State of the College Address President Tom Foley Mount Aloysius College Fall 2014
There has been a great deal of excitement at Mt Aloysius since the last State of the College Address 6 months ago. Let me pick a few highlights from just the last month of the spring semester at Mt Aloysius: Our Faculty sponsored the third Honors Recognition event in April for over 150 students just before graduation and also produced another excellent Undergraduate Research Symposium, including the work of several students on their way to graduate degrees, as well as a record number of submissions from health to environmental sciences, from Marcellus Shale to marketing plans for brave new business ventures. Thank you Deans Zukowski and Haschak, and Symposium organizers Dr. Natalie Van Breuklyn, Dr. Merilee Anderson and all their health sciences colleagues and other faculty who made research a priority. Undergraduate Research Video Our Student government leaders organized their own third annual Leadership Banquet in April, where they saluted more than 50 MAC students for outstanding service to clubs, organizations and to Mt Aloysius. And our Students Activities leaders put on a dazzling array of campus events, entertainments, competitions and assemblies last spring, from “open mike” coffee houses, to craft, game, intramural and activity nights, as well as over 20 talented comedians, songmeisters and musicians who visited our campus. Thank you Elaine Grant, Dr. Jane Grassadonia, Chris Koren and all who helped organize this impressive roster of events. Leadership Banquet Photos Our Admissions team put on another outstanding Mercy Presidential Scholars Banquet in April, with 28 of 30 scholars and their families in attendance and a final yield of 97%. We will have almost 100 Mercy Presidential Scholars on campus next year, a new high. Thank you Dean of Admissions Frank Crouse, Freshman Admissions Director Andy Clouse, event organizer Caitlin Wilkinson and their teams, and especially our hard working Mercy Presidential Scholars committee led by Stacy Shenk. Our Staff pulled together the 1,000 details that go into commencement and pulled off a Graduation in May that was moving and memorable, with first rate student speeches, incisive remarks on “citizenship and the common good” from our husband and wife commencement speaking team and the usual but still so poignant shout outs from the full house (including at least one “way to go Mom”). More on them later. But thanks to Suzanne Campbell, our security team led by Bill Trexler, our buildings and grounds team led by Jerry Rubritz and to Chris Lovett and Jack Coyle and all 2
their colleagues, who together constitute the “crew” for this signature event in our school year (which actually consists, at this point, of 17 separate events that require set up and coverage). Commencement Highlights Video | Honorary Degree Citations | Mainliner Story | Altoona Mirror Story And the President’s Executive Council and a number of Faculty and Staff—led by Middle States chair Dr. Jones and chapter authors Drs. Zukowski, Grassadonia, Cook, Costanza and Anderson and Conference on Mercy Higher Education review team leaders Dr. Sister Helen Marie Burns and me—started work before graduation and have been hard at it all summer on our formal submissions for accreditation and review. We are on draft eight for Middle States and draft four for CMHE at this point!! In sheer metrics, the numbers for 2013-14 are impressive. During the past year: Our faculty taught 1,206 sections for 45,253 credits to almost 1800 different students Our student affairs team conducted over 550 social, educational and res-life activities with over 50 student organizations Our admissions team helped produce the highest fall and spring enrollments in our history Our student athletes competed in 426 events in 14 intercollegiate sports, most in our NCAA history Our community of actors, artists and writers produced 8 Belltowers (60% increase), assembled 6 Wolf Kuhn art exhibits (including Dr. Talbot’s engaging sabbatical project on textiles), performed 4 plays (for one of which Professor Magee and his charges brought home our first Kennedy Center college theater honors) and sang at 3 Vox Nova concerts (one of which chronicled all 14 Stations of the Cross). Vox Nova Playlist Our student volunteers donated 11,998 hours to 189 non-profit partners on 250 community projects, including service again in Guyana and New Orleans. Community Service Report Our Digital Grotto team produced 127 new videos on more than 60 different aspects of Mt Aloysius life and posted 120 albums on college events on flickr. Flickr Photo Galleries | MAC YouTube page And over the summer—300 young basketball players, 54 PSP young cadets, almost 30 somewhat older aspiring theologians, and 14 health science campers graced our campus. Camp Cadet Highlights
All this (and more) activity generated over 1600 news mentions in Pennsylvania for Mount Aloysius College, a 14% increase over last year’s record breaking volume, almost 140 each month. Good news for Admissions and for the College. Our Mt Aloysius team is making an impact—on our students, on this community and hopefully on each other. Undergraduate Research Symposium clip ——————————————————————————————————————
Let me use this State of the College opportunity to do a past/present/future review through five topics:
I. reprise on graduation II. review of some performance topics III. report to stakeholders on progress and challenges across the College IV. reconsideration of recent All College themes V. reassessment about purpose and hope at the college.
Turning to graduation, the fourth at Mt Aloysius for Michele and I (eight if you count December graduations, which we do!!!), it was memorable for many reasons. Let me suggest a few: Pinning ceremonies were, as always, quite moving. I attended the Nursing pinning and anointing ceremony, with Trustee Judge David Klementik. Again, this year, a member of the President’ Executive Council was at each pinning ceremony. Thank you Nursing Associate Dean Zukowski, and Directors Regina Barr and Dr. Bonnie Noll for such a well-organized and moving event and thank you to all our Health Sciences chairs who ran the six other pinning ceremonies. Pinning Ceremony Photos A new approach to the final “senior” week–Student affairs under Jane and Elaine produced a series of activities to create a modified senior week “feel” for the graduates. There was a staff/student softball game, an alumni-hosted barbeque and a more robust graduate toast and breakfast (with multiple toasts to our graduates on behalf of the Sisters of Mercy, Student Affairs, the Faculty, the MAC Alumni Association and from me). We will continue to enhance all these efforts next year. Changes in the ceremony itself–last year, we added a color guard (led by one of our own students) and a bagpiper. We also added the presentation of four artifacts to connect these graduates and their stories to the history of Mount Aloysius. This year, we added four Mercy Spirit Awards. This also gave us an opportunity to honor 19 students (up from 5 in 2010) with roles at the ceremony, in recognition of their contributions to the College. We continued our new (as of last year) tradition of honoring a couple for their contributions (the Calandra's, the Rooney’s and now the Shribman/Skrzyckis), and presenting honorary degrees to persons in the fields of education (Skrzycki, Shribman and Sharkey), in public service (Sharkey and McGowan) and someone from the region (McGowan). Baccalaureate Mass—Bishop Mark was gracious and personal, and there were six MAC students on the altar for the service; but the true highlight was again the choir, with little time to practice, terrific nonetheless. I mentioned in closing remarks that God has been sending that sunlight through those same stained glass windows for over 100 years. Enough said.
