A Letter from President Brown

August 13, 2013

Dear Members of the Mount Ida Community:

It is an old adage that actions speak louder than words. But in the case of our College, the outpouring of commitment and call to action from every quarter: faculty, staff, alumni, parents and students have led to remarkable changes over a single academic year.

In this letter, I will try to outline some of these, but, in doing so, ask each of you to realize that the changes have been so wide-ranging that not all can be presented here. Collectively, the accomplishments of the past year signify the dramatic optimism and potential of this extraordinary College.

Our efforts to date have set the stage for the growth that we believe will occur because of the timeliness of our career-based undergraduate education. To this end, we have focused the past year upon strategic planning, restructuring of our academic enterprise, reorganization and renewal of enrollment management, marketing and communications, physical resource recovery and rebuilding and our alumni and parents’ associations.

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While the calendar shows that we are in the midst of our New England summer – and in recent weeks a sweltering one at that – preparation is well underway for the start of the 114th academic year of the College.

We recently completed four days of freshmen orientation on campus and I am pleased to report that we have the largest early registration level, combined with the highest SAT scores, in recent years. The class entering Mount Ida looks to be an extraordinarily accomplished group of women and men.

With our entering class as a backdrop for dynamic change, let me describe in some detail the accomplishments of the past year – none of which could have taken place without the dedicated and tireless work of faculty and staff who embrace these initiatives and the effort to achieve sustained growth for Mount Ida:

Strategic Planning

Since becoming President, in close collaboration with our faculty, administrators, staff, students and the Board of Trustees, we have recognized the need for a new institutional vision to ensure long-term success of the College.

Over the past year, the college-wide Strategic Planning Committee has formulated a new strategic plan that reflects the important role of the College in higher education as a career-focused institution, providing real world experiential and internship opportunities, along with a strong foundation in humanities, social sciences and the arts.

We continue in our fundamental belief that students will benefit from the nurturing environment of a private New England college which focuses on small class sizes, dedicated faculty and a vibrant student life.

Our mission, as recently approved by the Board of Trustees, clearly sets forth these goals: Mount Ida College blends career-relevant education with broad-based learning in the arts, sciences and humanities to prepare students to succeed in a changing world.

The Strategic Plan has adopted benchmarks for each of the next five years. For the upcoming year, the charge to the community is to accomplish the following four key initiatives:

  • Initiative 1:  We shall deliver career-relevant, experiential programs integrated with a foundation in communication, analytic and critical thinking skills
  • In 2013-14, the faculty will continue its work to sharpen the career relevance of academic programs as well as to identify new program opportunities and pilot and refine the new first-year curriculum. We are also launching our new Center for Curriculum innovation and Teaching Effectiveness.
  • Initiative 2:  We shall focus on rigorous assessment of student learning and institutional outcomes

  • With the hiring of a Dean of Curriculum and Academic Quality, 2013-14 will be a year in which the College makes substantive progress in advancing its efforts to ensure students learn what we intend them to. The college will also move to a more goal-based system of performance evaluation and provide more management development and training.
  • Initiative 3:  We shall be a diverse, engaged community focused on student success
  • New enrollment and financial aid strategies, a new Dean of Student Success, and a strategic student retention project will all contribute to this initiative in the coming year. We will continue to identify ways to make student service more effective.
  • Initiative 4:  We shall provide a sustainable campus environment that fosters engagement and pride

  • The renovation and improvement of campus facilities particularly our classrooms, laboratories and technology infrastructure will continue, along with a plan to address deferred maintenance needs.

Our Strategic Plan appears on the Mount Ida website. We are proud of the effort and accomplishments of the entire community in drafting this document and eagerly anticipate the realization of its goals and aspirations.

Schools and Faculty

Perhaps the most important of the initiatives arising from the Strategic Plan is the reorganization of our school structure. The College will shift from five schools, under the administration of school directors, to four schools led by deans. This approach aligns with the strategy and vision of the Strategic Plan and provides students with career-centered programs in up-to-date and relevant categories that make sense to each of them and their future employers.

