential—has not changed.”

Building a sustainable financial model for the College is one of our priorities. Indeed, our  challenge is no different from that of many other institutions of higher education. We are tackling this challenge through a broad and interdisciplinary process we are calling the Financial Deep Dive. The Deep Dive Steering Team has dissected the Albright budget to identify all potential levers and parameters that we might influence. From this work, we formed broader working groups focused on gathering and analyzing data to address specific questions. In late January, we will create implementation teams for carrying out specific recommendations. Together with our director of institutional research, I developed for the community an in-depth picture of the economics of higher education broadly, and exactly where Albright fits within this context. We have much work to do, and it will not be fast, but I am confident in our ultimate success.

Presidential transitions often lead to times of change as the institution builds upon its foundations and looks courageously to the future. Toward the end of the fall semester, it became apparent that moving boldly into the future would require a substantial administrative restructure to position us for the important work we must do. The President’s Cabinet was significantly restructured, creating four Cabinet positions where there were previously two, and rethinking the responsibilities of each position. As with many such reorganizations, two of our long-contributing employees were not good fits for these new positions and administrative structures and we parted ways with them, providing severance support to ease their transition. While we are sad to see them  depart, this restructuring will greatly facilitate our work as we move boldly forward.

Although Albright is in Reading, we have alumni/ae across the region, the country, and in fact the world. I have enjoyed meeting some of you at alumni/ae events in Philadelphia and New York, and this coming semester will see additional travel to events across the region and the country. I’m looking forward to having conversations with each  of you to learn of your individual dreams and aspirations for our alma mater.

Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D. ’82
President and Professor of Chemistry