The graduation itself was to use our student’s favorite word “awesome” (and not just because students could see themselves on the big screen in the air-conditioned ACWC). David Shribman and Cindy Skzyrcki did a terrific job closing out our year of focus on Citizenship and the Common Good. They also “opened doors” for our newest young citizens—our graduates—underlining the importance of voting and reading in depth as keys both to practicing good citizenship and for aspiring to the common good. Commencement Speaker Remarks The presentation of three Honorary Degrees was moving, to say the least. Board Chair Dan Rullo read the citation for Pulitzer Prize Winner David Shribman and his writer teacher wife Cindy, while Vice Chair Philip Devorris helped them to don their ceremonial doctoral hoods. I did the honors for Ambassador James Sharkey’s citation, while Sr. Helen Marie—in honor of the direct connection between the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin and Mr. Starkey’s origin in Derry— helped him with his hooding. Finally, Board Secretary Ann Benzel (who has done so much for the arts in our region and across the state) read the citation for actress and volunteer extraordinaire Michelle McGowan who was helped into her hood by the woman who she refers to as her second mother Sr. Eric Marie Setlock. The citations were compelling and the recipients absolutely deserved these honorary doctorates from Mount Aloysius College. Honorary Degree Citations | Mainliner Story | Altoona Mirror Story The student speeches hit just the right notes, it seemed to me, especially in delivery. Brad Mikitko, who delivered the opening prayer, is a four year medical imaging student who really came into his own at college. Rachel Wagner, a mature student who already owns a BA from the University of Pittsburgh, took a second degree in Elementary Education from the Mount. Rachel has appeared on just about every local stage in the area as well as in Alumni Hall and her experience showed as she welcomed all to the 188th graduation at Mount Aloysius College. They are just two of a truly outstanding cast of graduate leaders who excelled inside and outside the classroom and in the community—perhaps the most impressive group in my four years here. Read about Brad’s selection as a Mercy Spirit Award Winner John Moist was just outstanding as class valedictorian, perhaps the best student speech I have heard in 20-plus graduations. Moist is a young man who came to us with a ton of extraordinary (and mostly hidden) talents, much of which he gradually put on display during his four years at the college. An outstanding musician, singer and writer, he served as the MC for all four years for our MAC’s Got Talent (which he would have won 6
hands down any single year). John also founded the Political Awareness Club, was named outstanding Mercy Presidential Scholar, won a writing prize here and was co-editor in chief of the school newspaper. Both David and Cindy were astounded (and that was their word) with both his content and delivery and are anxious to help advance him to the next stages of his career. All of you who conspired in his extraordinary growth and maturity on our watch, especially Drs. Coakley, Cook, Smith, Costanza and Jones, deserve to take a bow. John’s Speech Most importantly, there were 402—as John put it—hope-filled graduates this year, second highest total in the history of the college. Of course, we heard the obligatory “way to go Mom” as one of our graduates crossed the stage. Chairman Dan Rullo in his fourth and last year presiding over the graduation says his day is not complete until he hears that phrase shouted out. Best to close thus summary of our fourth year at Mt Aloysius with some words from our Valedictorian (who led off with the remark that he and I were both “seniors”). John said: “…perspective is the third gift of a liberal arts education. Through education, we learn the world of others. We see the humanity, the Christ in each other. I call upon you to join me in passing that torch [of a Mercy education]. Mercy, Service, Justice, Hospitality— what will these mean to us? More importantly, what will they mean to you? Foster these in your heart, and you will see them grow. We are stewards of grace, each and every one of us, and we will show the world that we are not lost, that we are beacons of hope on a small, yearning earth. This is what a Mercy education has done for us. More than teach us, it has instilled hope—a hope which we now pass on to the world. “ As faculty and staff, you are stewards of grace too, helping to pass the torch every year at this time. And I thank you for your service to Mt Aloysius, to this community, to these students. We are all in your debt, and we feel that way especially at this time of year. Let’s start this New Year with a look back at the 2014 graduation, the second largest in our school’s history— our 2014 Mt Aloysius Graduation video. Watch the video here.
Right after graduation, I began compiling materials for my own performance review by the Board of Trustees, an annual exercise that they—and I—take very seriously. 23 board members, including 13 CEOs, five Sisters of Mercy, three lawyers, two COOs, one former Presidential spouse and a real live Judge sit in judgment on how well I have fulfilled their expectations, based on the outcomes on the seven goals they set for me this year. I will spare you the 36 page document (and 200 pages of attachments), and leave you instead with a sort of top ten list for the past year. In no particular order:
Participated in over 350 events on our campus last year—from hosting Mercy Scholar socials to participating in Career Services Mock Interviews, from enjoying theater productions to observing biology/anatomy class presentations, from managing Board of Trustees and President’s Advisory Council meetings to delivering formal lectures on topics as diverse as terrorism (the destruction of community) and leadership (the building of community).
Visited with over 100 community and college partners in the past year from local arts groups to Rotaries, Chambers and other non-profits, to fellow Presidents from a dozen competitor institutions, to campuses in Abu Dhabi (NYU) and Vancouver (VIU) and with elected officials in Harrisburg and appointed ones in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Served as keynote speaker at a number of these events in Blair and Cambria counties, and was one of 2 PA college Presidents (and the only one form the region) to submit testimony on a higher ed White House Scorecard to the US Department of Education.
Hosted over 75 events for faculty and staff, including: open houses in my office (to celebrate holidays, retirements and more); 6 all staff/all faculty picnics and meals (from the summer St. Aloysius picnic to the back to school and Christmas family events to our now annual end of year luncheon); more than 20 special events to welcome visitors (for Mercy and “Visiting” scholars, for Speaker Series lecturers, etc.); and hosts of special homemade dinners (prepared and served by Michele and me) for special guests and student groups at the College (from Ireland, the BSU, Park Street “club” and student Residence Life team)
Delivered formal remarks at over 50 campus events—at open houses and Mercy Scholar Banquets for our prospective students, at Honor Society Inductions and Student Athlete Banquets for our current students, at President’s Appreciation Dinners and Alumni Awards Banquets for our alums and donors, and at retirement, veterans and other lunches and other celebrations for our faculty and staff. Read my remarks from those events here. Also had the pleasure of lecturing in five classes this year on topics ranging from
Professor Asonevich’s Business Topics: Project Management class (with Suzanne Campbell), where we focused on identifying “decision trees” in the ACWC construction process 8
and on developing business plans for possible projects within the ACWC) Professor Dragoni’s Catholicism class, where I lectured (with Visiting Scholar James Sharkey) on the issue of religious conflict and associated violence. Professor Sunseri’s Advanced Topics in IT Management, where I focused on lessons learned first-hand in emergency management situations like Katrina and Haiti. Professor Petrazzi-Woods graduate level required Psychology seminar on Career Development, where I focused on (among other topics) the career development platforms built at the state Department of Labor and Industry during my time there (and which are still in use). Professor Smith’s History & Politics of Epidemic Disease (again with Ambassador Sharkey) where the topic was the notion of “social violence as disease” in the context of Northern Ireland.
