of the College Speech by President Rokke
Alumni Reunion Luncheon,
Thanks Jan. Good afternoon to all of you and welcome
me first congratulate Bill Bauman, this year’s
Medallion of Merit recipient. We’ll hear more
about Bill’s considerable contributions to our
college in a few minutes. Suffice it to say at this
point that Bill has played a central role in promoting
theater, music and art at Moravian College for some
a more somber note, I should also like to pay respects
to Captain Chris Seifert, Class of 1997. Chris truly
was one of our own – the husband of Terri Flowers,
Class of l997, the son of Thomas and Helen Seifert
(Helen was a graduate of the Class of l969), and the
father of four-month old Benjamin Seifert.
told by his Army colleagues that Captain Seifert
was a role model for the profession of arms.
He died while serving his country in Iraq on March
my remarks today, I would like to do two things:
first, briefly review our current situation as we
one academic year and move toward another; and second,
set forth the broad outlines of our strategic plan
for the next several years. Together, they might be
called a “state of the college” presentation.
those of you who prefer simply to get the bottom
line, I’m delighted to assert that the “state
of Moravian College” is very good indeed. Let
me give you some rationale for my optimistic assessment.
Once again during this academic year, we have had
a full house. Indeed, with 1,436 traditional undergraduate
students living and studying with us, we enjoyed our
largest enrollment in history. Similarly, our 500 non-traditional
and post-graduate students kept the continuing studies
should also say that those 373 freshmen students
comprising our “bumper class” of 2006 – whom
I described to you last year – turned out to
be every bit as good as their high entry qualifications
Vice President for Enrollment, Bernie Story, tells
me that next year’s freshmen also walk on water.
We reached our enrollment target on May 5th, the earliest
ever, and we expect at least 375 to enroll this fall.
You’ll be pleased to hear that something like
86% of them ranked in the top 2/5 of their high school
classes; 35% were in the top 10%; and their average
SAT score was on the order of 1125.
qualifications like this, it’s little wonder
that Moravian graduates continue to excel. This year,
for example, Miss Kiley Guyton, a daughter of Moravian
alums Karen and Odell Guyton, will pursue a Ph.D. Degree
via a full scholarship at the University of New Mexico
or study in Latin America as an alternate Fulbright
Scholar. This, incidentally, would be Moravian College’s
fifth Fulbright in as many years.
the same time, Bill Trub, also in the Class of 2003,
will journey to Great Britain, where he’ll
join a handful of American students selected for graduate
study at the University of Cardiff in Wales. On the
Science side of the academic house, we have at least
four physics majors accepted into Ph.D. programs at
prestigious institutions – three of them with
full scholarships. Four Chemistry majors have been
accepted into Ph.D. or medical school programs – three
of them with full scholarships.
so the story goes with Moravian College graduates – continuing
your legacy of excellence.
Moravian’s athletic programs are prospering
in a similar fashion. This year, our men’s and
women’s basketball teams, as well as our football,
baseball and women’s softball teams were invited
to post-season games. For the third straight year,
our women’s softball team won the conference
championship and, along with our women’s cross
country team, was nationally ranked. Just two days
ago, we learned that our softball team was ranked ninth
in the nation in the final NCAA Division III poll.
This truly is impressive – Moravian athletics
is on a roll.
like to think of Moravian as a “mind, body,
and spirit experience.” If our graduates are
to make a real difference in this world, they must
be individuals of high character. With three active
chaplains – one Moravian, one Catholic and one
Jewish – the spiritual dimension of student life
is sound. In a similar vein, our Student Affairs folks
have been crafting leadership development programs
that are capturing the fancy of large numbers of students.
Over the past year, for example, the Al Williams Leadership
program has attracted some 11 speakers and involved
more than 200 students.
