October 19th Update

  • Sunday, Oct 19, 2014


And the winner is…

Steven Post (Professor in the Department of Mathematics).
I’m quoting here from Steven’s nomination of Work in Progress as the name for this communication: “You are using it to report on work in progress (yours, ours, the College’s) and it’s a good reminder that the College itself – and each of us here – is also a work in progress.” In the feedback I received, some of the other ideas under consideration elicited references to John McCain and medical procedures. No disrespect meant to either the Senator or surgery—but those aren’t the images I’m hoping to conjure!

With a great deal of confidence, Steven also added in his email, “Let me know when to pick up the fabulous prize.” What do you get the man who has everything? Lunch for two at a place of his choosing. I will leave to Steven to decide whether my joining him is part of the prize or not!

Speaking of Work In Progress…

As you know, the College entered into a partnership with Chartwells to provide dining services on campus. We are a few weeks into that transition and are in the process of making some changes based on early feedback. You may notice, for example, that there are daily lunch and dinner specials—ways that students can make their meal dollars go farther. (I’ve become a huge fan of the grilled sandwich, side salad, and fountain drink combo.)

Educational sessions are in process (some held on October 15, others scheduled for Monday, October 20) for students who are on meal plans to learn more about how to get the most out of their meal dollars. Please encourage students to attend one of these sessions—by doing so, they’ll both learn how to navigate the new dining services better and receive an extra $50 on their meal plans. College staff will continue to work with Chartwells and to gather student feedback around potential improvements for now and for next year—perhaps including an all-you-care-to-eat approach, an idea that has been suggested by some students.

And Speaking of Transitions…

I’ve asked the Presidential Transition Team to give me some feedback on my first 90 days (which will end November 1—time flies!). This group of faculty and staff, you may recall, worked through the summer to provide suggestions to me about how to get off to a great start as your president. I have been able to use many of their suggestions, including the tone and content of this communication, greater clarity around August Seminar, and development of a monthly communication from Human Resources listing new faculty and staff as well as those who have left the College. I look forward to another round of helpful feedback, and am grateful for the candid, thoughtful work of these colleagues.

Great news

Maggie Balistreri-Clarke recently forwarded me the final freshman retention numbers, prepared by our Office of Institutional Research and Assessment. With a full-time freshman retention rate of 81%, we for the second year in a row surpassed our 80% goal! In addition, retention rates to junior and senior years are within a percentage point of all-time highs, indicating that we are making progress toward our goals for persistence and graduation as well. It is also encouraging to note that the ALANA freshman-to-sophomore retention rate is at 80%--in effect, there is no retention gap for last year’s freshman class. Thanks to all of you who play such a critical role in delivering on the challenging, supportive educational experience all of our students expect!

Great news part II

I’m typing this after a conference call with the Predolin Foundation. As directed in their bylaws—and consistent with the wishes of Henry Predolin--the Foundation supports scholarship and capital projects in the areas of business, nursing, and science at Edgewood College (along with projects at the Mayo Clinic and the United Way of Dane County). We were thrilled to learn that this year’s distribution to the college will be $931,300! Just over one-third of that is required to go to scholarships. The balance completes the naming gift for the Henry Predolin School of Nursing renovation, and provides capital funding for various projects in each of the three disciplines. This brings the total contributions from the Predolin Foundation to nearly $5.4 million—funds that have made an Edgewood College education affordable for countless students and that have allowed us to improve the learning environment on campus tremendously.

A full week

I’m learning that every week in this role is full in a different way…but the week of October 19 promises to be particularly interesting. (Apologies in advance if you call or email can look forward to hearing from me the week of October 26!) A quick rundown of my week:

  • Monday: meeting with the Capital Times editorial board in the morning, Siena Lecture at 2:00 (Anderson Auditorium), interview with Live at Five (channel 3).
  • Tuesday: In Milwaukee all day…for a lunch meeting with a donor, followed by a meeting with former Edgewood College president Sr. Mary Ewens, an alumni reception downtown, and the men’s soccer game at MSOE that evening.
  • Wednesday: Noon speech at Downtown Rotary, remarks at Career Week networking event, and then participating (hopefully with my kids!) in the Project Linus student activity that evening.
  • Thursday: We will be hosting the presidents of Wisconsin’s independent colleges (WAICU) in Washburn in the morning; chancellors of the four-year UW schools will join us for lunch (in the Stream) and a joint meeting of WAICU presidents and UW chancellors in the afternoon.
  • Friday: Inauguration day.  I hope to see many of you during the day!

Thank you to all of you who have worked so hard to make Inauguration Week special—I won’t even attempt to list everyone, because I would inevitably forget someone...but know that I’m grateful for your efforts. I may be the center of attention, but this week is really about a rare opportunity to tell our story, to celebrate what we have achieved, and to reaffirm our commitment to an even greater future. Which will always, of course, be a work in progress…