Recognizing both the historic success and future relevance of our career-based approach to undergraduate education, the schools will be restructured as follows: School of Applied Sciences (incorporating Dental Hygiene, Funeral Services and Veterinary Technology), School of Business,  School of Design and School of Social Sciences and Humanities. Each school will be lead by a Dean, for whom searches have been underway for the past several months.

The Academic Affairs reorganization has taken shape over the spring and summer and I want to express my thanks to the various search committees for their excellent work in recruiting exceptional candidates. I am grateful for the commitment and the many extra hours given by faculty and staff members on these committees to further the mission of the College. As a result of their work, we are delighted to welcome the following newly appointed Deans to the Mount Ida community:

Dr. James Byrd, Dean, School of Applied Sciences – Jim joins us from Florida Southern College, where he has served as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College as well as Professor of Chemistry. He served as Associate Professor at Armstrong Atlantic State University, with prior experience at Florida State University, and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Jim has championed high-impact practices such as increasing student participation in research, has a deep commitment to international education, and brings strong experience in accreditation and grants. Jim holds a B.A. in Chemistry and French an M.S.P.H. in Environmental Chemistry from UNC Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography from Florida State University. We hope Jim is prepared for our New England winters.

Jason Donati, Dean, School of Design – Joining us from the New England Institute of Art, where he has served as Academic Director of Media Arts, Acting Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, and Department Chair of Media Arts & Animation and Game Art Concentration, Jason has launched new digital media programs and brings creative ideas on developing interdisciplinary programs within and across our schools. He holds a B.F.A. in Animation from the University of Massachusetts and an M.F.A. in Animation from Rochester Institute of Technology. He has also worked in industry as a creative director and director of animation and maintains extensive industry contacts.

Dr. Brad Hastings, Dean, School of Social Science and Humanities – Brad started in his new position in July, moving from Mount Aloysius College in Pennsylvania, where he served as Chair of the Social Science Department and Professor of Psychology. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Indiana State University and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Kansas State University. He also brings a strong background in assessment as well as in developing new programs. Brad’s family, including two teen-age sons, is re-locating to Newton and we welcome all of them.

Dr. Alan Whitcomb, Dean, Curriculum and Academic Quality – We are delighted that our own winner of the Lettieri Award for Excellence in Teaching will step into this new role. A tenured Professor who teaches in the Mathematics, Psychology and Business departments and previously served as the Director of Institutional Research at the College, as well as co-chair of the Strategic Planning Initiative, Alan is uniquely qualified to step into this critical position at the College. Alan holds a B.A. in Psychology from Castleton State College, an M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Radford University and a Ph.D. in Applied Statistics and Research Methods from the University of Northern Colorado.

Mary Anne Miller, Dean of Student Success – With extensive experience in student support services, grant writing and TRIO program management, Mary Anne most recently served as Dean of the Chelsea Campus for Bunker Hill Community College. She has also served as Associate Dean of Student Outreach Services at Middlesex Community College and as State Coordinator for Education Preparation for the Massachusetts Department of Education.  Her experience and skills will serve our students well. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Critical and Creative Thinking/Education, both from the University of Massachusetts.

Jeff Cutting, Dean of Admissions –  Jeff’s firm conducted the external research analysis for the College’s Strategic Planning Initiative and we were delighted to have him join us permanently.  He has previously served as Vice President for Marketing and Admissions for Kaplan Higher Education, Executive Director of Admissions and Marketing at Mercy College, Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at Boston Architectural Center, and Director of Enrollment at Cambridge College. Most recently, Jeff was Chief Executive Officer of Education Advisory Group, a higher education consulting firm, providing enrollment management, market research, and marketing services for colleges and universities. He holds a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and a M.S. in Management from Cambridge College.

Tenure and Promotion

At the May Trustees Meeting, the Board unanimously approved the recommendation of the President to grant tenure and associate professor status to two faculty members at their May meeting based on their achievements in teaching, scholarship and service.

Professor Aleta Deyo, who teaches in the Fashion Design, began teaching at Mount Ida as an Adjunct Instructor in 2007 and became a full-time Assistant Professor in the Fashion Design program in the fall of 2008.

Dr. Janine Jacques joined Mount Ida as an Assistant Professor in the School of Business in the fall of 2007.

