Opening Breakfast Remarks by President Lewis E. Thayne, August 20, 2014
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. 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. Each year, we break bread and recognize special friends, introduce new members of the College community, and highlight accomplishments of the previous year and preview goals for this year.
I wish to thank Karen Feather, Wendy Carfagno, and the Metz Staff for planning and preparing our breakfast today, and all the other staff members who made it possible.
My wife, Dorry, is in the audience and I hope many of you have had an opportunity to say hello. This breakfast gives me an opportunity to say how grateful I am for the many visible and less visible contributions she makes to the College, and to my work and life.
Some of you may have noticed the crutches and the boot I am wearing, a consequence of having broken my leg in two places while hiking in Acadia National Park on vacation. Some of you may even be asking the question my 104-year-old father asked when I told him. After a short pause, he said: “Who goes hiking on vacation? You are supposed to rest.”
When I first dressed for the office with this boot, Dorry said I looked like Iron Man. Then she added, “Except without the super powers….” My staff, apparently, has been comparing me to Captain Ahab.
Near the end of my vacation and halfway through a five-mile hike, actually a climb, my foot slipped down a boulder, caught near the bottom, and my momentum caused the foot to turn under the leg and break two bones in my right leg. Yes, it hurt.
My son, Anthony, and daughter, Anne, who were with me, called 911, which connected us with the ranger station, and an hour later a Search and Rescue group arrived. I expected two or three rangers with some kind of contraption with a wheel on it. Instead, 20 people arrived with a litter. Eighteen people took turns, seven on a shift, carrying me a mile and a half down a mountain to a carriage road where I could be taken out. More than half of the “carry out group” were volunteers. As much as I felt the pain of the broken bones, I also felt the embarrassment that all these people had to come to my rescue. When I expressed this to the national park ranger in charge, he knelt down next to me and said: “Mr. Thayne, you have been paying taxes for a long time. You are about to get some of your money back.” An hour later, I was out of the park, in an ambulance, and on my way to recovery. So here I am.
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 Trustees:
Wes Dellinger, chair
Kathy Bishop, vice chair
Bill Lehr, emeritus and former chair
Denny Williams, emeritus
Congressman Charlie Dent
Senator Mike Folmer
Representative Mauree Gingrich
Representative Rosemarie Swanger
Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development
Lebanon County Commissioners:
Officials of Annville Township:
Rex Moore, commissioner, president
Jim Scott, commissioner
Nick Yingst, administrator
Carol Stewart, township assistant secretary
Union Hose Fire Company
Ron Dowey, president
Those who serve Annville on various boards and committees:
Laurie Bowersox, representing HACC
Andrea Flocken, Annville-Cleona Schools
Other Members of the College Community of Friends, Neighbors, Emeriti, and Supporters
Frank Dixon and Rick Scott, Dixon Foundation Gregory Buckler, Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce
Larry Bowman, recently retired president and CEO
Douglas Etter, representing Lebanon VA Medical Center
Susan Eberly, Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation
Becky Witherite, Fulton Bank
Andrea Caladie, Parente Beard
Beth Ann Reeser, Conrad Siegel
Steve Hassinger, President of Cornwall Manor
David Dowling, Ft. Indiantown Gap
There are also new members of our community who I would like to introduce this morning. Shawn Curtin is our new vice president of finance and administration. Shawn comes to us from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. A reintroduction, Steve O’Day, is now our interim vice president of advancement. Jill Russell is taking on a new role as director of our Center for Global Education. She has been joined by Caitlin Murphy ’12, who will help us in the start-up, or re-start phase, of our Global Education Program. I am pleased to welcome Dawn Showers, new director of our Center for Disability Resources, and Amy Sokaitis, our new head coach of women’s basketball, who comes to us via Southern Connecticut University and Yale.
This spring, we offered a voluntary early retirement program to all full-time faculty members over the age of 62. Of the 21 eligible members of the faculty, eight decided to take advantage of this benefit. I would like to recognize them now:
Jean-Marc Braem, Elizabeth French, Mark Meacham, Owen Moe, Victoria Rose, David Rudd, Gail Sanderson, and Tom Strohman.
The best news is that all will be with us full-time until December, and several will continue teaching on a part-time basis.
We recently reaffirmed the special relationship between Lebanon Valley College and the Annville-Cleona School District. As part of our relationship, the College allows up to 12 students to take classes on a tuition-free basis. During the past 10 years, we have donated more than $180,000 to the school district for use in ways the district deems best. We will make another donation this morning, and I ask Dr. Andrea Flocken, who is representing the Annville-Cleona School District, to join me.
Andrea, 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.
For Annville itself, we have a town-gown relationship that most communities and all colleges would envy. I now ask Mr. Rex Moore, president of the Annville Township Commissioners, to come forward. Rex, this is a check for $21,450. It represents one-half of the $22,900 that the College will voluntarily contribute to the township this academic year and the second half of a special contribution in support of the budget for calendar year 2014. 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 $265,000 to the township in the form of these donations.
