A Message from President Helm - December 2009
Hi there, and greetings from campus, where the fall semester is moving into the home stretch.
Over the last several years I’ve learned that, like most of you, the President of Muhlenberg has to wear many hats. Sometimes I have to be warm and fuzzy, at other times stern and serious. Sometimes I’m formal, sometimes bold and adventurous, and sometimes – when the College is unfairly criticized - even combative.
Of course, my favorite hat is this one – the hat of a fervent, unrepentant Muhlenberg fan.
As we wrap up 2009 – a tumultuous year that brought out the best and worst in our country – and as we prepare for a new year in 2010, I hope we can all put on our Muhlenberg hats for a few minutes while I update you on what has been happening here.
By now you should have received this year’s annual report – if not, you’ll find a link to it in the e-mail that brought you this video. Titled “Riding the Storm” it chronicles a series of triumphs over serious challenges during the past year. Let me share just a few of these with you:
- We balanced the budget for the 54th year in a row; hit our enrollment targets; maintained our bond rating; avoided any staff layoffs; and provided our students with the financial aid they needed – a remarkable set of achievements that many of our peers did not manage last year.
- We finished the first five years of Muhlenberg’s strategic plan, with all of the important goals accomplished or in the final stages of completion. The comprehensive campaign called “The Talents Entrusted to Our Care” – designed to fund these strategic initiatives – is on track for a successful conclusion next June 30th. We have raised $102 million dollars toward our $105 million dollar goal– and we’ll cross the finish line in style if every one of us takes the time to make a gift during the next 7 months.
- Highlights of the plan and the campaign include:
- The new Life Sports Center
- The completion of the new science building and renovation of Shankweiler
- The construction of new residence halls
- The renovation of parents plaza
- New majors in neuroscience, film studies, and finance; new minors in public health and African-American studies; new curricula in Music, Philosophy, Religion, and other departments; and – still in the works – a complete redesign of Muhlenberg’s general education requirements, the first in 20 years.
- A dramatic expansion in internships, service learning, research, and study abroad opportunities for our students – all means of ensuring that Muhlenberg grads know how to tie classroom theory to practical applications in the real world.
- Also in the works:
- a major renovation and expansion of Seegers Union, updating a kitchen, servery, and dining hall that were designed 40 years ago for half as many students as they serve today. The new facility will open in August, 2010 – and it will be magnificent!
- The conversion of a former fraternity house into much needed rehearsal space for our growing and nationally praised programs in music and theatre.
- The construction of new academic facilities for sociology and anthropology, as well as an ambitious expansion of our campus Hillel House.
- Most important of all, Muhlenberg graduates continue to demonstrate impressive success in achieving their individual life goals, including acceptance to top medical schools, law schools, and other graduate and professional programs; landing jobs with top accounting firms and other businesses; and nailing down jobs as teachers, journalists, and many other professions. Muhlenberg’s creative fusion of liberal arts with pre-professional studies is a powerful engine for driving our graduates on to lives of much-needed leadership and service throughout our country.
So, yes, we Muhlenberg fans have a lot to be proud of, a lot to cheer about. But we cannot, we must not, be complacent. There are plenty of challenges for us to tackle together – and I will need you as a committed partner if we are to continue this distinguished record of success. Here are the most important of them:
- We’ve simply got to keep Muhlenberg accessible to the most talented and hardworking young men and women in our country. This means we have to hold down costs while improving quality and increasing financial aid. Your ideas on cost savings are welcome, as are your suggestions about ways in which we can be better. But most important of all – let me repeat, most important of all – we need you to support this College financially. Every gift matters to Muhlenberg, every dollar donated helps us provide scholarship support, provide competitive salaries for faculty and staff, maintain our beautiful campus. The very best colleges and universities got that way because their alumni and parents are consistently and absolutely committed to their success. We cannot achieve our full potential without you – and neither can the rising generation.
If you’ve already given this year, Thank You! If you gave last year – Thank You and remember to give again. If you missed last year, now is the time to get back on the team. We need everybody to give every year. It’s as simple as that. You can make a gift online by following the link provided in the e-mail that brought you this video.
Let me end with wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous holiday season and new year. On behalf of the Muhlenberg family, Pat and I – and Calypso – wish you all the best. And thanks!