Eyes on the Ball
Decisiveness, a strong sense of identity and a can-do attitude were key to Dickinson's success in 2010, announced President William G. Durden ’71 in his annual Town Meeting address. But while we have much to celebrate, we also have much good work ahead.
Held Jan. 21 in the Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, the Town Meeting brought together members of the administration, faculty and staff to discuss the status of current programs and initiatives across campus, reflect on recent achievements and outline institutional goals for the coming fiscal year. All campus-community members were invited to attend.
“The world is facing a multi-year economic challenge. Our future depends on how well we approach key issues and challenges brought on by external forces,” Durden said. “Coming together in this way is especially valuable ... [because] we all have played, and will continue to play, a significant role in navigating through this period.” [Article continues below.]
Durden opened the meeting by outlining Dickinson's ongoing response to the still-turbulent world economy, stating that the college continues to “react to the radical increase in national need for financial aid and the readjustment of the stock market with a very disciplined, proactive, multi-year plan.”
In 2010, the college surpassed its targeted $2 million operating-budget reduction—a reduction resulting entirely from reduced, non-wage employee expenses—and created a one-time operating surplus of $3.3 million, which was then invested in high-priority, competitive, unfunded projects. This gain allowed Dickinson to maintain financial-aid funds without resorting to employee layoffs, shifted healthcare premiums, reduced salaries, increased class sizes or similar, undesirable means.
Advancing objectives and student satisfaction
Durden stressed that the college must secure future success by advancing enrollment initiatives and fostering strong student satisfaction and lifelong alumni connections. “In order to do that, we need to offer an outstanding residential experience, which includes updating our facilities,” he explained.
To that end, the campus saw several major building renovations in the 2010 fiscal year. Last year’s crowning projects were the renovated Admissions House, which may now accommodate increased visitor volume, and the newly constructed Althouse trellis. Renovations are being considered for the campus’ athletic facilities, residence halls and social spaces, including the Quarry, Dining Hall and HUB.
Upgraded facilities are only part of the solution, however. The president reminded each member of the campus community to maintain excellent relationships with prospective students, current students and alumni and uphold the qualities and values that define the Dickinson community. “We are all admissions, alumn-relations and development officers,” he said.
Strong pool in a fierce climate
Stephanie Balmer, vice president for enrollment & communications and dean of admissions, shared that the college saw increases in both prospective and submitted applications in 2010. This marks yet another banner year for the admissions department, which ushered in the largest class in Dickinson’s history this fall.
“Demand for Dickinson is very strong, and we have a greater depth and breadth in our applicant pool this year,” said Balmer, noting that the college has a very strong academic pool for the incoming class, even in the current, fiercely competitive admissions climate.
Spirit of gratitude
Stephen Williams ’11, vice president of the student senate, was the afternoon's final speaker. A Mechanicsburg native and political-science major who transferred to Dickinson from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), Williams expressed gratitude to members of the campus community for their support during his time on campus.
“Thank you, each of you, for making my education possible,” Williams said, naming the encouragement and warm welcomes he received from faculty, administrators and service–staff members as important factors in his success as a Dickinson student. Williams, who will teach in Philadelphia inner-city schools next fall through Teach for America, added: “I will always be proud to call myself an alumnus of Dickinson.”
After Williams' address, Durden galvanized his fellow campus-community members with a parting rallying cry. “We are steeped in history and clear in purpose, and we make no excuses ... We are on a good course,” he said. “But we still have a lot left to do. We cannot take our eyes off of the ball.”
By MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Photos by Carl Socolow '77