I need to brag just a little about Moravian’s
faculty. You alums know better than I that our professors
do splendid jobs as teachers. The magic that takes
place in the classroom is key to the Moravian experience
for our students. You may not be aware of the research
and publication accomplishments by these professors.
the past few years, for example, we have had books
written or edited by Professors Dunn in Psychology,
Dutlinger in Music, Jung in Political Science, Keim
in History, Smolansky in Sociology, and von Allmen
in Economics. Other books have been written by Emeritus
Professor Larson in Music and by Dean Skalnik of the
Academic Affairs Office. Professor von Allmen’s
textbook, incidentally – on the economics of
athletics – is selling very well and now has
been published in Chinese.
Let me now shift my focus to the future.
this event last year, I described an ongoing planning
effort headed by Dr. John Reynolds of our Political
Science Department. John’s committee crafted
a Moravian College Strategic Plan for 2003-2008 which
set forth our vision, shared values, goals and strategies.
This plan was submitted to trustees last October; they
were pleased with the scope and direction of the plan
and asked the senior staff to prepare implementation
proposals. These proposals, in turn, were the basis
for discussion at a special trustee offsite meeting
held just two months ago.
Obviously, we hoped that the trustees would formally
adopt the strategic plan and our implementation proposals.
From a broader perspective, however, our objective
was to ensure that the trustees were on the same track
as us with regard to the future course of Moravian
We also asked for help from the trustees on priorities.
Included in our proposals were a large number of separate
programs. And while we had done our best to keep these
proposals within a reasonable cost curve, we simply
could not know with precision what resources would
be available over the next several years. Accordingly,
we set out to leave the offsite with a spectrum of
programs, in priority order, from which we could draw
as resources become more determinate.
Finally, we asked the trustees for money. More specifically,
I pointed out that the net cost over the next three
years for the proposals we offered, excluding infrastructure,
would be about $800 thousand. As I reminded the trustees,
there are no free lunches.
this background, then, please allow me to highlight,
in the form of three “baskets,” the
major features of our specific proposals to the trustees.
one was entitled “Prestige”; it
emerged quite naturally from the vision put forward
by the Strategic Planning Committee, and I quote:
“Moravian College aspires to be recognized among
the nation’s top 100 liberal arts baccalaureate
institutions, known for effectively engaging students
in their intellectual, personal, and physical development. “With
this in mind, we envision a College of enhanced prestige… that
thrives on collaborative effort and shared responsibility… that
pursues excellence in its academic programs… that
anticipates growing enrollments while attracting a
diverse and talented student body…and that embraces
a campus culture to nurture the transformation of students
in their college years, in a manner consistent with
our shared values.”
short, our vision set forth two major questions relevant
for the offsite: “What does it mean
to be a college of increased prestige?” and “How
do we get there from here?”
trustees spent lots of time discussing the notion
of “increased prestige” during their two-day
offsite session. They related it to the importance
of upholding traditional core values as well as to
how we are regarded by the higher education establishment
and other constituencies such as potential students
and their parents. Needless to say, we all agreed that
our commitment to core values comes first – it’s
the challenge that never stops.
values, as articulated most recently by the Strategic
Planning Committee, are scholarship, engagement
of students and faculty, global perspective, personal
accountability, citizenship, diversity, character,
personal well-being, and continuous learning. They
are touchstones that have been mined and polished at
Moravian College for more than 250 years. In essence,
they celebrate the thinking of Comenius. For him and
for us, Moravian College is first and foremost about
mind, body and spirit. Maintaining a proper balance
among these three factors produces what our Chairman
likes to call “a small national treasure.”
its meeting in October, however, the Board of Trustees
had authorized – indeed challenged – us
to go beyond this balancing task. They told us to look
at how we might improve the way we are perceived by
external constituencies, including prospective students
so it was that we offered proposals for how Moravian
might improve its prestige by putting more emphasis
on the perceptive dimension of how we are viewed relative
to other private liberal arts and sciences institutions.