The Board granted rank advancement to two faculty members:

  • Professor Kathleen Driscoll was promoted to Professor in the School of Design, where she has taught since the program began in 1990.
  • Professor Robin Matloff was promoted to the rank of Professor in the Dental Hygiene Program, where she has taught since that program began in 1999.
  • Congratulations to all four of these outstanding faculty members on their advancement.
  • We are also pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Robert Brown, Associate Professor in the Sport Management Department.  Bob most recently served as Associate Professor and Director of the Sport Management program in the Daniel Webster College School of Business.  He holds a B.A.  in history from Keene State College, an M.A. in Speech Communications from Indiana State university, and a Ph.D. in Speech Communication from Indiana University.

Retirement

Finally, a number of the members of our faculty have retired over the past two years. Each has served the Mount Ida with distinction and each has been responsible for making a difference in the lives of hundreds of students and helping to insure their the lifetime success. We are grateful for their dedicated service to the College:

This year, seven faculty members elected to retire. All have been long-serving members of the community and have given decades of exceptional service and commitment to the College:

  • Peter Adamowicz, Mathematics
  • Sally Anderson, Education
  • Chris Chase, English
  • John Kearns, Psychology
  • Ann Mele, English
  • Phyllis Misite, Design
  • Maria Vitagliano, Design

I want to, personally, thank each of these individuals for all that they have contributed to the College. We will miss them both professionally and personally, and I want to welcome them to remain engaged in our community. We will hold a reception to honor their service on Sept. 18th. Finally, on a sad note, we mourned the loss of our beloved colleague, Professor Tom Yamamoto, Professor of Interior Design, earlier this year.

I, also, want to thank again for their dedicated service the faculty members who retired the previous year for their dedicated service:

  • Sarah Austin, Art Foundation
  • Tom Bowling, Graphic Design
  • David Ellis, English/Humanities
  • Cecilia Lewis-Kausel, Interior Design
  • John Tricomi, Art Foundation
  • Mary Troy, Fashion Merchandising &Marketing
  • Judith Veronese, Art Foundation

Collectively, these retirements represent a significant change to our faculty. We will be welcoming new faculty to the College this year, as well. Professor Susan Donellan, who had served in a one-year visiting appointment, joins us as an assistant professor in the Education program. Professor Jim Fitts joins us as a visiting professor in Graphic Design. We will also be hiring faculty members in Sport Management, Game Art, Interior Design and Art Foundation. In addition, Professor Earl Battle will become the Chair of the Fashion Design Department.

Administration

A number of important changes occurred over the past year in our administrative organizations, each with a view to restructuring certain operations of the College toward it’s future success.

Enrollment Management

In late fall, a team of enrollment management experts from colleges across the country looked at the organizational and operations structure of our admissions office. We have made a number of changes based on their recommendations and continue to work with the consultants to adopt best practices and a strategic planning model that, even in its first year, has dramatically improved freshman admissions, both in numbers and in the academic quality of applicants. The SAT scores and high school academic qualifications of our applicants have increased significantly. We have adopted and incorporated state-of-the-art software to assist us in identifying populations of potential applicants. Our Admission counselors are actively engaged with potential future students throughout the application process in order to ensure that the unique benefits of a Mount Ida education are brought home to applicants early in the process. The results have been a better qualified and more committed applicant pool. We will continue on this successful path during the upcoming admissions cycle.

Student Affairs

This past spring the Division of Student Affairs underwent a change in leadership. Over the last several months, we carefully reviewed and planned for a change in organizational structure that better meets the current needs of our student population and is more closely aligned with the College’s strategic priorities and objectives.

Over the next semester, we will assess and implement various other aspects of the organizational restructuring including: establishing an Office of Student Engagement and Leadership and an Office of Campus Life and Community Standards. In addition, searches for several restructured and/or new positions to support student engagement initiatives and the new Student Center are either forthcoming or already underway. The changes will enable the Division of Student Affairs to offer a more comprehensive basis for support of student-centered initiatives.

Our goal in all of these efforts is to improve the quality of student life at the College: in our residences, in our recreational areas and in our new Student Center. In the coming months, we will increase opportunities for engagement, clubs, organizations and meaningful on-campus activities. An important focus will be on involving our students in a concerted way in community and civic activities to expand their education outside of the classrooms.  Our task in ensuring their success after college is to build their awareness of both their intellectual capabilities and social awareness.

