President speaks at convocation

By Trevor Wallace
August 30, 2010

Dr. Marie Angelella George spoke to members of the Cabrini community regarding plans for the upcoming year.

Presenting the presidential address as part of the opening convocation to the Cabrini College community, Dr. Marie Angelella George delivered the message regarding the four main themes that are focused around a new mission statement, which the college will be working towards throughout the year.

“We are about defining a contemporary Cabrini education through excellence, social justice and transformational learning. That is what has been directing our energies and allowing us to prioritize the numerous activities and project initiatives that we could do to really harness our energy towards achieving this vision,” George said regarding the plans that have been laid out for the campus community.

Three new members of George’s cabinet have joined Cabrini College, which include Dennis Kelly, vice president of enrollment management; Dr. Anne Skleder, provost and vice President for academic affairs; and Joan Neal, vice president of institutional planning and effectiveness. Together they will work towards the new mission statement that, as stated by George, was “not to be changed but to be made more concise.”

The new statement that was announced by George during her address on Wednesday, Aug. 24, recognizes Cabrini’s roots in its faith and realizes its purpose for being.

“We are a Catholic institution of higher education dedicated to academic excellence, leadership development and social justice.  As a community, we welcome learners of all faiths, cultures and backgrounds and we prepare them to become engaged citizens of the world,” George said.

With this new and improved statement, Cabrini’s identity has been given new priorities for the upcoming year.

“By the end of the year, we want the entire campus community to be engaged in some way in the initiative dealing with mission integration,” George said, adding that the new mission statement has acted as a springboard for Cabrini’s Catholic identity.

Taking a new approach to issues regarding students, George pointed out that it is in fact the faculty and staff that must first address the mission statement before turning to the undergraduate community to deepen their sense of Cabrini’s mission.

“For the first year, we (Cabrini’s faculty and staff) have to start with ourselves.  We are, so to speak, the permanent members of the campus community.  We have to be clear about what our respective roles are, so that more students will know what it means to be more committed in their journey towards matters of social justice,” George said.

Members of George’s cabinet, including Kelly, are well aware of the poor retention rates Cabrini has seen during recent years.  They have been committed to finalizing a multi-year retention plan by the end of the year, which not only understands why students are leaving but reaches the comfortable goal of 1,500 undergraduate students deemed fit for the college.

The college even had discussions about a doctorate program.  There isn’t anything on the immediate horizon for such a program. However, George said that the most natural department to receive a doctorate program would be the education department.

Graduate education over the last three years has also grown to over 1,200 students, which has largely been due to the creation of off-campus sites.

The third theme George touched on during her presidential address dealt with matters of stewardship or the supervising and managing of the campus.

In the fiscal year of ’09-’10, which runs from the beginning of July to the end of June, the office of institutional advancement exceeded its goal of $1,035 million by five percent.  These proceeds are to be distributed throughout the Cabrini Fund that was set in place in order to help with student financial aid.

A campus master plan was also discussed that will improve facilities, grounds, pedestrian walkways, the environment of the college, classrooms and multi-purpose use areas. This master plan has a window of 15-20 years for everything to be implemented.

George went on to read an email she had received from Don Francis, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, made up of 93 private colleges within the state of Pennsylvania.  It was in response to the latest issue of the Cabrini Magazine.

“I really like the way that you have developed your justice matters mission of the college.  I still vividly remember you unveiling this theme at your inauguration and it is clear that you are keeping the college focused on the social justice mission of the college.  This really does separate Cabrini from many other institutions,” Francis said.

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Trevor Wallace

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