Opening Breakfast Remarks by President Lewis E. Thayne,
August 22, 2013
Good morning and thank you for coming. My name is Lewis Thayne and I am the 18th president of Lebanon Valley College. It’s wonderful to see so many people here and to have so much energy in the room. How many of you are here for the first time? I extend a special welcome to our new staff and faculty members. For our visitors, I bid you a warm welcome to Lebanon Valley College.
This breakfast is a tradition at LVC, an opportunity for all of us to mark the beginning of a new academic year. I wish to add my thanks to Beth Esler and Wendy Carfagno for planning this event and to the Metz staff for preparing our breakfast today.
My wife, Dorry, is in the audience and I hope many of you have had an opportunity to say hello. Dorry has become an integral part of campus life and through her work at Kreiderheim has created a warm and inviting place for many events and gatherings.
There are a number of important people I would like to acknowledge this morning. As is the custom, I would like each of these individuals to stand as I call their names. Please hold your applause until the end.
Board of Trustee Members: Wes Dellinger ’75, P’05, chair of the board; Suzanne Arnold H’96, honorary trustee; William Lehr, Esq., member and chair emeritus;
Dr. Lynn Phillips, member and former chair; Morton Spector H’02, member emeritus;
Tina Washington H’91, P’86; member emerita;
and the Rev. Dr. Dennis Williams H’90, member emeritus
Annville Township Officials: Bernie Dugan, chief, Annville Township Police Department; Dick Charles, Annville Township commissioner; Dr. Jim Scott, Annville Township commissioner; Carol Stewart, Annville Township assistant secretary; and Nick Yingst, Annville Township administrator
Annville Township Board and Committee Members: Carl and Mary Jane Gacono, Annville Memorial Day Parade co-chairs; Steve Kreamer, Annville Township Economic Development Authority; Ruth Krebs, Friends of Old Annville; Kathleen Moe, Quittie Creek Nature Park Committee; and James Ruiz, Annville Township Planning Committee
Fellow Educators: Dr. John “Ski” Sygielski, Harrisburg Area Community College, president; Dr. Steven Houser, Annville-Cleona School District, superintendent; and Ralph Carfagno, Milton Hershey School, senior director of alumni relations and programs
The Pennsylvania Legislature: Representative Mauree Gingrich, Representative Rosemarie Swanger, Barbara Shutter from Senator Folmer’s office, and Jason Lane from Congressman Dent’s office
Lebanon County: Jo Ellen Litz, commissioner
Media Representatives: Brad Rhen, Lebanon Daily News; Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News; and Barbara Miller, The Patriot News
Other Members of the College Community of Friends, Neighbors, Emeriti,
and Supporters: Bill Ames, Lebanon County and Good Samaritan Hospital; Larry Bowman, Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce; Frank Dixon and Rick Scott, Dixon Foundation; David Dowling, Fort Indiantown Gap; Rev. Kenneth Klingborg, Annville Methodist Church, and Becky Witherite, Fulton Bank
There are also five new members of our community who I would like to introduce this morning, in order of their arrival on campus: Janet Wiley, vice president of advancement; Megan Potteiger, director our Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Educational Technology; Dr. Greg Buckley, associate dean of graduate studies & continuing education; Tom Maher, interim vice president of finance; and Steve O’Day, special assistant to the president for innovative programs.
Many of you attended the Inauguration Ceremony in Lutz Auditorium in April and heard my remarks, so you know how deeply I believe in the College and in the importance of our mission. That strong communities support education, we all believe. Seeing all of you and after introducing so many distinguished supporters of the College, however, we can go farther: we are a strong community because we support the education of those who will be our leaders in the future. At Lebanon Valley College, we are doing more than educating students. Our graduates take their education and build careers, they build lives, and they contribute to their communities. They also go on to contribute to society by working to solve the problems of our time. This is the public role of a private college and it is important to remind ourselves how important and how extensive this work truly is. This is work that must begin anew each year. It is work in which we—all of us and our communities—find renewal and energy.
In the intensity of our daily efforts, we often forget that the idea of a college offering a liberal education in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, was truly revolutionary. Dr. Mike Green, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty, shared with me some passages from the very first catalog of the College. The five principle goals of education were listed as: speech, reason, taste, imagination, and conscience. These are higher order skills. The founders were not aiming for an education that would help students land their first job. These are the goals of an education for a lifetime, deeply rooted in a faith in the individual person and the value of each person and his or her impact on society.
Highlights and Accomplishments of the Past Academic Year
In talking about notable events of the past year, I would like to depart from tradition and I do so for an important reason. I want to focus on a very special event in our history.
Today, I am announcing that Lebanon Valley College has been named as the recipient of the estate of Dr. John “Jack” Allwein, Class of 1956. According to the Advancement Office, the value of Dr. Allwein’s estate is estimated to be in the range of $5 million. When it is settled, Dr. Allwein’s gift will be the largest estate gift in the 147 year history of the College.