Athletics

One of the most notable aspects of our community is our athletics program. Our coaches are single-minded in their dedication to the mission of the College and recognize the role that athletics can play in the development of successful and confident young adults. Their approach is based upon the concept that our athletic fields are an extension of our classrooms and, that, accomplishments on those fields must be accompanied by achievements in the classroom. Throughout the year, and increasing to this day, they act as mentors to our student athletes.

The success of our athletic program has attracted students from throughout the country. Let me give you a sense of some of the notable accomplishments of our student athletes this past year:

  • 32 Mount Ida student-athletes were named to their conference all-academic teams.
  • Football won the ECFC Championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.
  • Twelve football student-athletes were named to the ECFC All-Conference Team.  In particular, Senior Matt Bonomolo was named ECFC Offensive Lineman of the Year, All New England All-Star, All-East Region Third Team and ECFC All-Academic Team.
  • Women’s lacrosse competed in the GNAC quarterfinals and Sophomore Amanda Bowen was named first team all conference.
  • Men’s Lacrosse advanced to the GNAC championship game and featured the GNAC Player of the Year, Michael Trocchi, and the GNAC Rookie of the Year, Phil Pichel.
  • The women’s volleyball team competed in the GNAC quarterfinals.  Senior Jen Ferreira was named first team all-conference.
  • The cheerleading team finished 2nd at the GNAC Championship and took first place at two spring competitions.
  • Two equestrian riders, Ashley Meacham and Heather Bisson, took first place in their category at the IHSA regional competition.

We will be bringing new faces to our program this year and are pleased to note the following:

  • Ben Davis, Head Men’s Basketball Coach – formerly an Assistant Coach at Sienna College and Stonehill College.  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Wheaton College and a Master’s from Endicott.
  • Craig Kaufman, Sports Information Director – formerly a graduate assistant at Endicott College and an Assistant SID at MIT.  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Tufts and a Master’s from Endicott.

We wish all of our coaches, athletic staff and student athletes an exciting and victorious season.

Finance and Budget

It is important to note that we have been able to undertake the changes and improvements in our infrastructure without an adverse impact upon our budget.

This past academic year, we analyzed operations and expenditures, reorganized administrative departments and implemented line item cost savings by which we were able to engage nationally recognized consultants to assist the College in key areas without impacting the College’s 2012-2013 budget.

In fact, the efficiencies that were implemented allowed the College to restore contributions to its 403b plan for faculty and staff and to provide a salary increase for the first time in several years.

Similarly, we were able to make improvements to our facilities by restructuring our bond debt in an extremely favorable interest rate environment. This allowed the College to address a number of deferred maintenance issues and to dramatically improve student facilities.

At the same time, we have also improved our academic enterprise – expanding a number of programs and departments, and restructuring our schools and curriculum offerings, including the appointment of new deans. We are extraordinarily proud of these financial achievements and are grateful to the entire community for working toward these fiscal goals.

Physical Facilities

This summer, we undertook a multimillion dollar campus improvement and renovation program, which, when completed this fall, will create:

  • the College’s first new student center in Carlson Hall which will be home to all of our dining facilities and include multiple learning and recreational spaces;
  • a state-of-the-art student fitness center addition to the Athletic Center;
  • complete renovation of Malloy Hall, our largest residence hall;
  • expansion of our Dental Hygiene Center;
  • and the first phase of the renovation of historic Shaw Hall.

The renovation and restoration program continues the initiative begun last year with our new lighted turf field: to improve the quality and condition of the spaces occupied by our students and to advance the goal of creating a residential campus that is a cohesive part of the Mount Ida College experience and mission. By creating comfortable spaces for students to gather, intellectual growth becomes a seamless and holistic process, not limited to the classroom environment and we become a true residential college.

In the next phase of physical renewal, we hope to expand and rejuvenate our learning environments, our classrooms, laboratories and library.

I hope you will share the excitement of our students and, later this fall, will visit our new student center, fitness center and the restored Malloy Hall, all solid examples of our commitment to student life and success.

