I feel a bit like I’ve given birth — to an accountant … a very skeptical accountant obsessed with backing up data with more data.
Let me explain.
A few months ago, we learned that an Albright Deep Dive leadership team was ready to move forward with a new right-size pricing plan for the college. Being responsible for communicating with Albright’s extensive family, I had a lot of questions for the cross-college, faculty and staff team.
I wanted clear answers for alumni who would likely ask how a 45 percent change in tuition pricing would affect the school’s budget. Would faculty be laid off? (In fact, the change is budget-neutral and does not call for cuts to academics or experiences.)
Future Albrightians would want to know if merit scholarships would still be available. (Yes.) And perhaps hardest to answer: current students and parents would want to know if and how the change would benefit them. (The vast majority of students will see a total cost reduction; all will benefit from the change in model, which would have called for a rise of around four percent over last year’s cost.)
But I didn’t want to give answers without really understanding the background. So as the team offered simple and clear answers, I plunged into gobs of public research on the cost of higher education in America.
Some of what I found surprised me.
Everyone “knows” that tuition prices have risen rapidly for years and students have borrowed more and more. But did you know that these trends have halted and actually reversed since 2010? I didn’t.
And did you know that Pennsylvania state grant funding remains more than 30 percent lower than what it was 10 years ago? I didn’t know that either. And I didn’t know that independent colleges, like Albright, have worked hard to offset the missing funds by awarding more institutional dollars directly to their students.
I did know that, on average, college graduates earn a million dollars more over their lifetimes than those without degrees. And I know that what I learned in college will forever be more valuable to me than money in my bank account. To me, the experience was invaluable.
So if you too are intrigued about the numbers, be sure to dig into “Understanding the Cost of Higher Ed,” born anew, in this issue of the Reporter.
– Carey Manzolillo
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THE LAST WORD
Wellness Wins at Albright
Many Albrightians know me as the vice president for student and campus life, but one of my favorite roles on campus is that of chief health officer.
Albright College is committed to educating the whole individual, and health is an integral piece of this puzzle. Studies consistently indicate that issues related to students’ health and wellness are major obstacles to academic success. Therefore, it is imperative that Albright students have opportunities to achieve wellness in all areas of life. This mission is one close to my heart, both as a college administrator and a lifelong healthcare practitioner.
Today’s college students come from every walk of life, and they arrive to campus with differing levels of access to health education and resources. The college lifestyle can also be fraught with challenges to well-being, as students are exposed to increased stress, dietary changes, new relationships and more. Knowing this, we do our utmost to equip students to leave Albright happier and healthier than when they arrived.
To accomplish this, the wellness committee, now known as the President’s Advisory Council on Wellness, was formed in 2011. Comprised of 16 members from divisions all across campus, its efforts are guided by the “Wellness Wheel,” which reminds us to consider physical, intellectual, emotional, social, environmental, spiritual and financial health. The council works hard to expand students’ and our community members’ opportunities to improve health in all of these areas through programming, events and awareness campaigns.
Albrightians receive weekly wellness tips from the council via email, keeping up-to-date, relevant health information at their fingertips. Our annual Wellness Week boasts a variety of events for our community, the pinnacle of which is our Wellness Fair, where we enjoy spending time in the sunshine with dozens of local vendors. The Schumo Center for Fitness and Well-Being provides an astounding range of wellness opportunities, from visits by a licensed massage therapist to our ever-popular glow yoga class, complete with neon paint and glowsticks!
For students who may experience health crises during their time at Albright, we have formed relationships with organizations who can provide expert care and assistance. A representative from Safe Berks now spends two afternoons per week on campus during the academic year. Not only can this representative work closely with students in need of aid or advocacy, but Safe Berks also works on large-scale projects to keep our campus community informed about issues related to dating violence and sexual misconduct.
We have also partnered with the Caron Foundation, which now provides drug and alcohol services to the Albright community. A Caron representative is present on campus twice a month to assist students who may be struggling with substance abuse.
Most recently, the Student and Campus Life Division has developed a new initiative called Lifting Up Lions. We believe that no Albrightian’s success should be limited by challenges related to financial or material resources, and we want to remove those barriers wherever possible. For example, our Department of Public Safety offers transportation to a local food bank to combat the rise of food insecurity on campuses nationwide. We recently held a coat drive to make warm clothing available to students in light of this January’s frigid temperatures. Finally, we are working together with the Experiential Learning and Career Development Center to provide toiletries to any student who may need them.
I and my colleagues aim to empower every Albrightian to achieve optimal wellness. While today’s fast-paced culture often tempts us to sacrifice our wellness to our careers and responsibilities, good health is the foundation upon which a well-rounded life should be built. I truly believe that Albright prepares its students to fulfill their greatest potential — not only in the classroom or the boardroom, but also in their minds, bodies and spirits.
– Samantha J. Wesner, DNP, CRNP, WHNP-BC