Authored fall semester Op-Ed on “Citizenship” that ran locally in the Times-Democrat and was picked up by dailys in Scranton, Allentown and Philadelphia. Scranton Op-Ed | Citizenship Op-Ed
Hosted nine college-wide lectures (open to the community) and helped develop a Speaker Series monograph of the presentations on this year’s theme, “21st Century Citizenship: The Common Good.” That monograph will be distributed to about 400 opinion-shapers, college presidents, guidance counselors and others across the region and the country—this helps to broaden our message about Mount Aloysius College. Citizenship Monograph
Engaged at state and national level in debate over proposed “White House Scorecard”: Submitted testimony to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the proposed White House
Scorecard rating system for colleges and universities. Mount Aloysius was one of only 53 higher education institutions in the country (and the only CMHE school) to submit testimony (subsequently published on the Department of Education website). The testimony received positive reactions from numerous higher education groups and leaders. I raised concerns about the proposed ratings metrics and developed four arguments: President Foleys presentation to the Board of Trustees 1. All students matter—The White House Scorecard (WHS) doesn’t count 70% of the students who go to a school like Mount Aloysius. I appended a basketball diagram drawing an analogy to a box score and how the White House approach would leave out half the players on the average team (an approach I thought the Secretary of Education, who recently starred in the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game, would especially understand). President Foley’s Scorecard Testimony 9
2. Real students matter—Also appended the stories of ten real (but anonymous) Mount Aloysius students who would not be counted in the WHS approach, each of whom has a slightly different but powerful tale to tell. Student Profiles 3. Degree of Difficulty matters—I also argued that any measurement of outcome/success in higher education needs to include a “degree of difficulty” measure, much as the healthcare industry uses its “health acuity index” so as not to penalize hospitals who deliver care to the most seriously ill. I gave several examples of the items that might be measured in this index. 4. Fair solutions matter—I also presented a four part solution that would make such a national comparison more equitable and in line with the general intent of the WHS—which is to encourage schools to pay more attention to the needs of “harder to serve” students. Read the solutions Also had the chance to present pieces of this testimony at the Conference for Mercy Higher Education (CMHE), at a meeting with Senator Casey and also with several other Washington-based national higher education leaders. Authored spring semester Op-Ed on the US Department of Education proposed college rating system that ran in four newspapers across the state and on the Inside Higher Education web site (probably the most widely read higher education internet site). It was also distributed by the Conference on Mercy Higher Education, reprinted by the state association (AICUP) and highlighted on the website of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Article on Inside Higher Ed Website At the end of the day, much of the current debate is about putting hard economic values on higher education— which schools produce the highest paid graduates, which majors predict highest lifetime earnings, how do we connect education directly to future income. We would do well in this debate to remember words spoken more than 50 years ago by an American President who was trying to tamp down a similar effort to correlate higher education simply to higher earnings. President Kennedy said that: “[Economic value] does not allow for the health of our children...or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” This is an important debate and I will keep you informed of our role in it, and our progress on an approach that is fair to all students and to Mt Aloysius.
Accepted leadership positions on three economic development Boards—on the Board of the Altoona Blair County Redevelopment Authority (ABCD), on the Board of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, and on the Executive Roundtable of that Chamber. This complements my role on the Executive Committee for the Johnstown Area Redevelopment Initiative (JARI) and as a member of the Greater Johnstown Regional Partnership. I continue to serve as the AMCC rep on the NCAA Division III President’s Advisory Council, on the Board of Directors for Campus Compact (a national leader on community service in higher education), on the Board of Trustees at our sister school in Chicago, St. Xavier’s University, on the Board of Trustees for AICUP (Association of Private Colleges and Universities in PA) and as member of the 10
President’s Council of the AMCC (our ten member athletic conference), So thank you for this extraordinary year, as we prepare for yet another. Board Membership List
Had excellent tutorials with two well-regarded College Presidents from USA and Canada: Had excellent tutorials with two well-regarded College Presidents from USA and Canada. Even college presidents need a professional development plan every year. At no cost to the college, I spent a week at Vancouver Island University (VIU), most of it in a kayak, with their long time president. The time spent on Desolation Sound in that kayak helped clear the mind so that I better understood the three page letter from one of my oldest friends, VIU President Nilson that awaited my return to campus, in which he followed up on all the higher ed topics we discussed—between paddling around in the Pacific. Also went to Abu Dhabi, again at no cost to the College, as the guest of NYU President John Sexton, where I served as one of two international observers for their three day fall seminar and open house. I participated in a seminar on “The Good Life” led by an NYU philosophy professor, from which came the idea for our campus theme this this year. I was proud to wear my silver Mt Aloysius badge all weekend, while I mingled and learned from students and faculty that hailed from 47 nations and who spoke over 100 different languages.
Arranged and hosted Visiting Scholar Ambassador James Sharkey in the course of 27 different scheduled appearances in his 30 days on campus (where he stayed in the Old Main guest suite). Sharkey, who was ambassador on four continents and in more than a dozen countries, delivered the Spring Honors Lecture on “Citizenship in the Twenty-First Century: A Global Perspective” Citizenship Lecture Video presented a Mt Aloysius Community Lecture on the “Crisis in Ukraine,” building on his experiences as a resident diplomat before and after the fall of the old USSR. Crisis in the Ukraine Video lectured in five classes: on Irish Dramatist Brian Friel, on Irish Nobel Laureates John Hume and Seamus Heaney and with me in classes on “Violence as a Social Disease” and “Religious Conflict from the Reformation Forward” Digital Grotto Conversation with James Sharkey Hosted (with Michele and me) two formal dinners, one with four students on their way to Ireland and the International House of Mercy this summer, the other an old fashioned barbecue with five Sisters of Mercy (where one and all performed “party pieces”—poems, songs, riddles, stories—customary in his homeland) Was feted at a formal dinner with trustees, faculty, staff and students (and shared numerous informal 11
meals with students and faculty alike). As if that wasn’t enough, Associate Dean Becky Zukowski and Sister Helen Marie Burns hosted the Ambassador’s wife Sattie with the nursing faculty and in a class on “Women and Global Cultures,” respectively. The process of going through this performance review with the board confirmed for us that 2013-14 was another fulfilling year for Michele and me at Mt Aloysius. We appreciate all your support.
