Opening Breakfast Remarks by President Lewis E. Thayne,
August 24, 2012
Good morning. Thank you for coming. It’s wonderful to see so many people and to have so much positive energy in the room. For our visitors, I bid you a warm welcome to Lebanon Valley College. This breakfast has become a tradition at LVC, an opportunity for all of us to mark the beginning of a new academic year.
For those I have not met, my name is Lewis Thayne. Since August 1, I have had the privilege of serving as the 18th President of Lebanon Valley College. I note that all of the LVC traditions so far involve either food or ice cream. I knew I would like it here.
My wife, Dorry, is in the audience and I hope many of you have had an opportunity to say hello. Without Dorry, I would certainly not be at Lebanon Valley College. She has a simple system of evaluating any potential jobs I may be interested in. The top rating is, “That would be great.” The second is, “Sounds interesting.” The third is very simple: “Over my dead body.” Clearly, LVC had Dorry’s top rating.
I see Steve MacDonald and Mary Warner in the audience and I would like to acknowledge them now. Steve served for eight years as our 17th president and he and Mary could not have been more gracious in welcoming Dorry and me to LVC and to Annville. All of the accomplishments of the past year—and so many others—were achieved on his watch and under his capable leadership.
There are a number of other 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 to the end.
Representing our Board of Trustees:
Wes Dellinger, chair; Kristen Angstadt; Suzanne Arnold; Susanne Dombrowksi; Ron Drnevich; Renee Norris; Lynn Phillips; Michael Pittari; Jeff Robbins; Tito Valdes, student trustee; Tina Washington; Denny Williams
Officials of Annville Township:
Bernard Dugan, police chief; Rex Moore, commissioner; Bruce Hamer, township secretary; Carol Stewart, assistant secretary
Those who serve Annville on various boards and committees:
Joseph Connor; John Feather; Carl and Mary Jane Gacono; Ruth Krebs; Kathleen Moe
Dr. Marianne Bartley, Lebanon School District superintendent; Dr. Anthony Colistra, Milton Hershey School president; Dr. Steven Houser, Annville-Cleona School District superintendent; Dr. Kathleen Kramer, HACC Lebanon campus dean
The PA Legislature:
Senator Mike Folmer; Representative Mauree Gingrich
From the Media:
Paul Baker, Lebanon Daily News; Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News; Barbara Miller, The Patriot News; Steve Snyder, Lebanon Daily News
Other Members of the College Community of Friends, Neighbors, and Supporters:
Larry Bowman; Dr. Tom Carmany; Frank Dixon; Frank Dombrowski; Mary Ellen and Art Ford; Elaine Feather; Pamela and Patrick Kerwin; Keith Kreamer; Paul Longenecker; Helen Neidig; Robert Sanderson; Rick Scott; Doris Stanson; Earl Sudbury; Glenda Synodinos
I also want to acknowledge two people who could not be here today. Dick Charles and I met before he left for Michigan and I know of his work and his dedication to Annville. And Pat Walter made a special trip to my office to welcome me before she left for the beach. Pat is the widow of Judge John Walter, Class of 1953, and a legendary supporter of the College. Pat presented me with John’s LVC Blazer Buttons, a gift that will give me great strength every time I wear my blazer.
With the introduction of Glenda Synodinos, I am also reminded that I follow in the footsteps of John Synodinos, the 15th president of the College and a man who, like me, found his way here from Franklin & Marshall College. I heard so many fine stories about John while at F&M. It is very meaningful for me to feel his presence on campus.
In my own case, I spent the last seven years at F&M as the vice president for college advancement. When I was hired in 2005, I was asked to transform the advancement program at the college, and to create a program of sustainable excellence that would benefit generations of alumni into the future. At the same time, there was the matter of raising money for the aggressive building campaign at F&M. We had seven years of record-breaking fundraising results during a global financial crisis and without the assistance of a comprehensive campaign.