In his lifetime, Dr. Allwein established three endowed scholarship funds at LVC. In our communications with the executor of the estate, she has indicated that Dr. Allwein’s intention was for his estate gift to be used for the endowment of financial aid in keeping with his commitment to providing an affordable education. The existing awards are for Lebanon County students and are based on financial need. This gift takes us back to our foundations, to the citizens of the region, and to the power of education and of individuals to influence communities. The Allwein gift is especially relevant today when completing a college degree can make an enormous difference in an individual’s career prospects and lifelong accomplishments.
Dr. Allwein was a chemistry major at LVC who studied with Dr. H. Anthony Neidig ’43, late professor emeritus
of chemistry, and commuted. Although his philanthropy supports the College and the high school graduates of Lebanon County, Dr. Allwein built a life and career that took him all over the world and in which he served the White House during the administration of President John F. Kennedy. An LVC staff member noted something he said to her: “education is the key to solving so many of society’s ills.”
Clearly, Dr. Allwein found meaning in a legacy that will endure at Lebanon Valley College. He did not give us the opportunity to thank him during his lifetime for this extraordinary gift, but I ask that we stand and applaud his legacy now.
In the third week of September, I have been invited to the White House to represent Lebanon Valley College and receive on our behalf the President’s Volunteer Service Award. I will not be the only president there but I will certainly be the proudest. This past spring, the College was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes community service by students who attend institutions of higher education. Our students completed more than 23,000 hours of service last year, an accomplishment that is literally phenomenal considering their course load, participation in athletics and student government, music and drama, and so many other aspects of college life. There are 5,000 institutions of higher education in the U.S. Lebanon Valley College was one of 600 colleges and universities who were recognized in this challenge sponsored by the White House. I would like to thank the Rev. Dr. Paul Fullmer, College chaplain and director of service and volunteerism; Greg Krikorian, vice president of student affairs and dean of students; the entire team in student affairs; and faculty members and alumni volunteers whose work was recognized with this national award. By the way, this recognition was not simply conferred on the College; it was a challenge. We applied for it, happily, because we want recognition for our students and we will be doing so again.
I would like to report on our athletic program and mention our student-athletes. Our overall record in athletic competition last year was 220-149-4, that’s almost a .600 winning percentage. Three All-Americans, two Academic All-Americans, three Conference Championships, three Conference Coaches of the Year (Stacey Hollinger, Melissa Weidler, and Joy Graeff). I speak for us all when I say how much I admire the skills and dedication of our coaching staff and of our athletic staff at the College. I had the privilege of welcoming the new football players who join a squad that will number 104 under coach, Jim Monos. Jim shared that this is his 42nd year of coaching football. (Congratulations, Jim.). I would like to add a special thanks to Rick Beard, our director of athletics, and to the many unsung heroes in our program, the part-time coaches and operations people who make our program so great.
In facilities, there have been many projects on campus this summer, including extensive work on the exterior of the Funkhouser Residence Hall. Our residence halls are not new, but our facilities staff—under the direction of Bob Riley, vice president of administration and information technology, and Don Santostefano, senior director of facilities management—have taken excellent care of them. More than any other comment from admissions visitors, we receive high praise for the quality and care of our facilities. I want to thank all of those members of housekeeping, maintenance, grounds, information technology, and audiovisual technology who worked through the summer to get us ready. This campus is a source of pride for all of us and we truly appreciate the hard work you do to make it look so good, sound so good, and work so well. Others notice and we notice, too.
In technology, we are looking to the future and the future is going to involve a much more intensive and intentional approach to the role of technology in education here at Lebanon Valley College. I have asked Bob Riley and Dave Shapiro, director of information technology, to form a task force of trustees, faculty, staff, and students to assess our current capacities and infrastructure, to study best in class programs, and to map out a plan and sequence for technology at LVC. We will use this map in our strategic and institutional planning. The newly upgraded Lynch Technology Center on the south end of Lynch as well as our technology classroom enhancement initiatives are a beginning to a longer process of upgrade and change.
Earlier, I introduced Greg Buckley, who leads our work in graduate studies & continuing education. Greg is working with Dave Shapiro in IT and others to plan and then seek faculty approval for the first fully online courses in our history. These two courses will be in the graduate MBA program and, if approved, will introduce a new dimension in course delivery for the College—significantly, without compromising on the quality of the academic mission. I am eager to move forward with a reasoned, intentional, and high quality integration of technology into our education because it will enable us to better serve the needs of our students and of our faculty. Technology should enable us to sustain and even to expand our experiential and hands-on approach to liberal education. How we do this, for what programs, and why will be important discussions in strategic planning and in curriculum planning in the coming year.
I saw so few faculty members this summer. Now that they have returned I realize why. They have been in China, Hungary, Peru, Quebec, Prague…I won’t go on. Our faculty have added to our worldliness and strengthened a global vision of education at LVC. Their ambitions in this regard are substantial and we must see that they are realized. There were many summer projects that engaged faculty and students with research and innovative projects, a summer camp in biomedical studies, a music camp. Proposals for new academic programs related to physical therapy have been completed. I am eager to receive formal reports on the high-impact experiences made possible by grants from the Edward H. Arnold and Jeanne Donlevy Arnold Program for Experiential Education as well as those from the President’s Innovation Fund.
