afternoon to all of you and welcome back. Let me first congratulate Claire Klatchak,
this year’s Medallion of Merit recipient,
who is an alumna of both the Moravian undergraduate and MBA programs. We’ll hear more
impressive contributions to our college in a few minutes. Suffice it to say at this point,
however, that Claire is a remarkable lady who has been involved in virtually every alumni-associated
event during my 9 years at Moravian. I recall, for example, that Claire was an active participant
in the Student Development Committee of the 1999 Commission on the Future…among the
recommendations from her group was the expansion and strengthening of Moravian’s emerging
leaders program. It took us a half-dozen years or so to make it happen, but today’s
very successful Leadership Development Center is precisely what Claire and her colleagues
wanted. It’s but one example of how this woman has continued to have a positive difference
on our institutional quest for excellence.
In my remarks at this event, it is traditional
that I do two things: first, briefly review our current situation as we complete one academic
year and move toward another, and second, set forth the broad outlines of the major strategic
initiatives that we will work over the next several years. Needless to say, my comments
today will be tempered just a bit by the fact that this is my last such appearance before
you and our incoming president, Dr. Chris Thomforde, undoubtedly will have some ideas
of his own about future directions for your alma mater. He’s a remarkable guy, incidentally,
and I recommend that you reserve your chair soon to hear what he has to say at this gathering
Optimism for the Future
Let me preface my comments on the “state
of the college” by
cutting right to the bottom line: Pam and I have come to love this “small national
Moravian College and the prospect of leaving carries an element of sadness. Our melancholy,
however, is overwhelmed by a sense of pride about the last 9 years and optimism for the
future of this institution. As I asserted during comments at graduation exercises last
- “…the essence of this institution’s strategic plan has not changed
since 1742…it can be summarized with a very simple phrase, ‘quest for
- “…this instinct for improvement is in Moravian’s institutional DNA…as
a result, our college is good today…and it will be even better tomorrow.’”
me provide some context for this sense of optimism.
First and foremost, let me say that
Moravian has a fantastic
leadership team. It starts with the trustees…you all know my
and chairman of the board (she doesn’t like being called a chairperson), Mrs.
Priscilla Payne Hurd… She’s just fantastic…she knows what’s
going on at Moravian and keeps the pressure on us to perform…but doesn’t micromanage… She
also gives me a bottle of Jack Daniels every Christmas…What
more could I ask?
I have a senior staff “to die for” …sometimes I think
things go better when I’m away…most certainly,
they will make a seamless transition to a new president. In short, as President of
Moravian College, I have been richly
blessed…it has been a situation that only a dimwit could
have messed up.
But the real “proof,” as they say, is in the “pudding.” And
the “pudding” at
this institution is the student body. The good news here is that our student body has
been getting bigger
and better every year… The “full time equivalent” day
enrollment last fall was 1514…in 2000 it
was 1351. Average SAT’s last fall were 1150…they
were 1100 only five years ago. During the same period,
the percentage of freshmen coming from the top
10% of their high school graduating classes doubled…from 15
to 30. Needless to say, these sorts of data have moved us steadily upward in the
popular media and other evaluations such as U.S. News and World Report and The Princeton
Academic, Co-curricular Programs
To keep our bright, young students challenged, we have revitalized both academic
and co-curricular programs. Under Curt Keim’s leadership, the faculty has launched
a new so-called Learning in Common curriculum...with more interdisciplinary courses,
increased classroom emphasis on moral and ethical issues, and a very successful effective
writing program. We’ve
also placed additionalemphasis on the Sciences… With
new academic majors in biochemistry and environmental sciences and targeted recruiting,
seen enrollment of math and science majors increase from 17 to 30% of incoming freshmen in
the past two years. Mrs. Hurd’s gift last August of a $1.5 million endowment for the
support of student-faculty research also has shown remarkable results in its first year…this
summer, some 22 students will be working with faculty on a wide variety of research programs.
Speaking of academics, we also have welcomed some 44 splendid new faculty members
in the last five years. Perhaps it’s little wonder that we just received our 7 th
Fulbright scholarship in 7 years and recently have had finalists in competition for prestigious
Rhodes, Truman and Udall scholarships.
Not to be outdone, our newly renamed “ Comenius Center
for Continuing, Professional, and Graduate Studies,” is moving ahead smartly with
more autonomy and agility than its predecessor continuing and graduate studies program.
Under Dr. Florence Kimball’s aggressive leadership, the Comenius Center has redesigned
and expanded its curriculum to address more effectively the needs of adult learners and
to meet the demands of a highly competitive market.
On the co-curricular front, our new Leadership Centerhas
involved more than 600 students in its first two years. Among its successful programs have
been the participation by Moravian students in the nationally-known LeaderShape training
sessions at the University of Michigan; presentations by guest speakers such as Harvard’s
Barbara Kellerman, author of Bad Leadership; and participation with prestigious academic
institutions across the United States in a very active Council on Foreign Relations teleconference
series. Incidentally, the participation of Moravian students in community service is at an
all-time high…some 800 volunteered for the most recent “community service
day,” and our recent “Relay for Life” raised more than $10,000.00
for cancer support and research.
Our choirs continue to thrive, with Christmas
Vespers services televised throughout Pennsylvania and surrounding states and recent
successful performances at the Czech Embassy in Washington and Home Moravian Church in
Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Finally, we’ve accepted an invitation to play football in
the Centennial Conference…our competitors of old…and will
play other sports in a new league including such prestigious
institutions as Drew University, Catholic University in
Washington, Goucher University in Baltimore, and the USMM Academy,
Bricks and Mortar
I hope that you also have noticed the changed face
of our campuses…the result
of capital improvements amounting to over $40 million
during the past half dozen years. The flagship of our fleet, of course,
is the new Priscilla Payne Hurd Academic Building…but other improvements on both campuses
ranging from new student living accommodations to athletic facilities and landscape projects
have done dramatic things for our “curb appeal.” Indeed, it’s amazing
how many compliments I
receive each week from visitors who have strolled through Moravian College.
Incidentally, we paid for all
$40 million in past seven years. That’s an average of about $5.8 million a
our past performance. This year, we were up to $4 million at the half-way point.
Next Steps, Next President
In sum, when I arrived at Moravian,
it was a solid institution poised
for a “take-off” to a new level. With strong support from trustees,
alums, faculty and staff, we
took on the challenge and embraced a straight-forward, simple strategy of excellence
in everything we do. This strategy has worked. Now, once again,
Moravian College is well-positioned
for another “take-off” as
we prepare to welcome Moravian’s next president this summer.
The Board of Trustees has
done a masterful job in
selecting Chris Thomforde. He has all the tickets... experience,
intellect, talent, and energy... to lead a college of Moravian’s caliber and
promise. Chris will face several key challenges…crafting
a new set of strategic goals for next 5-year planning cycle, completing
a comprehensive self-study for accreditation purposes, and launching
a new comprehensive campaign.
These, of course, are the same basic
challenges I faced
nearly a decade
ago…and with the support provided by friends of
the college…including, most certainly, the graduates…we met those
challenges. My plea to you today is that you give the same support to Dr. Thomforde.
Thank you once again for being here and for making the last nine years such an absolute
joy for Pam and me.