When asked what I am most proud of about my time at Franklin & Marshall, I always say it is the advancement infrastructure I built during my tenure. A superb database, a global alumni network, leadership groups who are multifaceted resources to the college, memorable campus events that built a stronger community, and programs that attract thousands of alumni back to campus each year. During my presidency, I would also like to engage our alumni more fully in the life of the College and as a resource for our students.
Some brief biographical remarks. My wife, Dorry, is an artist. You will, no doubt, have an opportunity to see her work at some point. We have three children. Anne, our oldest, graduated from Bucknell University and, until recently, worked in public affairs for a company in Washington, D.C. Her husband, Tomek, is a graduate student in physics at the University of Maryland who finishes his doctorate this fall. Our middle child, Julia, is an Emory University graduate who will begin a master's program in urban economics at the London School of Economics in September. Anthony, our youngest, begins his sophomore year at Dickinson in a few days. He spent this summer as a marketing intern for the Lancaster Barnstormers, our local baseball team. Dorry and I are commuters. We live in Lancaster, although we look forward to staying overnight regularly in Kreiderheim so that we can participate in campus life more fully. We also look forward to entertaining at Kreiderheim. I hope we will see many of you when we do.
Three days into my tenure I stopped into the Bishop Library to borrow a book on the history of the College. As I spoke with the students staffing the front desk, a reference librarian stepped forward and said “You know, there might be a copy of the Centennial History downstairs, if you think that might be of interest.” I looked around in the stacks for a few minutes and when I returned, sure enough, there was a copy of the Centennial History waiting for me. I asked the students on duty if they thought I should bring this book back or if they thought it was intended as mine to keep in the President’s Office. “I wouldn’t worry about it, President Thayne, we have millions of them downstairs.” I will just say that apart from learning that this College is very tough on presidents, I also gathered some wisdom from President Edmund Lorenz whose motto became “poco a poco,” little by little.
Shortly after I was asked to enter the search for the new president here, Dorry and I drove to campus and wandered through buildings, observed students, and just generally got a sense of the place. We both felt the same thing…I like it here. You have to connect with a place on a visceral, emotional level if you are going to work as hard as it is necessary to work and be as passionate about the mission as it is important to be. We had that connection at Lebanon Valley College from the beginning.
I am here also because I believe firmly that Lebanon Valley College is a special place—that we are doing more than educating students, we are changing lives. At our best, we take students who have a base of experience and to that base we add a great educational experience, one that will last them a lifetime. Our graduates take that 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 be renewed each year. It is work in which we—all of us—also find renewal.
I would like to highlight some of the accomplishments of the past year, all of which relate to the quality of the academic enterprise at LVC.
Highlights and Accomplishments of the Past Academic Year
This campus looked like a construction site this summer and there is nothing a college president likes to hear more than the sound of construction, renovation, refurbishment, and renewal. Allow me to share a number of examples.
The building in which we sit, The Allan W. Mund College Center, was completed during the summer with the exterior terraces and the landscaping work being done. The creation of the Center for Student Engagement is also complete, a one-stop center for student activities, multicultural affairs, career services, study abroad, and student government. Last week, I had the thrill of standing on the new turf under the new lights on Arnold Field. I toured Hammond Hall, a residence hall that received a makeover this summer and I can assure you our residence halls compare very favorably with those of other colleges. Finally, I am very pleased to see the installation in several classrooms of new technology that will enable LVC faculty and students to incorporate the newest innovations in pedagogy into their classroom experience. LVC has always stood for excellence in teaching. I want to thank Bob Riley and all of those members of the housekeeping staff, facilities, grounds, and media services who worked through the summer to get this all 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.
I have met a number of faculty members who spent the summer working with small groups of students on research projects in biology, math, anthropology, art, and accounting. This is LVC at our best—when individual students can collaborate with faculty members in hands-on research and learning. Many of these high-impact experiences were made possible by grants from the Edward H. Arnold and Jeanne Donlevy Arnold Program for Experiential Education in 2011. Earlier in the year, we had Inquiry 2012: A Symposium of Student Research and Original Work, where we highlighted the academic achievement of 105 students representing every academic department on campus.