A year ago, I announced that we had received word from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that the College had been placed on warning and that our accreditation would be in jeopardy if we did not move with urgency to meet the standards of our peers. Happily, I can announce today that we received the follow-up Middle States letter in June of this year informing the College that our warning has been lifted. I can also share with all of you that the Middle States visiting team in its April 2013 Report complimented the College and its faculty, and academic affairs leadership in particular, for their outstanding work in bringing LVC into compliance with Middle States standards in a remarkably short period of time. There is no way we could have gotten through this process without the leadership of Mike Green; Dr. Ann Damiano, associate dean of academic affairs; Dr. Deanna Dodson, professor of psychology and director of general education; and Bob Mikus, associate dean of student affairs.
Marty Parkes, executive director of marketing and communications, and I were in Washington, D.C., last week to meet with the editors and reporters from the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed. What did they want to talk about? Two things: accreditation and affordability. We have a compelling success story to tell about accreditation. And we have a compelling challenge regarding affordability, a challenge we must meet. The point here is that LVC is a story others are interested in knowing and learning from.
The Class of 2017
Some 482 new students and our returning students are making their way to campus. Our enrollment will be at an all-time high of 1,677 if our registrations follow all indications thus far. I congratulate Bill Brown, vice president of enrollment, and his staff on bringing in such a talented and diverse group of students.
Priorities for Fiscal Year 2013–2014
There is work to do over and above the extraordinarily important work of educating our students and running a college. I will mention the two top priorities.
My initial focus has to be putting in place a strategic planning process that will be highly inclusive and collaborative and that will incorporate robust, relevant research to inform our academic strategies, market position, and cost. I have brought to campus two strategic planning firms with different planning approaches and I have two others scheduled for September. This is a high priority for the trustees and for institutional leadership.
The trustees have charged me with developing enrollment strategies to expand the geographic reach of the College, to develop greater recognition for the quality of our academic programs, and to attract more resources to support the work of faculty and students. While strategic planning is a campus-based exercise, these latter priorities are externally focused. We completed a brand study and have a new and appealing set of enrollment messages centered on academic quality. This fall we will implement the first phase of a brand awareness campaign for LVC. To do so, our marketing and communications staff will work with Pavone Advertising. Janet Wiley, vice president of advancement, and her staff have planned events and outreach for me in five cities thus far. I will be spending more time this year talking to prospective donors about the value of investing in our mission at Lebanon Valley. Let me begin that outreach by asking each of you to continue your investment in our students and faculty. Charity begins at home.
I know how great our economic impact is on our community and our county. The College is one of the largest employers in Lebanon County. Its total payroll for all employees in 2012 approached $20 million. Of the total number of LVC employees, more than 400 full- and part-time faculty, administrators, and staff reside in Lebanon County. They earned more than $12 million. Of that total, almost $4 million was earned by employees residing in North Annville, South Annville, and Annville Township.
I am impressed by the special relationship LVC has with the Annville-Cleona School District. During the past 10 years, the College has donated approximately $165,000 to the school district for use in ways the district deems best. We will make another donation this morning, and I ask Dr. Steven Houser, superintendent of the Annville-Cleona School District, to join me. “Steve, on behalf of the College, I present you with this check for $17,800 to be used for purposes you determine best for the education of the children in the district.”
Mr. Dick Charles, Annville Township secretary. Dick, this is a check for $11,450. It represents half of the $22,900 that the College will voluntarily contribute to the township this academic year and which the township should use as it sees fit. The second installment of $11,450 will be delivered to the township in the spring. During the past 10 years, the College has contributed approximately $240,000 to the township in the form of these donations.
The College was the largest private donor to the Annville Streetscape Project, which revitalized the historic downtown area and included new curbs and sidewalks, landscaping, street lighting, utilities, and improved traffic flow. During the past decade, the College has given $500,000 to Annville in support of its improvement projects. Our final pledge payment was made last year at this breakfast.
However, we have made a new pledge to Annville’s Union Hose Fire Company to contribute $50,000 toward the purchase of equipment. At this time, I ask Chief Paul Longenecker and President Ron Dowey of the Union Hose Fire Company to join me at the podium. “Paul, this check for $2,600 represents our annual contribution to the Union Hose Company. Ron, this second check of $17,800 represents the first installment of our $50,000 pledge. We are very pleased to support the ongoing work of the Union Hose Company and to invest in insuring the future of your wonderful work on behalf of the whole community. “
I treasure the close town and gown relationship held by LVC and Annville Township, and look forward to seeing more great work in the coming years. This has been one of the nicest parts of my first year at LVC.
Lebanon Valley College is an exciting place and we live in challenging times for higher education. Our faculty, staff, and student leaders are already hard at work preparing innovative coursework, high impact service and research opportunities, and the foundations for an exceptional college experience. We will add the remainder of the 482 new, first-time LVC students to this mix tomorrow. This College is a place where students mold and shape their study by working closely with faculty and administrators to create a rich blend of leadership, service, and academic excellence. It takes a dedicated group of professionals and supporters to provide that opportunity to our students. I thank you in advance for the good work you are going to do for this new class and this College. Thank you for coming today.