|Q&A with Daniel Helwig, Vice President of Advancement
Editor’s Note: Daniel S. Helwig, former dean of college advancement at York College, joined LVC as vice president of advancement last summer. We asked him a few questions about his new home.
1. You have an impressive background in higher education. What brought you to LVC?
I have known President Thayne professionally for a few years and was always impressed by his leadership style and vision for Lebanon Valley College. LVC is well known and well regarded regionally for the great faculty-student learning, research, and collaboration that occur each year. When this position opened, I thought I could play a role in the College’s future.
I was also familiar with some staff members and knew that I would join colleagues committed to LVC. I admire their positive attitude and great work ethic, as well as their pure love for, and dedication to, Lebanon Valley College.
2. You arrived at an exciting time in the College’s history. In what ways do you see our new strategic plan, Envision 2020, improving The Valley experience for our students and faculty?
I was pleased to learn that the Envision 2020 planning process involved the entire campus community, including our external family. The plan’s four strategic focus areas, among which are Graduating World-Ready Students and Developing Inclusive Excellence and High Performance, will enable LVC to grow from being a great regional College to an institution of greater prominence. When I meet with alumni and regional leaders, I hear employers say that they look for a next generation workforce who are citizens of the world. By putting “world-ready students” at the forefront of our plan, we prepare our students for great success.
3. Several building projects are underway, including building a health professions center and the Shankroff Tennis Center, and revitalizations to Vernon and Doris Bishop Library and Frederic K. Miller Chapel. How can alumni and friends of the College play an important role?
During the early part of my career, a wise college trustee said that colleges and universities are only as strong as their alumni base. Years later, this wisdom holds true. Connecting the College’s plans with the passions of alumni and friends is one of the most crucial jobs of my team. It is a fundamental truth that Lebanon Valley College can only reach its potential with the support of alumni and friends. The good news is that we’ve achieved great success in previous campaigns and there is clearly a lot of love for the Valley.
The projects you mentioned are significant and exciting capital projects. If we want to be a more competitive College, yet minimize any impact on the cost of attendance at LVC, we need alumni and friends to help.
4. Why should a donor support LVC?
Our society has always prized opportunity for all. Although many nonprofit institutions make this part of their mission, nowhere is it more evident than in higher education. Colleges and universities transform the lives of their students.
At LVC, this truth is arguably more profound. If you look at LVC alumni, they share a common earnestness and modesty. Many did not come from privileged backgrounds yet, as a result of their educational experience at The Valley, they emerge with confidence, a sense of the possible, a feeling of family, and generally, transform themselves into society’s leaders. Therefore, a dollar invested in the LVC experience goes further than those invested elsewhere does.
5. U.S. News & World Report annually ranks LVC #2 for “Best Value” Colleges. How do scholarships play a role in such national acknowledgments?
Value proposition—how much does a student have to invest and what value he or she receives for his or her investment—is a common topic. At LVC, scholarships help lower the investment required; thus drastically improving the College’s value proposition. We provide exceptional value for an exceptional educational experience, among the region’s best. I am equally impressed by our outstanding retention and graduation rates, which are also acknowledged by U.S. News and others. Scholarships enable us to remain affordable, and therefore retain and graduate students at a higher rate.
6. LVC will celebrate its 150th anniversary this year. Do you and your team have any special events planned to celebrate this historic milestone?
Birthdays are always a special occasion. There will be numerous opportunities for alumni and friends to participate beginning with our kickoff celebration Feb. 23, 2016. There will be a historic website where people can contribute stories, reminiscences, and photos. It should be a fun year!
While the year will celebrate 150 years of achievement, including in October 2016 at the College’s biggest Homecoming ever, it will also be a good time to look toward the future and another 150 years of producing high-impact graduates and leaders.
7. How can alumni and friends collaborate with the College to assure its legacy for the next 150 years?
Each alumna/us that walks across the Commencement stage becomes a representative of Lebanon Valley College. The first thing each alumnus can do is to demonstrate their pride and communicate to potential students, friends, co-workers, and neighbors that the quality of education they received at LVC is worth pursuing.
I hope that every alumnus helps celebrate our 150th anniversary with a gift—a proxy for a worthy education. I hope that the 150th can be a springboard for alumni to become more passionate about their alma mater and consider annual support—of whatever size they feel they are capable of at their stage of life—as a manifestation of their feelings toward The Valley.
We are fortunate in that many alumni and friends support Lebanon Valley College at the leadership level, which in turn helps us make great strides forward. We will need additional and even greater support as we move forward, to become the institution that we can be, and to serve the next generation of students.
8. What do you love most about LVC?
That LVC is transformative. We do more with fewer resources than most colleges and universities in the U.S. There is incredible potential to make something dramatic happen here if we can attract additional resources.
On a personal level, I don’t think I have ever been in a place that was more engaging and friendly, and I’ve never felt more part of a family. I’m deeply appreciative of our culture at the Valley.