In November, LVC’s physical therapy program received affirmation of full accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. The accreditation came along with some well-deserved commendations.
LVC students completed study abroad programs in 13 destinations in Europe, South America, and Australia.
Outcomes from the Class of 2012
This year’s 2012 graduating class included 426 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students representing 37 academic disciplines. Many of our 2012 graduates have enrolled in graduate programs at some of the finest universities and professional schools in the country. Others found jobs—I am told that 79 percent of our graduates find jobs within 12 months of graduation—with Simon-Lever, The Hartford, ACE Group, Fresh Creative, HERCO, ParenteBeard, Nestle Purina, Nissin Foods, Towers Watson, Maryland Park Service, Lebanon School District, Flicker Filmworks, Hershey Medical Center, Philhaven, City Year Philadelphia, and a host of others. Our career services and student life staff do a wonderful job of preparing our students for getting launched on a career.
Lebanon Valley College students completed 20,039 hours of service during the 2011–2012 academic year, equivalent to more than $400,000 in service, mostly for the greater Lebanon community. The service included clean up after the devastating flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee; C.U.R.E.—The Physical Therapy Free Clinic run by students in their final three years of LVC’s doctoral program in physical therapy; service by the football team, business and economics department students; Alpha Phi Omega, our service fraternity; and many other campus groups.
The community service program is a model for other institutions to follow. In fact, LVC was recognized in a June Huffington Post article titled “Eight Great Schools for Community Service,” which detailed the ongoing commitment to service displayed by Lebanon Valley students and the College’s innovative use of Blackboard to track volunteer hours. Chaplain Paul Fullmer is quoted in the article as connecting service with work and in seeing the benefit to society as well as the building of applicable skills and competencies in students. Eighty percent of our students performed community service work during the year, a truly impressive record.
Our women’s basketball, volleyball, and indoor track and field teams won their conference championships. LVC student-athletes won 21 individual conference titles in track, swimming, and tennis. Thirteen teams qualified for their respective conference post-seasons. LVC had six all-Americans. This is an outstanding record at a school with such rigorous academics and it is a tribute to the coaches and the athletes. I know Rick Beard does an outstanding job with this program.
The football players are here. Field hockey is here. The marching band is here. Soccer is here. Our new FieldTurf Revolution artificial turf field, resurfaced track, competition-quality lighting, and new bleachers on the visitor’s side of Arnold Field will see a lot of use this fall. Next Saturday, September 1, we will host the first home field hockey game on the new playing surface, where we expect the Dutchmen to defeat Mary Washington. The football team will play its first home game on the field when they host Misericordia on September 8. That evening, field hockey will face off against Eastern in the first night athletic contest on campus in LVC history.
The Sesquicentennial Class
Some 466 (56 transfers and 410 freshmen) new students and our returning students are making their way to campus. The new class is impressive in so many ways. They already have the distinction of being the Sesquicentennial Class who will graduate as we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the College. I congratulate Bill Brown and his staff on bringing in such a talented and diverse group of students.
Work To Do
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 on working with the leadership of the institution to put in place a stronger and more visible foundation of assessment and data-driven decision-making at the College. This is a compliance issue related to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It is also a strategic issue for the College. Assessment will be a priority as faculty members look at the curriculum as well as a priority of administrators as we assess continuously the effectiveness of the institution. Without question, Lebanon Valley College is poised to enter a very promising future. The decisions we make about the direction of that future are absolutely critical. We need a stronger culture of assessment and broad participation in those strategic decisions as we move ahead. The process we go through to meet compliance standards will make us an even better institution. I will be working closely with Mike Green, Greg Krikorian, and Deb Fullam, and a team of people to move us forward at an accelerated pace.
The trustees have charged me with developing strategies to expand the enrollment of the College to 1,700 through more aggressive marketing of the College and by developing a marketing and media plan to make the College better known within the region, as well as beyond it. This will be a priority for our work through January. Marty Parkes and Bill Brown will be focusing on this work.