III. STAKEHOLDERS REPORT Now, as a sort of stakeholder’s report, let me try to capture a few quick updates on matters central to the growth and development of the college, for you in the next few minutes. ADMISSIONS As matter of head count, enrollment at Mt Aloysius has increased 60% in the last decade (including dual enrollment and continuing education students), almost 25% in terms of FTEs, close to 15% in full time day students— even as the available pool of high school graduates has dropped almost 20% since 2008. And the news continues to be encouraging—especially as compared to many of our competitors. Fall 2013 full time undergraduate (post freeze) number was 1248 which was the highest full time undergraduate number in the history of the college and our admissions tea m broke the record for spring enrollment (1153) as well. We anticipate having our largest freshmen class in the history of MAC with full-time undergraduate enrollment at 1325 scheduled FT undergraduate students as of today—as compared to 1307 at this time exactly one year ago (all a moving target for fall 2014 freeze). Slow and steady, even with the smaller pool and the increased competition in some of our subject areas. As of today, we are bursting at the seams for dorm space—a very good problem to have and one with which many of our competitors would be delighted to complain about. With this class, we will also welcome
28 Mercy Scholars 19 Biology Fellows 4 English Fellows 5 History Fellows 17 Honor Students 42 out of state and 18 states excluding PA 12 International 121 Mercy Grants
Thanks to Frank and his team, who have broken their own record for personal campus visits, for on-site school visits and for personal phone calls to prospective students—each again this year. AWARDS Several recent awards to the College that are of note. Let me outline them quickly: College of Distinction: Listed for the fourth straight year as a “College of Distinction” for fall 2014 for “engaged students, great teaching, vibrant communities, and successful outcomes.” Read the article. Community Service Honor Roll: Named to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll 13
by the Corporation for National and Community Service, fifth time altogether, and third year in a row, one of three schools in our five county area. Military Friendly College: Named a 2014 Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs and consistently since the inauguration of the program. S&P A- Rating: MAC maintained its S&P rating of “A- with a positive outlook.” Similarly, the US Department of Education released its “Financial Responsibility” scores for FY 2012, and we again received the highest possible rating, a 3.0. Mount Aloysius is one of 35 (of 130 rated) PA private institutions of higher education who received the perfect score two successive years. Safe to say that any school our size and classification would be delighted with these ratings. Our academic programs also had banner years: Capsim Business honors: our Business/Accounting program saw one of our teams of MAC students finish the Capsim ® Capstone Strategy Simulation in the top 10% of approximately 2,600 university teams from around the world. All five MAC teams finished in the top half nationally—a first. NCLEX Nursing honors: with fully 35% of our total student body (and already on the way to a 100% job placement rate), our 2014 MAC nurses state exam pass rate exceeded 92%. That is just excellent, and the third year (and sixth testing period) in a row where our overall rate will exceed 90%. That pass rate competes with and surpasses the rate for many institutions whose incoming classes carry far higher average SAT and ACT scores and also compares very well across the state. State exam honors: 100% pass rate in the most recent state exams for our med lab techs (MLTs) and for our Master’s counseling students (17 for 17 with our first two master’s classes); 95% for our radiologic technologists and 89% for our surg techs. Kennedy Center honors: our theater program brought home its first two Kennedy Center honors for Godspell, during which our own miracle man Tim Michrina ’13 (who recovered from a stroke and heart attack over Christmas break) played the role of the real Miracle Maker. Grad school success rates: 12 of 24 Science/Math Mountie grads are in grad school this fall, 4 of them in doctoral programs in PT, 6 in OT and two in other grad programs. And two more ’14 grads (including our Valedictorian English/PolySci major) are with Americorps in Maine. Two of our ’13 accounting grads are now with Big Four accounting firms and two more ’13 grads have entered Duquesne Law School. Congratulations to all the faculty and staff associated with these outstanding results in so many different departments. Our student-athletes also excelled in the classroom, and had some good moments on the field of play as well: AMCC School Academic honors: The Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference named over 50% of our student athletes to its spring AMCC Academic Honor Roll. Mt Aloysius again finished in the top three for the Dean’s Cup for the AMCC, awarded to the member institution with the overall highest percentage of its student athletes on the league Honor Roll. AMCC Team Academic honors: The men’s baseball and basketball teams and the men’s and women’s golf team won for highest team GPA—first time that Mt Aloysius brought home three of these honors. Men’s basketball again received the National Association of Basketball Coaches Academic Excellence Award (one of only 110 teams among over a thousand NCAA/NAIA programs); five team members (Education major Aaron Patrick, Business majors Jake Wyatt, Tanner Thomas and Clint 14
Wagner and Accounting major Nolan Doyle) made the NABC academic honor roll—a record for us and the AMCC conference. AMCC Individual Academic honors: Two sport captain and Biology major Lindsy Sammarco became the first MAC athlete to be named Woman of the Year in the conference, which recognizes accomplishments on and off the field of play—she is on her way to the physical therapy doctoral program at Chatham University. Political Science major Seth Shaffer and Business major Jalissa Westover were finalists for the top academic student-athlete award in the conference. And Education major Aaron Patrick brought home one of just 10 NCAA “Good Neighbor” awards, which he received at halftime of the Final four championship game on an all-expenses paid trip to Dallas. Sammarco Story | Aaron Patrick Story AMCC Community Service honors: Our student athletes also brought home 6 of the 15 AMCC awards for community service work, including the Gold Award for the seven straight years of the baseball team’s work with the Salvation Army. Our 14 teams volunteered at 27 different community service projects last year. AMCC Community Service Altoona Mirror AMCC Athletic honors: a record five MAC teams (men’s soccer, women’s basketball and tennis, softball and baseball) made the final four in conference play. Two (women’s basketball and softball) made the championship game, equaling the previous total from 8 years of conference play. The Class of 2014 produced only our third league MVP in any AMCC sport—softball player Jalissa Westover (who also brought home a 3.92 GPA and starts her MBA as a grad assistant here this fall). You will note that the first four awards had to do with success in the classroom and volunteer efforts in the community. Thanks to our Office of Mission Integration led by Sister Helen Marie and to the Office for Student Success and Advising led by Heather Lowe and to the many mentors—both faculty and staff—who are signal parts of these off-the-field results. INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT Mt Aloysius is a very tuition dependent institution and capital campaigns are the only way for us to finance all the new construction on this campus in the last ten years, the only way to pay for great advances like the Simulation Labs in Nursing and technology across campus, and the only way to increase our investments in enrollment, community service and faculty excellence. We don’t want to conduct a campaign outside the College without everyone inside the College understanding why we have to do it. We have built this campaign around five themes that emerged from the focus groups in which many of you participated three years ago:
Center for Civic Engagement Excellence in Health Sciences Faculty Achievement Preparing High School Students Athletic Convocation and Wellness Center
We are not quite three years into a five year campaign, and under the leadership of VP for Advancement Jennifer Dubuque, we have now more than doubled our best previous effort. By the numbers, we have: Increased Campaign Giving to $17.56M at June 30, 2014, more than double any previous campaign 15
Increased Annual Giving by 27% Doubled Foundation Giving Endowed five new scholarships Increased Event Giving (Mt Aloysius Golf Tournament) by 26% Increased Graduating Students Participation Rate by 62% Increased alumni participation rate by 5%.
