Presidents Column – Albright College

Presidents Column

Progress toward our 2030 goal

Dear Albrightians,
Just over three years ago the faculty and the board of trustees endorsed Albright College’s Strategic Vision, the result of a two-and-a-half year process of deep-dive discussions and analysis, environmental scan, situation analysis, community strategic planning and board discussions.

When It was endorsed in February 2020, Albright had already begun to make changes to evolve programs guided by the information we learned, including a tuition right-size, enhancing student success initiatives and implementing a scholarship campaign for Advancing Lives directed at sophomores, juniors and seniors, and repurposing the Stabler endowment for similar purpose.

In fall 2019 and spring 2020, the college was beginning to see the first results of this work, with retention and reputation beginning to increase. Then the world declared a global health emergency. There is no doubt that the pandemic set the college’s work back significantly. However, what it did not affect was the college’s ability to see the future and continue forward. This issue of the Reporter highlights some areas of our progress and I summarize a few of the initiatives here.

Strengthening Albright’s institutional position
To be successful in the competitive higher education market, Albright must be known for a distinctive aspect of the lived experience of its students, and it must be a distinctiveness that resonates with that market.

To identify its institutional position, Albright engaged with Art & Science, a premier consulting firm. This project began over 30 months ago. It comprised surveys of Albright’s inquiry and accepted residential college student pools, followed by statistical modeling and recommendations, which we are now implementing.
Through this research, the college learned that it must develop an institutional position that distinguishes it from the crowded field of higher education. Three different positions, all of which could describe Albright College, were tested. The position with the largest positive impact to both inquiring and admitted students was that of creativity and innovation.

The entire college community is now working on integrating this position into the lived experience of all Albright students — those in the residential college, the School of Professional Studies, and Total Experience Learning® K-12 programs, through the evolution of programs where creative learning is an integral component, as well as into messaging and marketing.

Though this work has been ongoing less than a year, in fall 2022, the college’s first-year enrollments increased by 16% over the previous year.

Expanding the national reputation of academic programs
For the last two years, Albright alumni and undergraduate students have showcased their creative designs on the runway at New York Fashion Week and managed behind-the-scenes activity under the direction of alumnus R. Scott French ’87. You can read about it in this issue. This successful initiative has already had multiple positive outcomes on reputation and enrollment:

• Reputation building started with the 2021 show with 109 media placements and over 105 million impressions worldwide. The 2022 show garnered 274 media placements.
• In fall 2022, ranked Albright #27 nationally on its Top 50 Fashion Design Schools list and #18 nationally on its Top 20 Private Fashion Design Schools.
• In the 2022 first-year class, enrollments in the fashion program increased 36% (from 19 to 26 first-year students).

Since 2019, Albright has had a varsity esports team, which competes against colleges and universities nationwide. It also has a distinctive co-major called game and simulation development. This combination of esports and innovative academics garnered the attention of Nerd Street Gamers and their partner company, Playfly Sports. An announcement of a partnership between Albright, Nerd Street Gamers and Playfly esports has positively impacted reputation and enrollments:
• Applications from students interested in esports increased 211% from spring 2021 to 2022.
• Acceptances increased 240%.
• Deposits from fall 2021 to fall 2022 increased 76.5%.
Other residential college programs are actively working to enhance their academic reputations.

Evolving programs in the School of Professional Studies
The faculty and staff in the School of Professional Studies have been actively working to enhance their programs to meet the needs of today’s post-traditional student market.

• New programs have been launched — bachelor’s programs in addiction studies and interdisciplinary studies; master’s programs in applied psychology, athletic leadership and business; and several certificate programs.
• To recognize the changing needs of the market and the desire for education at any time and place, the majority of the adult programs are now offered online.
• These changes have resulted in a dramatic increase in applicants and 43% increase enrollment over last year.
• A one-of-a-kind program developed in partnership with Reading Area Community College (RACC) empowers RACC’s associate degree holders to earn multiple higher degrees (bachelor’s and master’s) at Albright in about two years.

Expanding to the K-12 market
With a goal of creating an ecosystem of educational pathways and degree programs, Albright partnered with a strong K-12 educational program called Total Experience Learning® (TExpL), formerly known as Science Research Institute, in February 2020. In less than three years, this program has grown to encompass summer, after-school and certificate/graduate education programs.

• Every program has sold out and over-enrolled since program initiation, producing a strong revenue stream for Albright and enhancing its reputation and visibility in the greater Reading area.
• In collaboration with the School of Professional Studies, a graduate certificate in Educational Innovation and Entrepreneurship was offered for the first time in 2021-22. Initially projected to enroll 10-15 students, 56 area educators and administrators earned the certificate in the first year. This year, the program enrolled 120 educators.
• TExpL was recognized as a premier K-12 STEAM education program at the National Day of Glass program in Washington, D.C., featured as a distinctive educational program in the AAAS Science Magazine, and featured at the United Nation’s Celebration of the Year of Glass as premier K-12 materials science program in December 2022.

What I’ve shared here is merely a snapshot. Our Strategic Vision will continue to guide the college in defining and building a sustainable financial model that focuses on understanding its students and their needs, and the thriving and well-being of the entire community. It is the intersection of Albright’s programs with the real-world needs of students where Albright creates real value.

You can learn more about our various programs and enhancements by listening to my podcast, Albright Out Loud (see back cover for more).

Thank you for your continued engagement with and support of Albright. I hope to see you on campus in the near future. Go Lions!

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


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