Not only did we acknowledge that there are payoffs
in being recognized by publications such as the Princeton
Review or more recently, in being invited to join the
prestigious Annapolis Group. We went a step further
by explicitly setting forth a series of goals that
focused on expanding the opportunities for this institution’s
favorable recognition by external constituencies.
goals included measures to move from Tier III to
Tier II in the annual ranking of national liberal
arts colleges, using relevant criteria set forth by
U.S. News and World Report. Our Vice President for
Planning and Research, Dr. Ann Stehney, explained to
the trustees, incidentally, that of the 217 colleges
in our category, we rank number 127…only 14 below
the cutoff for tier two – and within range of
the top 100. She also laid out our relative positions
within each of the seven criteria used by U.S. News
and World Report for evaluation purposes.
the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Curt
Keim – with help from Bev Kochard, our
Vice President for Student Affairs, and Paul Moyer,
our Director of Athletics – set forth specific
recommendations for improving the quality of our natural
science, music, leadership development and athletics
In short, our proposals associated with increased
prestige reflected a balance between form and substance.
Continuing and Graduate Studies
The second basket of proposals that we offered focused
on our Continuing Studies Program.
Trustees had prodded us to make this program more
effective at virtually every trustees meeting for many
years. In the last analysis, however, our efforts had
failed to produce substantial improvements in either
flexibility or profit. We had, in short, been unable
to offer the kinds of programs that meet adult needs
in a timely manner.
Ann Stehney led the discussion on the continuing
studies “basket.” The proposals that
she advanced reflected a thrust for excellence complementary
to the prestige orientation of our traditional undergraduate
program efforts. Citing some very real differences
between typical continuing studies and traditional
students, Ann called for greater autonomy in the governance
of our continuing studies programs. In a nutshell,
this would involve creation of an institute to replace
the current CSG governing structure, thereby separating
its curricular and pedagogical decisions from the properly
conservative bias of our traditional undergraduate
this is most certainly not an effort to create what
I would call a “Moravian light” academic
experience. The proposals put forward by Ann are intended
to provide even higher levels of educational excellence
for a constituency quite different from our traditional
students. They also are designed to improve our agility
and ability to compete in a marketplace where some
17 different educational institutions are offering
continuing studies programs.
Student Body Size and Quality
Our third and final basket of proposals, presented
by our Vice President for Administration, Dennis Domchek,
concerned the question of student body size and quality.
Following its deliberations last year, the strategic
planning committee recommended that we plan for an
increased student body size of some 1600 traditional
students. Given trends over the past few years, this
was certainly not unrealistic. The real challenge,
however, emerged when we put the quest for prestige
into our equation.
Needless to say, the rapidity with which we could
reach 1600 students depended in substantial measure
on the qualitative demands we place on incoming students
as well as other derivatives of Moravian values. The
senior staff took the position that in our growth program,
the quality dimension must take precedence over quantity.
Dennis’s proposals to the trustees reflected
student quality standards that we associate with a
prestigious institution located in Tier 2 of the U.S.
News and World Report ranking structure. His proposals
also reflected our desire to fix the imbalance that
has crept into our distribution of students among the
social sciences, the humanities and the natural sciences
and carried forward our traditional diversity goals.
Finally, Dennis reviewed infrastructure requirements – student
housing in particular – that we face in moving
to 1600 students.
summary, we placed before the trustees a series of
implementation proposals designed to move Moravian
College forward across the board. In no way did the
trustees give us a “bye.” Quite the contrary,
they engaged in what can only be characterized as lively
discussions of virtually every proposal.
In the last analysis, however, the trustees approved
unanimously the strategic plan and the implementing
proposals. It is now our roadmap for the next five
I spoke to you last year, I suggested that Moravian
College was ready to face some truly challenging issues
involving possible changes to our institutional culture.
Such changes would be transformational – they
are more profound than the incremental, bricks-and-mortar
improvements that we have achieved over the past few
I believe that the three “baskets” of
proposals I have described today can, when implemented,
yield improvements sufficient to move us – as
the title of Jim Collins best-selling book suggests – from “Good
Thank you very much.