The College was the largest private donor to the Annville Streetscape Project that revitalized the historic downtown area and we are now working with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to make White Oak Street a pedestrian-friendly Annville neighborhood.
Today, we are also making the second payment on our $50,000 pledge to Annville’s Union Hose Fire Company. We are very pleased to support the ongoing work of the Union Hose Company and to invest in insuring the future of your diligent work on behalf of the safety of the whole community. At this time, I ask Ron Dowey, president of the Union Hose Fire Company, to join me at the podium. Ron, this check for $2,600 represents our annual contribution to the Union Hose Company. The second check of $17,000 represents the second installment of our $50,000 pledge.
Strong communities support education. This we all believe. But the present, and our Annville history, push us further to say: we are a strong community because we support the education of those who will be our leaders in the future.
Our graduates take their education and build careers, they build lives, and they contribute to their communities. This is the public role of a private college and it is important to remind ourselves how significant and how extensive this work truly is. This is work that must begin anew each year. It is work in which we all find renewal and meaning. And, it is work in which we must continually think anew for we are in a new era.
In August 2013, I announced that Lebanon Valley College was named the recipient of the estate of Dr. John Allwein, Class of 1956. At $5 million, the Allwein estate gift is the largest in the 148-year history of the College. Tomorrow, I will greet the first class of Allwein Scholars at Lebanon Valley College.
The Allwein Scholars Program consists of approximately five to 10 students in each undergraduate class. Each receives a full-tuition scholarship for four years. In addition, Allwein Scholars will receive a grant of $2,500 in each of their four years for study abroad, research projects, travel to scholarly or professional conferences, or to subsidize internships.
The Allwein Scholars work with a faculty advisor and I am pleased to announce that Jeff Robbins, professor of religion, has agreed to serve as the advisor for the group. He will organize special opportunities for the Allwein Scholars and advise them on matters related to their undergraduate academic careers or post-graduate fellowships and study.
We designed the Allwein Scholars program to incorporate those attributes of Colonel Allwein that also represent Lebanon Valley College at its best—an unwavering commitment to academic excellence; a belief in the relevance of education in the world; the pursuit of new knowledge through collaborative research and investigation; a sense of obligation to and respect for those in need; and a frank enjoyment of the social dimension of life and of learning. Taken together, it is a theory of excellence and collaborative leadership. And, it is an unmistakable opportunity for the Allwein Scholars. Thank you, Jack Allwein, and congratulations to the first class of Allwein Scholars!
In the third week of September, Chaplain Fullmer and I have been invited once again to the White House to represent Lebanon Valley College and in recognition of being named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Lebanon Valley students completed 23,800 hours last year. I do not need to remind anyone here that service is in our DNA and one of the reasons students choose LVC.
We have two new majors beginning this fall—an entry-level master’s degree program in athletic training and an undergraduate program in exercise science. The new programs give us the affiliate majors we need to create synergies with our outstanding doctoral program in physical therapy.
We launched our new Physical Therapy Clinic on West Main Street in Annville. Under our director, Brian Peers, this clinic will serve the student and college community. It will even turn a small profit from operations. This is another example of how innovation and the entrepreneurial energies of faculty and students have come together with educational excellence.
We have new national honor societies in chemistry, international studies, politics, mathematics, and for students with disabilities.
Faculty-led study abroad and service trips went to London, Peru, and The Netherlands. Our orchestra completed a concert tour of Ireland. We hosted a Symposium on Creative Thinking in Music. Tim Peelen will coordinate a new NSF grant to develop a regional college undergraduate summer research program in Budapest, Hungary.
After this breakfast, the faculty will meet to restart discussion of the proposed new General Education Program, the first significant revision of general education in more than 20 years. Mike Green and I are very encouraged by the proposed direction of the faculty and know that the final proposal will be intellectually rigorous and dynamic.
Lebanon Valley College will be back in the Dixon Center in Harrisburg in December. Through our Office of Graduate & Professional Studies, we will offer two post-graduate certificate programs in business administration and health care management.
In athletics, we won MAC Championships and competed in NCAA tournaments in football, cross-country, track, women’s indoor track & field, and softball. Athletes in 23 of our 24 teams earned post-season play. We had 10 All-Americans and four Academic All-Americans. An outstanding record.
The trustees have charged the administration with making tangible improvements in our efforts relating to diversity and civility on campus. To that end, we have instituted a program of Inclusive Excellence with a variety of recommendations on diversity, inclusion, and educational excellence. Our goal is for every student to be able to achieve his or her highest potential. Our belief is that every student must prepare for a workforce, community, and society that is diverse, multi-talented, and in need of adaptive, collaborative leaders. At Lebanon Valley College, we intend to educate the collaborative leaders of the future and Inclusive Excellence is essential to that goal.
In advancement, gifts to the College from all sources exceeded $7 million, up 134% from the previous year’s $3.1 million. We are building an Alumni Global Network by introducing a new online directory. Next, we will align that alumni and parent network to assist enrollment and career development. Engaged alumni and parents are critical to our future as a college.