Thanks to Jennifer and her team for a seasoned professional approach to the business of raising money for scholarships that allow so many first generation (to college) students to attend Mt Aloysius. TECHNOLOGY In my inaugural remarks, I outlined what I called the “Mt Aloysius Compact”—and outlined the proposition that we would endeavor to produce graduates who are “job-ready, community-ready and technology-ready.” We continue to invest heavily and appropriately in the hardware side of this equation. Here is a top ten list of recent improvements implemented in-house by our IT team: 1. Completed essential updates to Jenzabar system: Upgraded Jenzabar EX system (enrollment, student info and success, financial aid system) to recently released version 4.6.5 of the software. This version contains information essential for Financial Aid and Registration report requirements on student data. Completed this upgrade in house rather than sit “on deck” for 6 months until Jenzebar could do it for us at a cost. Customized Jenzabar to allow better “views” with live data for users, courses and enrollments. These views are looked at by our Identity manager/vault and do things such as create email addresses, user accounts, etc. for all new staff, faculty, students. In conjunction with the vault, these “views” automatically populates users, enrollments, and courses in Blackboard. Our good investments and excellent IT staff have allowed us to develop a reputation as a “super user” and currently we are assisting Misericordia and Juniata on their use of Jenzebar EX. Tied Bookstore MBS system to Jenzabar significantly reducing data entry and increasing mobility for bookstore operations on and off line.
2. Completed multiple technology replacements on schedule Bookstore software and hardware replacement and upgrade to compensate for EOL (end-oflife) issues at end of 2014, and to allow student ID card system in the bookstore at some point in the future. Blackboard Transact upgrade to allow the use of MAC-Flex funds for students and to provide the necessary linkages for use of Student ID card in the Bookstore in the future. Replaced 115 more computers (along with the 100 last summer) on schedule with our replacement cycle plan: 20 Radiology lab computers in Pierce Hall, 25 faculty laptops, 20 computers in Old Main basement classroom, 50 computers in administrative offices.
Replaced network infrastructure as per tech plan: 10 Gig connections to all buildings now in place. Replaced outdated HR and Payroll operation with completely on line Abra systems: which allow much more user friendly options and provide access to a website where employees can track their days, payroll, time and benefits. This system also significantly reduces paper reports and should further limit the risk of identity theft.
3. Completed numerous technology upgrades to better crosslink campus—IT Department worked hard all summer 2014 to implement new equipment, update older systems and in general “sync up” our various communications technology systems across the campus. Thanks to Suzanne Campbell, Rich Shea and their team for helping to fulfill the Mount Aloysius “compact.”
4. Completed several security related technology enhancements across campus Card Access security system: Hirsch Velocity now programs access cards that operate campus wide and serve as a single point of transaction for building entry, meal purchase, bookstore purchases and (in the future) off site purchases at local stores and restaurants. The building Card Access system came online this semester for the ACWC and for residence halls Misciagna/McAuley/Ihmsen. On deck is St. Gertrude Hall and St. Joseph Hall. Camera security system: with multiple cameras now in public spaces across campus, we rarely deal with a student misconduct case where we don’t have access and video records that help clarify the facts of the situation. ACWC fire system: fully integrated to the campus-wide fire system. This will allow security and local FD to pinpoint problem areas or alarm locations. The fire PA system voice message capabilities in the ACWC can now be building wide or room specific.
5. Installed latest generation nursing simulator: The new simulator is powered by a single laptop computer, a 23" touchscreen monitor and a single CAT 6 cable making it very portable. The older model had a laptop computer, 2 monitors, and a desktop computer with a control box which was used to run it. The new simulator allows the students to practice every type of delivery that they may encounter in the field. Some of its key features are a fully intubatable airway with chest rise, IV arms for medication/Fluid administration, Bilateral Radial Pulses, and Maternal speech. Along with the adult in the package it also included a computerized newborn with cyanosis and pulses on which the students can practice intubation, do chest compressions, and listen to realistic heart and lung sounds. 17
6. Installed new backup generator to supply power to server room and telecom demarc room in Main: IT Director Rich Shea says it all—“I cannot stress how important this is to the College. This is probably the single most important enhancement in the last ten years because it guarantees continuous power to our servers and telecommunications equipment. Even though other buildings such as the ACWC have power generation no communications were possible (Internet or phones) without this generator for the server room and telecom demarc room.” The College has long been known for producing graduates who are ready to work on day one, and who understand what it means to be of service to their communities. It is the strong feeling of many in this internet age that the complete education now requires a demonstrated facility with communications technology. A college-wide Technology Committee, chaired by Senior Vice President Campbell has been hard at work on four key initiatives: That every student will experience an on-line course while here That every student will take three credits in communications technology (at beginning, after two years and at end of four years) That every student will experience an agreed percentage of technology-intensive courses That every student will experience a technology-rich environment during their time here. Two and four are for all intents complete. Evaluations are on-going for tasks one and three. I want to thank publicly the members of this committee for their devotion to the end goal through several permutations beyond their control. One caveat to all this discussion of technology and education, some words from Don Randel of the Mellon Foundation, which has funded educational innovation across the country for generations. In an address last year to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, he warned: “There is no disruptive technology that will take the place of a grownup asking a young person to write about something of substance and then sitting with that young person, challenging him or her to observe more acutely and to frame a stronger argument in support of an original idea. This is an activity that must be undertaken thousands of times every day all across the country if we are to develop the minds that will ensure the nation’s welfare in every sense.” Thank you all for continuing to challenge the minds that are entrusted to us each year in these ways. CAMPUS CONSTRUCTION Senior VP for Administration Suzanne Campbell will give you a more detailed analysis. But several quick updates. 1. Completed “Campus Master Plan (CMP) 2000”: financed and finished last two projects on the original CMP (planning for which began in 1997), the $2.5M refurbishing of Alumni Hall and the ACWC. The former project began literally on the day I arrived on campus in 2010, with $1M in RACP financing secured by President Dillon and $1.5M in additional costs yet to finance. The ACWC—where some of you have made good use of the Wellness Center with its 39 pieces of cardio equipment—has 18
