We’re breaking tradition a bit with this issue of the Reporter by going with a theme. But of course, you’re not surprised. COVID-19 has been at the center of all of our lives since March of 2020.
Will any of us look back fondly on this crazy year? Probably not. But it most definitely will be a year that we’ll all remember. So we built this issue as a snapshot of an extraordinary period of time, and more importantly, to recognize how Albrightians are taking on or coping with unprecedented challenges.
For example, did you know that a class of 1981 alumna has been tapped to lead the state of New York’s contact tracing efforts? While alumni educators and Albright faculty transitioned to online learning last spring, others set to work making everything from hand sanitizer and face masks to beautiful artwork for those on the front lines.
Read “Big Questions in Higher Education” to learn about some of the actions set into motion by Albright’s Pandemic Planning Task Force – which has been meeting at least twice a week since February.
Hitting close to home for me is athlete Kelly Baumann’s account of losing her senior season at Albright, on page 11. It is a story shared by 29 of her fellow Lions and countless high school and college seniors across the country.
But the coronavirus has not stopped the world from turning. The Albright Science Research Institute is spearheading a number of innovative programs to help K-12 students keep moving forward this fall, including Solve-It Berks and Solve-It Berks Kids, as well the Albright TutorDen. Biology faculty member Adam Hersperger, Ph.D., and Albright Physician Joshua Williamson, M.D., have teamed up to create a video series on COVID-19, and the college’s Lifting Up Lions fund is helping students who face financial hardship. (Read about these initiatives in the Along North 13th news section.)
The entire college is roaring together to impel Albright’s strategic vision, which outlines success metrics for this year, 2025 and 2030. See the full plan online at albright.edu/strategic-vision.
Three new academic programs have launched, and hundreds of alumni gathered around their computer screens in September for a re-imagined virtual Homecoming celebration. (See some of their smiling faces on page 31.)
What a looong strange trip (the last six months) have been! Hang in there Albrightians!
– Carey Manzolillo, MBA
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THE LAST WORD
Magical, Musical Memories
I arrived at Albright College in the fall of 1948. As a freshman, I lived in Selwyn Hall. After dinner in the Selwyn dining room many students enjoyed spending time gathered around the piano in Selwyn Hall’s living room singing many of the old favorites and the popular songs of the day.
The “Big Bands” of the 40s and 50s produced so many great songs, great to dance or sing to. Two songs that I recall were “A Slow Boat to China” and “Give Me Five Minutes More.”
Seated at the piano almost every night was returning G.I. junior John McKenna who was gifted with “an ear for music.” Hearing a song once was all John needed. He loved playing the piano and composing his own songs. It was a most enjoyable way to spent part of the evening before returning to your room to study.
Throughout the year there were a good number of dances: the fraternities and sororities had their fall and spring formal dances, Friday night dances at the “Sub,” Sadie Hawkins dances, square dances and I’m sure I’m missing many others.
But one dance I’ll never forget was held in the spring of 1952. All four classes went all out and invited Claude Thornhill and his band to perform at the Rajah Ballroom in downtown Reading. We gave the dance a name: “The Blessed Event,” and the ticket sales and the dance itself were a huge success. Years later I found a Claude Thornhill CD which included his theme song “Snowfall,” and it brought back wonderful memories.
Before John McKenna graduated from Albright in the spring of 1950, the Student Council asked him to compose a song, as Albright didn’t have many songs related to just Albright. He titled the song “At the Foot of Old Mount Penn,” which I am told is still sung today at class and alumni events.
After graduation, John went to Temple for his master’s degree in school administration. We were married in August 1952.
John stayed active in alumni affairs, and in May 1992, was installed President of the Albright Alumni Association. But sadly, John died suddenly on May 22, 1992.
I am most grateful to be able to share my story with you. Albright will always be a big part of my memories.
— Doris H. McKenna ‘52
This issue’s Last Word was penned by alumna Doris H. McKenna ‘52. Sadly, just before going to print, we learned that Doris died on Oct. 10. Predeceased by her husband, John ’50, and daughter, Mary Kay Dionne; Doris is survived by her children, Louann Moos ’75, Kevin McKenna, Judy Pecharo and Christy Lightfoot. The endowed John J. McKenna ’50 Memorial Scholarship Fund is awarded to Albright juniors preparing to be elementary or secondary school teachers.