An official proclamation from the state House of Representatives is presented to President Geraldine Jones as she conducts her final regular meeting of the Cal U Council of Trustees before her retirement in January.
Fond farewells and official proclamations were the main order of business Dec. 2 as the Cal U Council of Trustees held its regular quarterly meeting via Zoom.
State Reps. Austin Davis and Ed Gainey attended the meeting to deliver an official proclamation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in honor of University President Geraldine M. Jones, who will retire officially on Jan. 29.
The proclamation was signed by Davis, Gainey, Rep. Bud Cook and Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler.
“I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for Cal U. The way you have represented yourself and the institution speaks to your character,” Gainey said.
“My daughter went to Cal U, and she worked for Cal U, and I asked her ‘What about this president is so special?’ And she said, ‘I get to look at a lady who looks like me who is leading a major institution, and that makes me feel like I can do whatever I set my mind to.’
“You are a positive role model,” Gainey added, “and that goes far in my family — not only as a representative, but also as a father.”
Robert Thorn, vice president for Administration and Finance, will lead Cal U as interim president upon President Jones’ retirement.
In her final report to the trustees, President Jones commended students, faculty and staff for their roles in making the fall semester a success, despite the need to teach and learn remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It may not have been the semester we hoped for, but once we made the remote-learning decision, our faculty and staff embraced the opportunity to make it a great semester for our students. We connected with students, supported their Cal U experience and even kept them involved in campus life.”
Plans for the spring semester call for the University to operate at Level 3, with some in-person classes and on-campus activities, as well as online and remote-learning classes.
Acknowledging plans to integrate Cal U with Clarion and Edinboro universities, Jones said, “I’m saying goodbye at moment of change for Cal U, but I truly believe the future is bright.”
Of her successor, President Jones said: “Bob Thorn is a creative and competent administrator who has guided this school through many challenges. He shares my student-first philosophy that makes Cal U a special pace to work and learn. Cal U will continue to thrive under Bob’s leadership.”
In other reports:
Dr. Daniel Engstrom, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, introduced Dr. Brenda Fredette, dean of the Eberly College of Science and Technology. Fredette updated trustees on the innovations that allowed labs and other hands-on learning activities to take place during the fall semester.
She also reported on a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III Strengthening Institutions program, which helps institutions of higher education become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students.
T. David Garcia, vice president for Enrollment Management, reported a 9% enrollment increase for Winter College, a five-week online session that begins Dec. 14. Spring enrollment also is trending ahead of last year.
He noted gains under the leadership of Ben Brudnock, director of graduate admissions, and the success of virtual information sessions for those interested in pursuing advanced degrees at Cal U. Other successes include the development of the Cal U Educational Alliance, a new program that provides a 20% tuition discount for employees of businesses and organizations that become Educational Alliance partners.
Robert Thorn, vice president for Administration and Finance, introduced representatives of CliftonLarsonAllen accounting firm to report on the annual examination of the University’s budgeting process and financial controls. The auditors found no issues with the University’s financial management practices.
Renovation and construction projects remain on track, Thorn reported, including updates to Eberly Hall to accommodate Cal U’s associate and bachelor’s degree programs in veterinary technology. An architect has been hired for the Manderino Library project that will consolidate student success operations, and renovations to convert Residence Hall B to an administrative building are set to begin in 2021.
Dr. Nancy Pinardi, vice president for Student Affairs, introduced Rachel Michaels, director of Student Wellness Support Services. Michaels updated trustees on a variety of programs offered virtually this fall to help students address issues related to remote learning and the pandemic.
Trustees congratulated Pinardi on her upcoming retirement. Larry Sebek will become interim Vice President for Student Affairs when Pinardi steps down in mid-January.
Christine Kindl, vice president for Communications and Marketing, aired Cal U’s new “Unlock Your Story” television spot, which was seen by more than 3 million viewers this fall. In addition to traditional broadcast and cable outlets, the TV spot aired on streaming services and reached a targeted audience of about 600,000 viewers who tuned in to local high school football broadcasts this fall.
Anthony Mauro, vice president for University Development and Alumni Relations, reported on a successful fund-raising period through November 2020. More than $750,000 in cash donations represents an increase of 30% over the division’s 9-year average.
The third annual Athletics Day of Giving on Sept. 22, 2020, resulted in 350 donors who contributed more than $42,000 for athletics scholarships, double the number of donors and twice the fundraising total from last year.
The next quarterly meeting of the Council of Trustees is scheduled for March 3, 2021.