been open for business since last November. Half our Business Department including chair Asonovich and our entire Office for Institutional Advancement under Vice President Jennifer Dubuque are housed there. Last semester, we taught 25 classes in 11 different courses spanning five disciplines every week in the three classroom spaces in the ACWC. 2. Initiated New Campus Master Plan: engaged Derck and Edson (D&E) to help College build CMP 2025. Already completed a dozen on and off-campus focus groups, conference calls and team meetings. Reviewed two successive D&E PowerPoint presentations with campus stakeholders (including two trustees; group of about 20 people). Refining “wish list” in a process that will take at least another year and that will coordinate nicely with the next Mount Aloysius “Strategic Plan 2025.” 3. Completed Implementation of Space Study Stage One: we reconfigured ten spaces over the summer after an external study by DC-based EYP and lots of internal feedback: I briefed the President's Executive Council and the Associate Deans on these various moves, but wanted to make sure there was an update available to all of you. These moves are all part of a concerted effort to make the most efficient and effective use of the limited space available to us. In every case, potential moves were vetted with those directly affected (their idea in many cases) and I think it's fair to say that at this point all parties are very happy with their new destinations. Here is a quick summary: More Privacy for Human Resources: HR has been moved to the old Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs office to allow more privacy. The SVP office is now right next to mine on the first floor of Old Main and the executive assistant is across the hall. More Synergy for OSSA and OCS: The Office of Student Success and Advising (OSSA) and the Office of Career Services (OCS) will be moving together into the suite of offices o. the first floor of Old Main previously occupied by the staff of the Vice President of Institutional Advancement (who moved to ACWC last fall). The OSSA/OCS space includes 5 offices and reception area, where students can wait in some privacy for their appointments. All in One Place for Law and Justice: Law and justice Department Chair Dr. Julie Smith and two new professors (political science and crim) will be moving into space in Old Main opposite the current offices of other members of the department (Professors Mansley and Bobak). This allows the entire department to be co-located for the first time. Registrar with OSSA: The main Registrar’s Office has moved to the space formerly occupied by the Vice President for Institutional Advancement. You will see that a service area has been erected in the space and both Deanna and Nancy will be working out of this office. Chris Lovett will now occupy the space previously held by Director of Communications Jack Coyle (see below) and Sally 19
Weber is in office space one door down. That puts the Registrar’s operations contiguous to OSSA, with whom they work so often. Music Nearer to Chapel: Professor Nancy Way is moving to a space closer to the chapel, which best suits the musical part of her daily work. Jack Coyle will move into the office she previously occupied, also in Old Main. Lights Up for Art: The Art Department moved during the spring semester from the third floor in Old Main (co-located with Nursing) down to the ground floor of Old Main, which Dr. Talbot tells me is larger space and (incredibly enough) has more natural light. Room for Growth: Nursing has expanded into the old Art Department space on third floor Old Main—much needed new classroom and a commuter technology “lounge” if that term can ever be applied to a MAC nursing student They can now breathe a bit more deeply!! Admissions all together now: VP for Enrollment Frank Crouse has moved into the old registrar's office, and Connie, other admissions staff and their work studies are in the adjoining office. With the current "cross the hall" locations of Financial Aid and the four admissions directors, this puts all our Admissions Office personnel front and center proximate to the door through which the vast majority of our prospective students enter. Both the space study authors and all of our people involved in the move felt this made great sense.
Senior Vice Presidents: in turn, the Senior VP for Administrative Affairs, Suzanne Campbell, returns to her original office (where Frank sat for the last two years, but minus his pop art office motif). The Senior VP for Academic Affairs (when we have one in January) will occupy the office immediately next to the President's Office, and his/her Executive Assistant (Carol Eberhart) will move into Suzanne's old office. This puts the President and the Senior Academic and Administrative leaders in contiguous space for the first time in a while. 4. Completed a campus wide energy audit. We will now work with Honeywell on equipment upgrades and cost saving programs campus wide. Focused areas for significant savings include lighting improvement and controls, boiler replacement, upgrades in building management systems and more efficient motors. 5. Completed painting of all dormitories and classroom space on a schedule we put in place two years ago. 6. Continued upgrades to water/sewer/heat facilities: we have replaced more than 1200 linear feet of piping, much of it underground, and replaced more than 75 boilers/valves/manholes since we began a major upgrade of water, heat and sewer lines at the College more than three years ago. I can not calculate how many middle of the night headaches this work prevents. 7.
Upgrading the grounds that surround these buildings: by mid fall we will have 1.5 miles of trails, complete with marked foliage highlights and bird watching guides, starting behind the baseball field and winding down to the old tennis court. We will also have four multi use courts (mostly tennis) in that 20
area as well. Both the trail and the courts are completely financed thanks to a first time $246,000 grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. 266 entities competed for these grants; we were one of 48 awards, and the only one to be endorsed by all four caucuses. 8. Completed upgrades to athletic fields: which got plenty of use over the summer as we hosted high school baseball all-star tryouts, the local Cresson (14 and under) softball team, a whole host of baseball clubs from Cresson to Johnstown—including the premier AAABA League and 29 high school volleyball teams—all at Mt Aloysius. All of that exposure is especially good if you work in admissions or the athletic department. 9. Working hard with architects and a general contractor to re-purpose the old Rec Gym into a multipurpose area with a cyber café, technology commons, student activity center and large dinner space. This project was jump-started by a $500k gift from former board chair Joe Sheetz. About half this space will be outfitted to host large dinners and gatherings. 10. Plans already underway to redesign and refurbish the current cafeteria over the winter break (with $250k in outside funds already raised). We have just never been able to attempt a modernization here because we depend on that space for events like honor assemblies, scholarship dinners, athletic and other banquets. The new Bertchi Center solves that space problem. DIGITAL GROTTO We don’t keep a guest log down there, but I know that many of you have visited the Digital Grotto, in the basement of Alumni Hall. I like that you have to walk through all the costumes for our school plays to get to the grotto itself—because I think the Digital Grotto represents a similar opportunity for transformation—of people or ideas. It gives us new tools with which to teach both in the classroom and in other less traditional forums, and I hope that you will take advantage of this resource. Three updates. First, we have again expanded the resources available down there, with three new cameras that do both photo and video, upgraded software and our new Phantom drone. We now have six production stations getting tons of use, with 127 new videos this year. We have two new grad assistants, Kolby Wasnick and Jalissa Westover, both working on their MBA degrees, and they have both been cross the board active undergraduates. We hope to see the same energy in this new capacity under Sam’s tutelage. Second, this is still a relatively new phenomenon for us at MAC and in higher education but already key to our progress. This lab is a learning facility for interested students, it’s a production ground for faculty and staff, and it’s a studio from which the message of Mount Aloysius can be distributed globally. Our staff and students can film three-camera interviews in an eight person controlled setting with advanced recording, prompting, lighting and set control. The lab provides green screen capabilities allowing editors to inlay custom backgrounds or graphics to match the speaker’s message. Post-production equipment includes multiple video editing PCs for student and communications staff use. Our overall goal is for the lab to meet and expand the multimedia goals of the college as well as keep pace with the technology of our competitors. Third, this is just one step on our path to graduating students who are “technology ready.” We are trying to use the arsenal of technology tools down there and across the campus—especially at the library:
to introduce more blended learning
to build tutorials on things like cat dissection and financial aid (videos on both available!!) 21
to deliver themed products for admissions, alumni, HR, nursing and my office and
to tape interviews for wider dissemination, like our Northern Ireland retrospective with Ambassador Sharkey and the BSU’s interview with OIC President Tony Ross on MLK.