We are calling on the talents and professional networks of our most accomplished alumni and parents through a Leadership Council that will form a complement to the Board of Trustees, and a reservoir of experience and commitment from which new trustees may be drawn. We are now in five cities with plans to go to eight this year.
In technology, the Report of the Technology Task Force has been completed and recommendations have been made in four areas: Infrastructure, Policy, Administration, and Support.
In response to the recommendations, we are hiring an educational technologist to work with faculty and with Megan Potteiger in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. We adopted our first Intellectual Property Rights Policy.
We purchased ‘lecture-capture’ software so that faculty members may video their lectures, thus being able to engage students more intensively in interaction in the classroom. And, we have purchased a software application to strengthen efforts to promote student success and completion.
There is much more, but I would like to ask Dave Shapiro, Jeff Ritchie, and Mike Lehr to stand along with members of the Technology Task Force.
This fall, we will complete an intensive and highly collaborative process for developing an Envisioned Future for Lebanon Valley College and a Strategic Blueprint to go along with it. The Envisioned Future will incorporate a strategic plan to insure that graduates have the knowledge and skills that will be needed in a 21st century education based in the liberal arts. Here is a short list of what will be needed:
• Superb communications skills; critical and creative thinking; immersive learning experiences; global experience; portfolio of competencies, including high-level research skills and social competencies; proven success in a collaborative learning environment; ethical development; and a defined path to a first meaningful job.
As I said, this is only part of what we will need to measure ourselves against and what we must aspire to. The expectations of colleges in the early part of the century will be higher than ever, and so will the challenges. The responses of the 20th century will not solve 21st century problems. Our strategic plan, I assure you, will be a practical, exciting, and distinctly 21st century solution to the issues of our times.
I would like to ask the members of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee to please stand and for all of us to thank them for their dedicated efforts.
Some 448 new students are making their way to campus. Many of our student-athletes and members of The Pride of The Valley Marching Band in the class are already here. This is a talented and diverse class, one that will thrive here at LVC. To give you some idea of the new students: 30% will major in the sciences, 20% represent the first-generation of their family to go to college, and 150 were recruited athletes. In addition, 251 high schools in 13 states are represented, two students are from Saudi Arabia, 18% are ALANA students, and almost two-thirds ranked in the top 30% of their class. I want to thank the offices of admissions and financial aid for bringing these wonderful students to Lebanon Valley College. I would also like to thank the student affairs staff who have already begun working with them.
In enrollment, we are focused on winning the intense competition for highly qualified students and on the need to be more strategic in the alignment between our enrollment efforts and our $25 million annual investment in financial aid. We expect our vice presidential search, led by Ann Damiano, to conclude in less than one month.
Facilities has the campus looking great and many new projects are ready for the start of classes. My hats off to facilities and housekeeping for their work.
Finally, our highest priority facilities project for the past six months has been the Lebegern Learning Commons in the Mund College Center. I would like to thank Don Santostefano and Steve O’Day for co-chairing the management of this project. Just below us, there is an amazing space where students will find academic services that deepen their classroom engagement, strengthen their learning skills, and help shape their undergraduate and post-graduate success. Here, students will benefit from academic services at the Center for Writing and Tutoring Resources, and the Center for Career Development and Center for Global Education. We wanted an accessible space where students with learning or other disabilities can go for testing and other accommodations, so we established the Center for Disability Resources. Commuting students needed better spaces on campus so we established the Commuter Center. There is even a green screen for digital media, rehearsal space for Wig & Buckle, and a barre for ballet.
Funds for this space were made possible through the gift of Howard and Margaret Lebegern ’49 whose estate came to the College last year. Representatives of the Lebegern Family are here: Jack and Sandy Neal would you please stand and accept our gratitude on behalf of Howard and Peg? Please, please take a few moments and tour the new space. I promise you, you will be very glad you did.
Lebanon Valley College is an exciting place and we live in challenging times for higher education. Our faculty, staff, and student leaders are prepared with innovative coursework, high-impact service and research opportunities, and the foundations for an exceptional college experience. It takes a dedicated group of professionals and supporters to provide that opportunity to our students. I thank all of you in advance for the good work you are going to do for this new class and this college.
Our students also participate actively in this work and I would like to single out a special group, our Valley Ambassadors. Would the Valley Ambassadors please come forward? This group of students—40 strong, based in our Office of Admission—greets and conducts tours for all of our campus visitors. They provide cheerful, informed, confident, engaged, direct, personal, relevant, and tireless advocacy on behalf of the College. Today, I am asking each of you—all of us—to be Valley Ambassadors for Lebanon Valley College. We need your courage, your confidence, your engagement, your support, and your tireless advocacy. I can promise you it will make a difference.
Now the Valley Ambassadors will lead us to the three entrances to the Lebegern Learning Commons—Sheridan Avenue, past Leedy Theater, or down the elevator just past the Student Engagement Suite.
Thank you for coming today. And…Go Valley!