At each table there is a Community Impact flier that lists a few of the many ways LVC and its faculty, staff, and students are involved in the community. Please look it over at your leisure. It is a nice selection of community involvement.
The College is one of the largest employers in Lebanon County (#17). Its total payroll for all employees in 2011 was $19.6 million. Of the total number of LVC employees, 419 full and part-time faculty, administrators, and staff resided in Lebanon County in 2011 and earned $12.1 million. Of that $12.1 million, $3.9 million was earned by employees residing in North Annville, South Annville, and Annville Township.
More than 2,000 LVC alumni live in Lebanon County and 255 LVC alumni live in greater Annville. Their economic impact is immeasurable, but substantial. I am pleased that they enjoyed their time in Annville so much so that they made a home and based their careers within the county.
As a newcomer to Annville and Lebanon Valley College, I have already been impressed by the special relationship LVC has with the Annville-Cleona School District. During the past 10 years, the College has donated approximately $149,000 to the school district for use in ways the district deems best. We will make another donation this morning, and I ask Steven Houser, superintendent of the Annville-Cleona School District, to join me. Steve, on behalf of the College, please allow me to present you with this check for $17,300 to be used for purposes you judge best for the education of the children in the district.
Mr. Bruce Hamer, Annville Township secretary. Bruce, this is a check for $11,100. It represents half of the $22,200 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 $11,100 will be delivered to the township in the spring. During the past 10 years, the College has contributed approximately $222,000 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 included new curbs and sidewalks, landscaping, street lighting, utilities, and traffic flow. Many of you traveled here today passing by the corner of Routes 422 and 934, just south of the Neidig-Garber Science Center. A lot that once housed a mothballed post office and pizza parlor now boasts the focal point of the center of town—a beautiful fountain, attractive landscaping, and ample parking for the visitors of Annville. During the past decade, the College has given one-half million dollars to Annville in support of its improvement projects. At this time, I will invite Annville Township Commissioner Rex Moore to join me at the podium. This check for $50,000 represents the fifth installment of our latest $250,000 pledge to match monies Annville has received from the Commonwealth. We 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.
LVC & Annville Growing Together
Lebanon County is one of the fastest growing counties in Pennsylvania. We want to participate and further contribute to that growth. You have heard earlier that more than 2,000 LVC alumni reside within the county’s borders. As we work toward our enrollment goal of 1,700 undergraduate students, we know that more of those eventual alumni will stay in the county and contribute to its economic success.
The recent Lebanon County comprehensive plan has targeted a number of industries that will add to the area’s economic development efforts, and those industries pair nicely with some of LVC’s top academic programs. The plan identifies the biomedical and health care industries as a target growth area. Our biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, pre-med, and physical therapy students are ready to help meet that demand. The plan also identifies business, financial services, and education as its top target growth areas. Our business, accounting, economics, actuarial science, and education majors will be delighted to learn that the knowledge they attain at Lebanon Valley College has a place in Lebanon County’s plan for growth.
The demographic makeup of Lebanon County has changed in the past 10 years. The Hispanic population doubled within the county borders from 2000 to 2010, and the College is poised to assist that population in attaining its educational goals. We have translated sections of our admission website into Spanish to assist non-English speaking parents in helping their son or daughter make an informed enrollment decision. Within our Department of Languages, the Spanish instructors have emphasized community-engaged learning, sending their students to the Migrant Education Program in Lebanon to tutor elementary school students. A new course within the Spanish program for Heritage Spanish Speakers—those students who spoke Spanish at home when growing up, but have had little, if any, formal Spanish schooling—was created in response to our current student’s needs.
Lebanon Valley College is an exciting place. 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 466 new LVC students to this mix tomorrow, and I know that we will encourage those students to also take a firm hold on the reins of their experience. 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 to provide that freedom to our students. I thank you in advance for the good work you are going to do for this new class, our Sesquicentennial Class of 2016. Today, I am asking all of us to deliver this powerful message to each student: “We believe in you. We know you can do it. And we will help you in every way we can.” Thank you.