Alumni Relations and Development

Alumni Relations and Development can point to a number of noteworthy accomplishments as well. Building on the success of last year’s turf field capital campaign, donations to the College increased by over $57,000 or 10% and unrestricted giving to the annual fund increased by 28%. In addition the number of donors increased as well. With a focus on reconnecting alumni to Mount Ida, the number of alumni donors increased by 50% and the total number of donors to the annual fund increased by 69%. Our senior class had another record-breaking year as well raising an impressive $7500 which will purchase a new clock for the campus.

The Development Office has worked diligently to raise funds to help financially needy students resulting in a $50,000 grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation for traditionally underrepresented students, a $25,000 grant from the Highland Street Foundation and $1500 from VCA Antech to support students in our veterinary technology program, $3000 from the Commonwealth Charitable Fund for fashion design majors, and $1000 scholarship from La Dignite for students of African or Caribbean origin. In addition, the College received a three-year $75,000 grant from Banco Santander as part of its Santander Universities program which will make it possible for more of our students to participate in academically-focused global awareness experiences. Finally, Mount Ida received $107,000 from the estate of Professor Tom Yamamoto to endow the Tomatsu Yamamoto Scholarship Fund to benefit students in the interior design program.

The year began with the unprecedented turnout by alumni and friends to help us “light the night” and open our new turf field and continued with strong or record turnout at alumni events in Boston and New York and at Reunion weekend which brought approximately 300 alumni back to campus. As part of the reunion events, the Alumni Office launched its first Alumni Dinner and Awards ceremony at which distinguished alumni were honored and two new awards were given to recent alumni for service and outstanding accomplishments. In addition, athletic hall of fame inductees were recognized at the event which was attended by over 100 alumni, faculty and staff and friends of the College.

We have initiated an effort to identify and reconnect alumni, especially the older alumnae, who have lost touch with their alma mater. We have “found” close to 250 alumni and are back in communication by newsletter, email, phone and face to face visits. Many are excited to return to campus for the first time in decades to see the improvements to facilities, reconnect with friends and learn more about the many changes that have occurred since they were students. We are reaching out to parents as well through a revitalized parent association including a Parents’ Council and Parents’ Fund.

Marketing and Communications

For the past year, with the help of our Brand Council, comprised of representatives of all of the college constituencies, Sametz Blackstone Associates, a national branding firm located in Boston and together with our Marketing and Communications group, have developed and recently soft-launched our new marketing strategy, along with a new visual branding system, including a new logo and mark, a new website driven by social media, video content, photography and dynamic content about you and our students.

We also have a whole new way of communicating about Mount Ida, externally. Our new approach is warm, friendly, helpful and direct to the student—not institutional.  We are marketing the college from a position of strength: our career-focused programs and strong foundation in the arts, social sciences and humanities, along with real-world internship opportunities, along with our close-knit, diverse community, winning NCAA Division III sports and vibrant community, and more.

In July, we soft-launched the first phase of the new website, which transformed from front to back, including the rewriting of all pages, new photography and video, as well as a new content management system, and hosting server. In the coming weeks and months, Marketing and Communications will be working on the second phase of the website. I urge you to visit our website and share your comments on the Feedback form, in addition to following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook and subscribing to our You Tube channel.

The marketing and branding initiative will continue this year with the rebranding of the organization college-wide, from stationery to signage. In addition, Marketing and Communications will be publishing a new social media policy and guidelines, along with other helpful tools to help you better understand our new branding and how to utilize it in your communications.

Our Future

These are times of great challenge and opportunity in higher education and for Mount Ida. We value your understanding and support as we move the College forward to a position of strength and continue our tradition of providing our students with the education that will lead to meaningful and successful careers.

This is the right moment for Mount Ida College. Our career-based undergraduate education, including a solid foundation in the humanities and social science encouraging critical and analytical thinking, have led to the unparalleled success of our graduates – 84% this year employed in occupations requiring a college degree within eleven months of graduation.

We are both proud of our accomplishments as a center of learning and as a transformational environment for the young adults who study here. We pledge to work tirelessly toward this goal.

Sincerely,

Barry Brown
President