Let me demonstrate a little of those last two products. First, a clip courtesy of our most recent tool, the “Phantom” drone that permits aerial shots of the campus. Second, a snippet from our latest Digital Grotto Conversation, the fourth in our series of Mt Aloysius “Conversations” now available on the web. Finally, a clip from one of series of faculty interviews profiling programs and majors. Check out the Digital Grotto offerings at the YouTube icon on our website cover page every once in a while. Here is a master list of just the new Grotto products since 2012. And browse the website, our facebook, twitter and flickr pages on occasion—lots of surprises in there—like over 200 photo galleries from different college events. COMMUNITY SERVICE Community Service is alive, well and prolific at Mt Aloysius. In April, we completed our fourth year-long survey of community service at Mt Aloysius. More than 800 students performed almost 12,000 hours of service on 250 projects with 189 separate community partners. These are truly astounding numbers. And I say that as someone who spent the 12 years prior to Mt Aloysius as CEO of arguably the two largest volunteer organizations in the entire state. Community Service Reports The “street” value of all that work is almost $250,000. That’s $250,000 in volunteer work by Mt Aloysius students in one school year. Most of the work is done right here in the Southern Alleghenies. 115 of the local projects promote health and wellness activities, 19 of them address the environment, 35 involve education, and 9 projects addressed the needs of veterans in our community. Some of these volunteers travel well beyond our footprint to share their talents—to Harrisburg, Clearfield, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. And besides now traditional service trips by over 30 students to Guyana and New Orleans, four students and Chris Koren traveled to Ireland and Northern Ireland this summer, got first-hand look at Belfast and Carlow and made effective presentations to their Mercy college colleagues at the Mercy International House in Dublin. We thank Sister Helen Marie and all the faculty and staff who help to ensure this dimension at Mt Aloysius, so fundamental to our history and to our mission, to this day. We also thank all of you who have joined these efforts over many years. We thank all our Connections instructors who pound home the message of community service and we thank all in this audience who are volunteers in your community. I think this kind of info is central to the story of Mt Aloysius and of its reach beyond the front gate. COMMUNITY RELATIONS (TOWN GOWN)
Though this is not something I have discussed on this occasion previously, it is worth comment four years into our service here. The College continues to lead efforts to enhance town-gown relations in Cresson and to build partnerships with the larger regional community. Ten quick examples:
Delivered the keynote address at this year’s Cresson American Legion Veterans Day Dinner Dance (I try to do one major Cresson event each year), attended several local veterans’ gatherings, met informally with Cresson area elected leaders. My remarks | Cresson American Legion Mainliner
Encouraged PEC members to take active roles in local organizations (VPs Jennifer and Jane at Cresson fall and spring festivals, Senior VP Suzanne with Cresson fire and law enforcement events) and at regional events (we had over 60 student volunteers led by Jane, Elaine Grant and Chris Koren at parades/festivals in Hollidaysburg, Johnstown and Ebensburg).
Participated in our first graduation for Mercy Youth Initiative Program, founded by VP Sister Helen Marie, as it continued a third successive year of outreach to students from the Penn Cambria School District who will hopefully become first-generation in their families to attend college. The program’s monthly skill-building and career/self-development sessions are designed to open a path to higher education for families who otherwise might not seek it. These ninth-grade students began the program as seventh graders and enjoyed three years of input, mentoring, campus environs, and skill-building activities. Read the article.
Made our Athletic facilities and fields available to the local community. In 2013-14, we hosted the Altoona Youth Soccer Organization, the Cresson Middle School girls’ softball team, the AAABA baseball program, PIAA basketball playoffs, the Altoona/Johnstown Diocese 7th and 8th grade boys and girls championship basketball games, the Altoona Mirror Classic– All Star Girls and Boys Basketball, and a local girls’ volleyball summer league (with 29 teams), almost all of which events Michele and I personally visit. We have also offered membership in the Wellness Center to members of the local community. Mirror Classic Article
Hosted third edition of Pennsylvania State Police Camp Cadet; numbers for area 12-to 16-year olds were up from 30 first year to 48 (2013) and 54 (2014). 2014 Camp Cadet Video
Utilized a first-ever Buhl Foundation grant to create and host a Summer Health Careers 23
Camp for rising high school juniors and seniors from local area. The 3-day overnight camp offered handson learning experiences with faculty in each of our sciences and health studies programs, including nursing. Health Camp Photos
Continued to encourage our staff to lend their educational resources and talents to local community endeavors. By way of example,
MAC Career Development professionals, led by Christy Magee taught crucial employment skills (needed after re-entry) to a population of offenders at FCI Loretto. This class created opportunities for job shadowing and networking with area organizations and our Criminology students
Career Development and Student Activities staff taught two classes at the Wise Women of Blair County Women’s Empowerment Workshop: one on professional dress and comportment;” and the other (working with business students club—Enactus) on résumé writing
Three Mt Aloysius faculty/staff helped conduct an Improv Night at the federal prison in Loretto: Elizabeth Mansley, Nathan Magee, Jess Maxon and eight students performed at the SRO event. Several of the improv games hit home with the crowd (dating game, worst line ever, good/bad/ugly advice, the alphabet game and press conference)
Our admissions team hosted (for fourth straight year) and Frank Crouse and I delivered luncheon remarks at “Superconference,” a gathering of high school students, their principals and guidance counselors from Blair and Cambria Schools. It drew about 200 students and 15 principals to the College.
