President's Column | Albright College

President’s Column

Empowering Albright Voices

Diversity on college campuses enriches and strengthens the educational experience by promoting intellectual, cultural and civic engagement. It enhances the core skills of the liberal arts experience — critical thinking, problem solving and communication. The American Council on Education (ACE) affirms this, and at Albright, we certainly know it to be true.

At Albright, we know that our differences make us stronger. Recognizing our individual uniqueness and the importance of respecting a multitude of viewpoints are essential in delivering the cross-disciplinary, personalized education that we offer our students.

Daily, we strive to build an inclusive and equitable academic community in which all community members thrive, recognize their full potential, engage meaningfully in institutional life, and contribute to the flourishing of others. And we do so with a commitment to our Expression Statement — “You can disagree. You can’t disrespect.”

But is this enough? The short answer is no, which is why at Albright, this work is part of the much larger Strategic Vision. In that Strategic Vision, we declare that our 2030 goal is to achieve equity in student success and graduation rates across all student demographics — an ambitious goal, but one that cannot wait.

Why? Because throughout our country, countless unspeakable acts of systemic discrimination, ignorance, intolerance and violence continue daily. To accomplish our 2030 goal, we must continue to work together to find better ways to eliminate the systemic and institutional racial barriers that lead to racist outcomes and challenges. We must continue to take one step at a time and commit to moving forward together.

This semester, we took some steps forward with an inspiring, eye-opening and engaging day-long event. Our inaugural Empowering Albright Voices event — a day for Albrightians to listen and to be heard as we learned from each other — was held on April 7 in between sessions one and two of the spring semester. The event was dedicated to:

  • hearing the many and diverse voices on the Albright campus
  • understanding that it is our differences that make us stronger
  • cultivating mutual respect among and between these differences

Aimed at giving voice to and hearing from all members of the Albright community, Empowering Albright Voices was conceived by Professor Brenda Ingram-Wallace and supported by the creative spirits of Professors Kami Fletcher and Mark Lomanno, who developed the day-long virtual symposium, Wholly Earth, inspired by an album of the same name by the late vocalist Abbey Lincoln. Wholly Earth featured workshops, roundtables and research presentations from the arts, humanities and natural and social sciences. From exciting and moving student performances to engaging and thoughtful discussions, the day-long event celebrated Albright’s interdisciplinary education and our diverse community of learners.

Though the day was one of celebration, striving to build an inclusive, equitable and fully participating community takes work. It is not work that is accomplished in a single day. It’s ongoing work — daily, weekly, monthly and year after year. It takes active listening, especially when you don’t want to hear it. Empowering Albright Voices laid an important foundation for the Albright College community and it will continue each semester. In fact, plans for a fall 2021 Empowering Albright Voices day to be held on October 14 are already in the works. As the date gets closer, be sure to check out the website for details — albright.edu/empowering-albright-voices.

Though it sounds simple, talking and listening to each other is so very important. In his opening remarks at the Empowering Albright Voices event, Professor Lomanno, who teaches in our music department, said, “You can’t be a successful musician without listening to those around you.” He went on to say that it’s a concept that he applies to everyday life.

I invite you, Albright alumni and friends, to join us in listening to those around you and in adding your voice to this important conversation.

Best regards,

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