SPEAKER SERIES: CITIZENSHIP AND THE COMMON GOOD
We had an extraordinary run with the themes for our last three annual Speaker Series. We began three years ago with the year on “Civil Discourse”. I introduced the topic at the spring version of this address, the College hosted a first rate panel on the theme during inauguration (which ended up being televised statewide on PCN), we hosted six outstanding speakers on the topic and we ultimately produced a monograph on the 2011-12 Speaker Series which was officially received by the Librarian of Congress himself. Civil Discourse Monograph In the second year of our speaker’s series we turned to the topic of “Hospitality: Finding Home in a Changing World.” As in the first year, our efforts built on the theme with our students at Orientation, at Convocation, during the All College liturgy and even in some weekly lessons down at Little People’s Place (our campus child care center). We had another run of exceptional speakers who in most cases spent substantial time at the college after their formal lectures—in classroom presentations and discussions over meals with students and faculty. That second annual effort produced a monograph of six outstanding lectures on the theme from David Shribman and Cindy Skrzycki’s lecture on “The Hospitality of Writing” to Bishop Mark’s lecture on “The Theology of Hospitality” to John Granger’s convocation talk on “Finding Home in an Often Inhospitable World” to Dr. Jim Walsh’s peroration as “Hospitality as a Context for Foreign Policy” all the way to the Commencement address where Patricia Rooney spoke about hospitality as an element of her faith, as part of her ancestral heritage and as a fundamental part of her husband’s work as Ambassador to Ireland. Hospitality Monograph Our theme this year was “21st Century Citizenship: The Common Good.” The phrase presented us with at least three separate sub-themes—about the value of citizenship, about the idea of common good, and about the special challenges of the times in which we live, the 21st century. Citizenship Op-Ed As Americans, we aspire to Supreme Court Justice Brandeis claim that “the most important office in our democracy is that of private citizen.” We endorse the idea that that citizenship is a “higher calling” (even if the percentage of us who vote doesn’t always reflect that belief). At Mt Aloysius, we have been engaging the topic with our community since day one last fall in “Connections” classes, at Orientation and in nine allcollege lectures. A quick summary of those major lectures: Judge Klementik gave us a three part definition of citizenship at Convocation—“the personally responsible citizen; the participatory citizen; and the justice oriented citizen.” VP Aide Terry Wright described a seamless citizenship “from the nation’s capital to the neighborhood” 25
Sister Marie Michele Donnelly focused on the “spiritual journey to the common good” Sister Helen Marie moderated and Drs. Costanza and Dragani coordinated a faculty dialogue on the topic from the perspectives of four distinct faith traditions Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America President Tony Ross talked about Dr. Martin Luther King’s notion of a more inclusive citizenship Former President and ethics theologian Sister Mary Ann Dillon argued that the common good and citizenship are fundamental tenets of Catholic Social Teaching Ambassador James Sharkey focused on a more global notion of citizenship Commencement speakers Shribman and Skrczcki concentrated on the direct connection between education and citizenship. In the course of the 2013-14 academic year we heard perspectives from
a local Judge and Trustee of the College a long-time aide to the Vice President of the US the CEO of a national minority job training organization an Ambassador whose service spanned four continents a former College President three Sisters of Mercy leaders a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper editor and a national news correspondent who doubles as teacher of writing
These nine events received good local print and TV coverage and provided a unifying theme within college departments/activities for personnel, for students and even for our day care program (who designed teaching opportunities of the meaning of citizen and citizenship). Here is a quick reprise of last year’s speakers. Speaker Series Highlights Video Before moving on to the subject of this year’s Speaker Series, I want to thank the numerous people who played significant roles in this signature endeavor: the members of our Speaker Series committee (Chair, Tom Foley, Dr. Becky Zukowski, Dr. Jane Grassadonia, Sr. Helen Marie Burns, Dr. Michael Jones, Dr. Glenn Neff, Director of Communications Jack Coyle, Dr. Dave Haschak, Dr. Barbara Cook), whose names appear on the screen, all of whom helped with individual lectures and some of whom helped incorporate the topic into our Connections curriculum; Elaine Grant, Chris Koren and Dr. Jane Grassadonia who built the topic into orientation, RA and other activities; and Tom Fleming and Carla Nelen, who helped handle the detail for many of these visitors. Can we give them all a hand. Thank you.
SPEAKER SERIES: THE GOOD LIFE Let me say first how delighted I was to read sophomore Courtney Edmundson’s piece on this year’s “theme” in the orientation issue of the Belltower. Thank you Professor Costanzo for helping students get out copy three weeks before school even started!! I want to say just a few words about the connection of this theme to our larger purpose of education. Belltower Article At Mt Aloysius, we invite all to participate in this debate during our academic year and we hope to advance the conversation a bit with the speakers who have already agreed to join us on campus: 26
A Jesuit President of Catholic universities who will deliver our convocation address on the topic An NYU professor with a Ph.D in Philosophy who will deliver the Fall Honors lecture A Sister of Mercy expert in Catherine McAuley’s notion of a good life who will join us for Mercy Week We have identified four or five other aspects of the Good Life that we hope to cover with other speakers, including health, work/life balance, culture, etc. And we are excited about a spring semester event where groups of us will propose a definition of the good life by decade—the music, food, entertainment and other markers of a good life in the 50s, 60s, 70s, etc. We are also delighted that our Connections seminars will all start with a reading entitled “The Common Good,” thanks to Dr. Michael Jones, that outlines in crisp, probing language the challenges inherent in our theme. I think our students will have plenty of questions with which to pepper these many visitors to our campus.
Reassessment about purpose and hope at the college.
With all the change inherent in my message today, there is one thing about Mt Aloysius that does not change at all—and that is our fundamental mission: 94% of Mt Aloysius students need financial aid from the College to get through school 82% of Mt Aloysius students work at least a part time job, some full time jobs 59% of Mt Aloysius students are the first generation in their family to go to college 55% of our students are Pell-eligible (the federal need-based criterion) 41% of Mt Aloysius students come from families with total incomes under $38k a year 35% of Mt Aloysius students are mature students, at least five years out of high school 100% of Mt Aloysius students volunteer in the community during their time here. Those numbers speak directly to mission and purpose, and helped define us more than any soliloquy I might offer. And when I speak on behalf of Mt Aloysius to elected officials, to area community leaders, to potential donors and to supporters of this college, I share these numbers with them. I also highlight three related points: one, that our total cost per student is only slightly more than that offered at area state funded institutions (and less than Penn State main campus); two, that our percentage of Pell-eligible students with significant financial need was much higher than at most state funded institutions (and 50% higher than any local four year institution); and three, that a Mt Aloysius education is an excellent value, centered in very concrete ways on the issues of life long values. All three points are critical—we keep costs down, we don’t shrink form serving the hard to serve, and we don’t abandon the promotion of lifelong values in our teaching model. All three of these practices, practices that we tie directly to the mission handed down to us by our Mercy founders, have helped Mt Aloysius to be seen increasingly as a model of how to do higher education right. Finally by way of opening this new academic year—just a few words on the message of hope that is so central to our Mount Aloysius experience and with which we began in the words from our 2014 valedictorian. Last year, I was part of a national conversation among Catholic College Presidents on the impact of Pope Francis, his message and his methods, on our campuses and our students. Some of the other presidents pointed to specific quotations from the Pope, including “shepherds should smell like the sheep” and “our shoes should have dust on them.” The legacy of these lines is that leaders need to be amongst the people if they are truly going to be leading (which has something to do with “smelling like sheep!”) and that sometimes we need to travel “unpaved” roads to fulfill our missions. I think those lines have real meaning here for Mount Aloysius as an institution and personal meaning for each of you as faculty and members of staff. You are walking the walk with us as we reach out to many students who have uncertain economic status, to some students who have never had a chance to shine in the classroom, to mature students who are making perhaps their last effort at higher education. Mount Aloysius provides unique opportunities for a diverse array of students and in our own way I think, if we don’t exactly “smell like sheep,” we are at least getting “dust on our shoes.” And I thank each and every one of you for your role in creating, protecting, projecting and driving that model (of how to do education right) every single day. Let’s all have another great year at Mt Aloysius. 28